Easter Message 2019 from the Patriarch
I woke up this morning, and after morning devotions, read an email from one of my mentors, friend, and brother Bishop, that his wife, June, had died during the night and was now resting in the peace of Jesus. June suffered for many years with Lewy Body Dementia, a form of Alzheimer’s Disease. Bishop Weeks retired from active ministry to stay home and take care of his failing wife. He used to write emails to friends, family, and other Bishops chronicling their life together, her medical condition, and his small but significant ministry. He wrote a book about living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. But the greatest thing Bishop Weeks did was his absolute devotion to serving his wife physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The Christ-like, servant-love that he showed humbled everyone who would read or knew about it.
For June the suffering is over. For Philip, there is the reality of an incredible loss and emptiness. I am thankful that I have never had to face the loss of a spouse, a child or a grandchild. The thought of it is painful enough. I know of many people who have faced this, and the grieving process is very painful, even for Christians. The loss of the sweet and intimate communion of love, broken by death, is the very reason death is not a friend, but rather the enemy.
Jesus enters fully human and fully divine into the life of humanity, ultimately encountering and defeating death and then conquering the grave in His resurrection. Because of this, those who put their faith in Jesus, face the grave not with despair but with hope will also conquer death and rise with Him and in Him for all eternity.
For those who mourn, and there is and should be a time of mourning, they too can put their faith in the same hope that their loved one is still very much alive, and that mourning is not the end of the story. Perhaps mourning can be turned into dancing, and life will again find fullness because life is found in Jesus. I have seen this faith and hope in people over and over again.
The Resurrection also proclaims that now all of creation, the entire universe, is involved in a new creation. A new heaven and earth are being formed in which evil, suffering, and death will no longer exist. This new creation is a result of God becoming human. This new creation is a result of Jesus, out of humility and love for the Father, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. From this obedience born in humility, love, and, suffering, everything is being made new and brought to redemption.
It is such incredibly good news that because of Jesus and His obedience, we can enter and participate in His life, death, and resurrection and be transformed out of a life of sin and death, into a complete, full, and healed person that will live and love forever. The miracle of the resurrection is more than the empty tomb; it is that Christ Jesus is alive and has taken humanity to heaven where it is seated on the throne in Him. It is that we can encounter Him in a way that is so transformative that we say we are “born again” or “born anew.” Or, “we are a new creation the old has passed away” Or, “it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me.” Yes, we can proclaim, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”
I pray that each of you have a glorious Easter. An Easter that doesn’t end after Sunday, but an Easter that will renew you every morning.
Under His mercy,