Dear Friends in Christ,

Once again, we stand at the threshold of a great mystery.

Yes, we are still in the shadows of nearly unimaginable suffering: Jesus, the innocent one — betrayed, denied, abandoned, tortured and killed, buried by night in a borrowed grave. All but one of his companions are condemned to live with the memory of their failures — what they did, what they were unable to do. Most of them are hiding, grieving.

But here, at the threshold, something else is happening. It is hard to grasp, at first. It begins only with a word, a piece of news. He is not here.

The women are the ones who hear it. They stand stock-still at the open door of the tomb they did not expect to find open. At first they do not understand what is said. How can a word, any word, come from the place of the dead? Then it comes again: He is not here. He is risen.

They strain their eyes to see who has spoken, and then they see. They will not agree, later, as to who or what it was. Some will say, an angel; others, a young man in white. But his word floods them. They drop everything and run. At first they are afraid. They say nothing to anyone. They open their mouths, but the word won't come out. Finally they find a few of Jesus' friends, who have shut themselves away out of shame and grief. They repeat to them the word they heard: He is risen. And soon, He appears in the flesh. He is not a ghost. He is not a resuscitated corpse. He is completely who He was, and He is completely changed. Only His wounds can be described.

He speaks a word, and the word He speaks is, Peace. He breathes His Spirit into them, and tells them, Go and forgive. So they go. They speak the word from the women, and the word from the Lord. Others believe and speak. That is why, after a hundred generations, we stand at the threshold again.

The old shadows surround us still, in our time, as they have surrounded human beings in every time and place. Children die in a fire leaving their parents bereft and remorseful. The brave and innocent are mangled in a terrible war. The poor linger in misery. Even the well-to-do must try to make peace with the griefs they bear. The world offers little help.

But God has spoken the word. The Lord Jesus has been raised from the dead. The threshold itself has been changed from the sill of darkness into the gate of Life. The signs are everywhere. In the chaos of war, against all odds, someone is saved. A child sick to death is suddenly healed. A woman who has spent twenty years trying to extinguish herself, hears God in a dream: I will take away your heart of stone and I will give you a heart of flesh, and she decides to live. 

This threshold is at our feet every moment of every day, all our lives. At any moment, the shadows may lie thick around us. We may find ourselves fearful, doubtful, unable so much as to lift a foot to cross over.

But Jesus Christ has crossed over to us, from death to life for us. He is the Word the Father has spoken: once and forever, for us. And He brings His world with Him, this Easter-world where grace is the air and love the currency.

Can we dare to bring this world with us, to cross the thresholds where others wait, to speak into their darkness the word we have heard: He is risen? May we be so filled with the light, the love and the power of His Resurrection that those whom we meet may see His face, hear His voice, and find His hand leading them into Life.

Faithfully your bishop,

(The Rt. Rev.) Dorsey McConnell

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