From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Fear and amazement in a troubled world

Date Wed, 7 Apr 2004 14:20:00 -0500

Note #8189 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

April 7, 2004

Fear and amazement in a troubled world

National Council of Churches Easter message 2004

by the Rev. Bob Edgar by the Rev. Bob Edgar
NCC General Secretary

NEW YORK CITY - "As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a
white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.  But he said to
them, 'Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was
crucified.  He has been raised; he is not here.  Look, there is the place
they laid him.	But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead
of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.'  So they
went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them;
and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid."  (Mark 16:5-8, NRSV).

	At Easter, Christians readily embrace the joys of the season. 
Pleasant weather finally arrives; crocuses burst forth from the thawing
ground; birds begin to greet us with their early-morning song.	Colored eggs
appear on our tables; bunnies mysteriously deliver baskets filled with
chocolate and jellybeans to our children; new clothes make their debut at
church services.

	We should enjoy all these blessings; after all, God has given us
natural wonders, and we have responded with wonderful creativity to express
our appreciation for these gifts.  But sometimes we have to ask ourselves,
where is the fear and amazement that characterized the first Easter?

	Certainly the followers of Jesus were perplexed and afraid.  Their
Lord had just died a horrible death.  He had been taunted, scourged, beaten,
and crucified; he died with an agonizing cry of abandonment and pain.  The
ridicule heaped upon him as he suffered his torment was compounded by the
indignity of being buried without proper preparation of his body.  Now he was

	In the words of the Orthodox Paschal hymn, "Christ is risen from the
dead, trampling down death by death, and bestowing life upon those in the
tomb."	Our belief as Christians is that, as revealed on that first Easter
morning, God has wrought salvation in this mysterious way, by "trampling down
death by death."  Perhaps we don't experience fear and amazement today
because we no longer see the contradiction inherent in this story.  Perhaps
it is because we don't really understand that our calling is to follow Christ
step-by-step through this paradox.

	Yet it is precisely this understanding - that God is with us in our
most vulnerable moments - that is at the heart of the Gospel that we proclaim
and which enables us to witness to the universal love of God.  How else to
provide comfort to the millions suffering from war in the Middle East?	How
else to offer hope to the millions suffering from HIV/AIDS in Africa?  How
else to bring joy to the millions suffering from starvation throughout the

	Certainly, we should work in every possible physical way to bring
peace, healing and sustenance to all people.  Our calling requires it.	But
as Christians, we also have a faith to share, and it is only by comprehending
with fear and amazement the paradox of Christ's death that we can genuinely
share with others the fruit of his resurrection.

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