ELCA Presiding Bishop's 2006 Easter Message

The Easter Gospel lesson from John ends with Mary Magdalene's cry of faith, "I have seen the Lord." Mary -- vigilant, faithful and weeping -- is the first to declare her faith in the risen Lord. The joyous good news comes after a vigil of darkness and despair.

The 40 days of Lent have been a time of vigilance for us as well. With ashes on our brows on Ash Wednesday, we commited ourselves to be vigilant through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We sought to be vigilant and faithful, but our vigilance wavered. Like the disciples asked to keep watch, weariness overwhelmed our best intentions.

Vigilance is difficult for us. Our minds wander and our spirits despair. We forget the good news for which the poor ache. We neglect our call to be public witnesses in our churches, in our homes, among all people. We fail to proclaim God's word.

The good news of Easter morning revives us. Jesus calls us by name. We, too, see the Lord. We see the fulfillment of Christ's promise in the empty cross and the empty tomb. We know joy and discover renewed hope. We remember the fresh waters of Baptism and reclaim our call to tell the good news to the poor, strive for justice and peace, show compassion, and be God's people. From the ashes of Good Friday, a fire ignites and we are renewed.

"I have seen the Lord!" Thanks be to God.