There was an interim minister in the pulpit. The new minister will be installed in July. Bill Croy was there for Easter, now zipping around on an electric cart or using walking sticks when he left his cart. From across the room, I thought there were new shadows in his face that weren't there in the past, but his smile still throws light on all within its reach.
There was an opening prayer in the service that read in part as follows: May we remember in the darkest hours of our lives, He lived through the darkest hours of His life and then was alive again. That is Your gift to us, Eternal Life with Christ.
I found myself punctuating the sentence differently: May we remember in the darkest hours of our lives, He lived through the darkest hours of His life and then was alive again. That is Your gift to us.
Not to take away from the magnitude of eternal life, but to me the fact that Jesus lived "through the darkest hours of His life and then was alive again" is the resonating message.
There are so many of us living through our personal darkest hours—illness, death, tornadoes, job loss, floods, homelessness, hunger, deep family strife. We live through our darkest hours and emerge, sometimes battered, sometimes broken, but alive. Alive.
We have our own small resurrections on a sometimes weekly or daily basis—not aping Jesus, but following in his example.
For me, that is the wonder and the gift of belief. The gift is that we can and do stumble through our own darkest hours, not sure when the light will break or even if it will break, and then find we are alive again.
The interim pastor preached a sermon on the resurrection, concluding it with this thought: "If Christ is risen, then the empty tomb is filled with hope."
Indeed it is.