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ELCA Presiding Bishop's 2009 Easter Message

"Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified ... has been raised."
Mark 16:6

When Mary Magdalene, Mary and Salome came to the tomb, their hopes and fears intersected. They wondered aloud about the impossibly large and heavy stone that presented an obstacle to their immediate plans. Worse, what they thought lay behind the stone was unspeakably devastating. Jesus, who embodied the hope of God's promise in a fully human life, was not simply dead, but crucified - executed in the most extreme humiliation, a savage mockery of the hope that had lived with him.

But the stone was gone, the grave empty. Where they had expected to hear the silence of death's mockery, they were met by an astonishing message that the crucified one was raised from the dead, that their hope was victorious over humiliation, and that Jesus lives and is leading the way into an unexpected, surprising future with God.

Jesus lives and resurrection hope beckons. Jesus' resurrection on the third day signals that God is not finished until the life of Jesus renews the whole creation. Sinners once haunted by the threats of judgment will live forgiven, restored, renewed and freed. All lives broken by sin's injustices and haunted by death's terrors will be transformed by joy and transfigured into the new creation in Christ.

You and I are witnesses of this new creation. You have been baptized into Jesus' death and resurrection and have heard his promise. Your lives are hidden in his and he feeds you with a foretaste of the eternal feast of joy. He will meet you in your hope. He claims your daily work and makes it into a holy calling. He lives in you and sends you into the world as an ambassador of reconciliation, a testimony of God's incomparable love. Jesus lives! Your life in him is resurrection witness.

"This is our God; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation!"
Isaiah 25:9

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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