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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

April 2009

At the extreme northern point of Norway, people of that country live so far north that their winter is consumed in weeks of perpetual night. On January 18 they gather to catch an impressive glimpse of the first sign of spring: a thin rim of light which drives away the perpetual night.

Women came to the tomb at the dawn of the third day of Jesus’ burial (Luke 24:1-12), but there was no dawn in their lives. Their hopes were dashed, their dreams dissipated, their aspirations defeated, their little company of followers dispersed. They came not to watch the light come from darkness but to embalm the entombed. The disciples didn’t come at all. The One whom they had thought to be the Messiah had been crucified and had left their expectations emaciated and their aspirations emasculated. The disciples were in the darkest day of the winter of their discontent, the winter of their perpetual night. Any word of an empty tomb could seem nothing more than an idle tale, cruelly taunting their dark despair. The immortal longings they had experienced in the transcending presence of Jesus of Nazareth were now finite, futile.

A striking, memorable phrase emerges from a sea of images in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. As Act IV concludes, Antony has fallen on his sword, asks to be taken to Cleopatra, and—reconciled with the Queen—dies in her arms. In the conclusion of Act V, Cleopatra dresses in the queenly robes she first wore when she met Antony and takes a deadly asp, applies it to her breast, and dies after this request: Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have Immortal longings in me.

The women came to the tomb at dawn, engulfed in darkness of despair only to discover the body of Jesus gone and two angels in “dazzling apparel” standing by them. Resurrection light had driven out perpetual night. Jesus was alive.  Their immortal longings were restored.

In John Masefield’s drama The Trial of Jesus, Procula, the wife of Pilate, receives a report that Jesus rose from the tomb. She excitedly asks Longinus, a Roman soldier, “Do you think He is dead?” “No, I don’t,” Longinus replies. “Where then is He?” Procula asks. “Loose in the world, lady,” says Longinus, “where neither Jew nor Roman nor anyone else can stop Him!”  This is the heartbeat of Christianity, the center of our faith. Christ is loose in the world, out and moving among us, involved in our personal lives, inspiring us to faith and action, freeing us to live and move as liberated, forgiven, exuberant people of God.

As the light of Easter Day dawns upon our hankering hearts, let us bend up every spirit to his/her full height and declare with confidence and exuberance the most hope-filled words this world has ever heard: Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed! . . . for we have immortal satisfactions in the Risen Christ.

Yours, faithfully and gratefully,

Calvin C. Wilson