Anticipating Easter

I am shaking, no strength remains in me,

   and no breath is left in me.

Again one in human form touched me

   and strengthened me.

He said, “Do not fear, greatly beloved,

   you are safe. Be strong and courageous!”

When he spoke to me,

   I was strengthened.

Daniel 10:17b-19a

Dear Easter anticipators:

       This is Holy Week, the time of the passion story of Jesus our Savior. We go to the upper room and hear Jesus’ final words to his disciples. We follow along with him out to the garden and witness the betrayal, the arrest, the trial and the crucifixion. We cry with those who have watched from a distance his removal from the cross and his burial in the borrowed tomb. Then, most importantly, we wait with great anticipation for the glory that is about to take place, when the stone is rolled back and the grave is opened and the angel declares him risen. This is Holy Week, the time to tell the story once again that gives us strength and hope even in the darkest of moments.

       The reading, quoted above from the Book of Daniel, reminds us of that strength that comes to us from the one who is the Son of God. Daniel had been taken from his home, during a devastating wartime loss. The King of Persia had swept down upon Israel and Judah and enslaved the people, taking away individuals and families and all their hopes and dreams. Daniel, as one such captive, was now off in Babylon, where he experienced visions and dreams. One such dream, concerning the future events that was about to befall his people, scared and troubled him so much that he went into deep mourning and grief for three weeks. Finally, a man of heavenly power comes before him and touches him assuring him that he does not need to fear, that he is safe. And so Daniel rises renewed in confidence and strength from the one who gives life and power.

       The same thing happens at the grave that first Sunday morning. The women go there in mourning and grief. But along the way an angel of the Lord descends, the earth is shaken, the stone is rolled back and the angel in radiating glory declares Jesus risen. Suddenly the women see and hear Jesus with them. They are renewed and given a new mission to declare the resurrection, filled with strength and courage.

This holy week, be like Daniel and the women at the grave, who despite their current time of worry and fear find strength and courage in the one who is the Son of God. Let him come to you, to touch your heart, and lift you up, so that you may know the glory that is Easter. “Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe” in God’s promise forever.

                                                                                                     In the peace and grace of God,                                                                                                                                                             Pastor Kirk Griffin