A community church in North Andover, Massachusetts

Easter 2024

He is risen; he is not here.Mark 16:6

Dear Friends,

Welcome once again to the Easter season. Coming to us at the end of March, it feels like Easter has taken us by surprise, springing early from the heavens. Now we know how Mary Magdalene and the other Mary felt in Matthew 28. They had headed out for the tomb after the Sabbath. With the first light of dawn coloring the horizon and the early birds singing their morning songs, suddenly the day took a surprising turn. An earthquake rolled the ground beneath their feet. As they clung to each other for support, a dazzling figure plummets from the heavens. With startling panache, he rolls the stone away from the tomb and sits upon it. He looked at the women with a fiery gaze (an appearance like lightning). Hebrews believed angelic messengers were made of fire, and God likes meeting us where we are, so God’s angelic messenger has a fiery appearance. Once they were over their shock the ladies realize that the earthquake is also a sign angels are at work. May we all be comforted to know that God loves us enough to come to us in ways we understand in each and every age.

Had the guards not fainted in fear, they might have been reassured, along with the Mary’s, by the angel’s next words. The angel assures them they shouldn’t fear, but let them know that Jesus, who was crucified, is not in the tomb, he has been raised. The angel gently chides them with “as he said,” reminding them that Jesus had told all Jesus’ followers he’d be back in three days, something none of them remembered in their fear and grief. It really is worth working hard to live with as little fear as possible to avoid missing out on the important moments in life and the most vital information. Knowing how people are, the angel also wishes to alleviate all doubt and invites both Mary’s to see for themselves that the tomb is empty. These two women become the first disciples of the resurrection, assigned to tell the disciples (hiding in Jerusalem in fear) that Jesus has been raised and will meet them in Galilee, where their mission together began. These ladies received the news that our savior could not be eliminated by the greatest human power of their day, God’s love was too great and too enduring for that. They left with a giddy mix of fear and joy, ready to share the greatest news anyone has ever been given to share.

Jesus would meet them, remind them to cast their fears aside and tell Jesus’ brothers to meet him in Galilee, not retreating from Jerusalem but reassembling there. Jesus commissions all his disciples, his brothers and sisters of every age, to share his story with the world, baptizing Jews and non-Jews alike in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching as Jesus taught. Jesus promises to be with us all, until the end of the age. May this promise help us all to live fearless lives and may Jesus’ command keep this wonderful congregation of First-Calvary Baptist Church busy for the rest of our days.

If you wish to make a special gift to the work of the church, join us on Easter Sunday at 10:30 AM or give online.

I look forward to all the adventures we will enjoy together this Easter and all year ’round.

Pastor Jeff