Friday, August 3, 2018

Do Not Be Afraid

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Matthew 28:1-10 
When I taught in a daycare of two and three years old, while in college, the kids had a few favorite books. One was titled, "Don't Be Sacred!" and it depicted scary scenes for children that, one by one, light was shed and fear was no more. They loved shouting, "don't be scared!", at the right moment in the book. They would laugh and jump around after each scary scene was undone. Unfortunately, life's scary scenes cannot as easily be un done as it was for those two and three year old children. They are all now in their forties and have surely been terrified and overwhelmed many times in their lives.
We find two women who loved Jesus very much in a very vulnerable and terrifying scene. They were coming out to inspect the tomb, says prayers and engage in their mourning practices. They had been through a great horror and were seeking to find meaning perhaps, and maybe find ways to move on. Instead, there is another earthquake, a strong angel moved the stone and guards passed out. The women, even though terrified hung in there. And they were the first to hear the incredibly good news and see the empty tomb. Jesus was not there, he was raised from the dead and they ran with joy to tell their story. I am sure they were trembling and mightily afraid, yet they were also willing to believe and share that experience with others. We too, will often be afraid and terrified, yet God promises new life, new beginnings, new hope, even at the mouth of the grave.
Today, I ask God to help me embrace the new life in the mist of fears, transitions and challenges. May we acknowledge our fears and terrors, knowing that God works miracles even in our darkest hours.

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