Across the Pastor’s Desk: Always celebrate joy of Easter
Published 8:00 pm Friday, April 15, 2022
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Don Rose
“Away with sin and sorrow” are words from the first verse of the Easter hymn, “This Joyful Eastertide.” For Christians, these words summarize the gifts of Easter and the promise of the resurrection. The hymn is based in part on words from the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the believers in Corinth. There he argues forcefully for the truth of the resurrection. For Paul it is in fact the living Christ that is crucial for the faith. Paul writes that without the resurrection, faith itself would be in vain and believers would be left with nothing more than another effort at self-help religion.
As Jesus, who knew no sin became sin for all of humanity, died and rose again, sin and its power, and death, have been destroyed. That which once kept people in bondage has been loosed, and freedom reigns as people have the opportunity to be restored to a living relationship with God. The brokenness of sin has been replaced with the wholeness that only God can offer. In the promise of forgiveness, people of faith live their lives in witness and service to the risen Savior.
Sorrow as well is cast away as Jesus becomes the first fruits of those who will be raised to new life in the last day when Christ returns to make all things God’s own. Death, the world’s ultimate no, no longer has power because in the resurrection even death is shown to be lesser than the powers of God. This is not to suggest that because of Easter faith, believers do not mourn at the death of those close to them. The Apostle Paul does not tell believers not to grieve, it is a part of the fabric of life lived in this world. Rather, the Apostle tells believers to not grieve as others do. This difference is possible in faith because in the resurrection death has been defeated and sorrow cast away.
The first verse of the hymn goes on to say, “for Christ who once was slain, has burst his three day prison.” The power of God’s love and forgiveness are proclaimed for all of creation. Even the boundary of death has been breached and nothing separates God from the world and nothing will separate them. To proclaim the promise of the resurrection is a witness to the faith that God has gifted by the work of the Holy Spirit. As it was with the first believers, so it continues today, that an encounter with the living Lord by necessity results in witness, a desire to share good news with any and all will hear.
From death and a tomb the least likely of locations comes the good news of new life. For you may sin and sorrow be gone and may the joy of Easter fill your life this week and always.
Don Rose is pastor of Mansfield and United Lutheran Churches.