Christ is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia! For the past forty days, followed by Holy Week, we have been called to an intentional time focused on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Some of us may have chosen to offer up a sacrifice each day, or maybe do something extra, to draw us closer into our relationship with God and our faith.
Whatever the circumstance, Easter greets us with joy, and we come together to rejoice, for Jesus has risen from the dead!
We give thanks, for it is through his example that we learn that new life can come from death, and death is not the end.
No matter where we have been, no matter what we have or will endure, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection will continually serve as a reminder of God’s unending love for each one of us. And God will always be at our side.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever.” Today’s Easter psalm reminds us to give thanks to God, even in the midst of doubt, disappointment, or fear. Some days it may seem easier to give thanks than others, but I am comforted when I am reminded that Jesus himself has experienced many of my same emotions. And Jesus is closer to me even then, in those difficult moments.
As a volunteer minister at a correctional facility, I usually end our prayer time together with personal intentions. Without fail, whether I am in the women’s unit or the men’s, and whether I am in the medium-security unit or the maximum-security, regardless of how the women or men are feeling that day, someone always offers a prayer of thanksgiving to God simply for the gift of waking up, and for another chance at life.
It is in those prayers and in their personal intentions that hope is given voice, that faith is alive, and that our hearts and prayers are joined together in solidarity and community.
The beginning of this Easter season invites us to look beyond this Sunday, and further reflect on how we can serve as living “witnesses of all that he [Jesus] did” (Acts 10:39). When we witness an injustice or are made aware of a policy or practice that does not honor human dignity or the sanctity of life, when we are called to respond in a way that Jesus would—with compassion, forgiveness, and mercy—can we still rejoice and give thanks to God, knowing that we may be met with opposition or retaliation?
Our works of compassion and daily commitment to love and justice may be counter-cultural in some spaces, but when we continue to look to Jesus’ example, our faith and dedication may be strengthened.
God is with us. We rejoice with gratitude for the many “Easter moments” that have already taken place within us, and for the rising seasons in our lives that bring us new life and opportunity for renewal.