An Easter Message From Rev. Russ Sommerfeld
Easter joy in the cemetery!
An unusual greeting, indeed.
Some Christian churches conduct their Easter sunrise worship among gravestones and mausoleums. When the dawning sun casts its first rays on granite and marble, trumpets pierce the silence. They replace the melancholy of taps—typical to these environs—with ascending alleluias. Easter in the cemetery is not for hushed whispers and sobs of grief. The giggles of children and laughter of adults echo among the monuments to the deceased. “Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!” is not only exchanged; it is shouted with accompanying alleluias!
This unusual activity in a cemetery expresses the question asked of the women who went to Jesus’ tomb at dawn on his resurrection day. They went to the place of the dead to tend to the dead but instead heard:
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He isn’t here, but has risen.”
The place of the dead has been changed forever! What Jesus the Son of God predicted has come to be. “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” The place of the dead is now the place of resurrection. Because of Jesus the term “cemetery” rings true. It means “resting place.” But it is not our final resting place. By God’s grace, we have been given the risen Jesus. He can awaken us from our temporary resting places wherever they may be. We can rely totally on him, his death and his resurrection. He says so!
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
As you consider Easter in the cemetery, I invite you to ponder the words God gave to hymn writer Paul Gerhard (1607-76).
Awake, my heart, with gladness,
See what today is done;
Now, after gloom and sadness,
Comes forth the glorious sun.
My Savior there was laid
Where our bed must be made
When to the realms of light
Our spirit wings its flight.
Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed. Alleluia!