On the first day of the week after Jesus was crucified, women went to his grave expecting to find death. There was an earthquake (Matthew 28:2) and suddenly everything was different. A messenger of resurrection told them, "He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said" (6). As they hurried to tell others, Jesus met them (8-9).
An earthquake devastated Haiti in January 2010. Honestly, even before the quake, those going to Haiti would have expected to find poverty, malnutrition, disease and injustice. The power of death in its manifold expressions blinded many from seeing the deep faith, the strong perseverance and the rich culture of the Haitian people.
Looking at Haiti today, it is understandable that one would describe the country on the basis of the piles of rubble left in the aftermath of the earthquake. Some 1 million people still live in tent cities. One cannot deny the death, the destruction, the rubble.
Yet I experienced a far different message in Haiti. The messenger was Joseph Livenson Lauvanus, president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Haiti. As we walked among the ruins and rubble, he stated emphatically: "We will not be defined by rubble but by restoration, for we are a people of the resurrection."
In Haiti, Jesus lives. Amid death and destruction, the people of Haiti sing of God's steadfast goodness just as Lutheran seminarian Ben Larson was singing "O Lamb of God, you bear the sin of all the world away" as he died in the rubble. The Haitians are a people of the resurrection, witnessing to how Jesus lives and, in him, God is making all things right, even amid all that is wrong.
Shall we listen to these messengers — Mary Magdalene and Mary, Lauvanus and Larson — and join our voices to theirs?
There are many voices telling us who cannot be trusted. Let us, however, sing of the God in whom you can trust, the God who makes promises and keeps them, the God who raised Jesus from the dead, the God who in Christ has made you a new creation.
There are voices in the world, in the church, at home and work, loudly bemoaning what is wrong in the world and in the church and saying who is to blame. As people of the resurrection, let us tell of the God who in Jesus is setting the world right, bringing in the new creation, reconciling the world in Christ and sending us as ambassadors of this reconciliation.
There are many voices, even our own inner voice, telling us what we cannot do and who we must never be. As people of the resurrection, let us tell of the Spirit's work liberating God's people to live freely by faith in love, serving our neighbors and welcoming the stranger. How? Generously, compassionately and joyfully, with our whole lives, with every gift God has given.
Although it may not seem that the world believes that such a message is possible, it is waiting for such messengers to appear. The creation waits with eager longing for the messengers of God's embodied salvation to appear (Romans 8:19ff), singing of God's trustworthy goodness, of life in Jesus Christ, of the Spirit's liberating power. The creation waits with eager longing for messengers announcing, "We will not be defined by rubble but by restoration, for we are a people of the resurrection."
© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers