As people send or share Easter greetings with me, a few words come up again and again. “Have a beautiful and blessed Easter.” “Have a happy and holy Easter.” Happy. Holy. Beautiful. Blessed.

Those words capture something, but just a glimpse, of what Easter means for me. That Jesus gave all for me, to save me, make me new, and gather me into the glorious company of God’s forgiven folk across the world.

Yet, I’m struck by how that very first Easter must have felt to the disciples. For them, those fateful days were more full of caution than celebration. Fear more than the fullness of God’s presence.

Friday: despair and despondency; broken spirits at the foot of the cross.

Saturday: an uncertain and fearful Sabbath; the sound of a rooster’s crow still ringing in the ears of disciples who had not held faith.

Sunday: a day of fearful wonder; news of an empty tomb that sounded like craziness or a conspiracy even to those who had followed Jesus every step of the way.

Yet the empty tomb points to a word that, more than any other, sums up Easter for me.

Even when I’m despairing, or unsure, or fearful, I have hope because Jesus is risen. The resurrection assures me that God is for me and with me and at work in the world to bring about His purposes.

So that hope refreshes and renews me. And for the long haul, not just the long weekend.

Because Easter Sunday opens into to a new week of work and witness. After spending time at the cross and the empty tomb, I walk once more out into the wider world, called to be a messenger and agent of hope, where too many women and girls, men and boys, still experience despair, uncertainty, and fear. Hoping that in Jesus’ scarred hands, all our faltering actions of love and service can become hope-filled glimpses of God’s gracious reign of justice and peace.

May you have a happy and holy, beautiful and blessed, and hope-filled Easter.

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