Pastor column: Easter's hope and Easter's promise
When George Bush Sr. served as Vice President, he represented the U.S. at the funeral of the former Communist leader, Leonard Brezhnev, of the Soviet Union. Vice President Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest Brezhnev's wife carried out at the funeral service. Mrs. Brezhnev stood motionless by her husband's coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as a Soviet soldier touched the lid, she did something that shocked all who saw it. She reached down on the lid of the casket and made the sign of the cross over her husband's chest.
There in the citadel of Communism and atheism, the wife of the man who tried to stamp out the Christian faith in that country, made it clear she hoped her husband was wrong! Wrong about life, wrong about death, and wrong about Jesus Christ! Mrs. Brezhnev had seen all that Communism, secularism and materialism could offer, yet she hoped for more. She hoped the living God might have mercy on her husband, and that Jesus Christ would roll away His stone.
It's not just the Communist party ... much of today's world has doubted, or ignored, the hope
and promise of the Gospel. The belief in resurrection to new life after death seems too good to
be true to so many. Yet even though many people and powers have tried to squash any hope in the resurrection these past two thousand years, the hope lives on! We believe that because Jesus rose from the grave, we will too! Death is not the end for a believer, it is a new beginning for one last surprise!
Friends, let there be no mistake about it! Followers of Jesus don't have to worry about what lies ahead of us on the other side of the grave as Mrs. Brezhnev did! We can trust Jesus' promise that He is there, with arms wide open to welcome us into His kingdom! This is what His suffering and death on the cross secured for us!
May this be the focus of our Easter celebration and the undergirding of our everyday lives! May this be the message you and I share with all we meet in this Easter Season, and all year round. Jesus lives, friends! And because of Him, you and I will, too!