GUEST EDITORIAL: Easter's message

Mar. 31, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Easter is the most joyous day in the Christian year.

If you attend Church today, you will see the joy in the beauty of the sanctuary and hear it in the beauty of the music. If you attend Edgewood Presbyterian, the congregation I serve, you will see, taste and experience the joy of Easter at our fellowship breakfast and very special worship service.

All the things we do on Easter Sunday work together to make this day the high point of the Christian year. Of course, what really makes today the high point of the Christian year is the fact that we are celebrating the resurrection of Christ and the new hope and new life he gives us. This hope is a hope for new life in heaven, as well as hope for new life here and now. The message of Easter is a message of hope and joy, especially when hope and joy are least expected.

The Bible tells of Mary Magdalene going to Jesus’ tomb early in the morning. Can you imagine how Mary Magdalene must have felt as she approached the tomb? She must have felt that all hope was lost. Jesus, whom she had followed and in whom she had placed all her hopes and dreams, was dead. It must have seemed to her that all her hopes and dreams of a better way of living and a new life had died with him. She must have felt that all her hopes and dreams were buried with Jesus.

But then — she encountered the risen Christ, the risen Christ gave her new hope for her life when she least expected it. The risen Christ gave her hope for a life that was much more meaningful and joyous than she had ever dared imagine before. Can you imagine what hope and excitement must have been in her voice as she announced to the disciples: “I have seen the Lord!” What a message of joy and hope that must have been!

Yes, Easter is the day we celebrate that there is hope for our lives, hope for our families, hope for our community, and hope for our world — because Christ has risen.

The message of Easter is a clear message:

Your life, your family, our community and the world can be made new by God. God makes all things new even when, or maybe it‘s better to say especially when, you least expect it.

Have you ever been sailing?

If you have, you may have encountered one way to illustrate the hope of Easter without realizing it. A friend of mine tells of a time he went sailing with his grandfather off the North Carolina coast. His grandfather was an experienced sailor, but my friend was a novice. As they were sailing that day the wind suddenly stopped, the sea became a dead calm, and their sailboat began floating aimlessly in the water. Try as they might, they couldn’t get the ship to head in the direction of home, and it was getting dark. My friend panicked and did not know what to do. They were too far out to swim to shore, and he was sure they would die on their boat.

His grandfather, however, knew that the wind would eventually start blowing again. All they could do was wait for that to happen. Finally, late that night, my friend’s grandfather woke him and told him to trim the sails. The wind was not blowing, and my friend did not understand why he needed to trim the sails — until off in the distance, he heard a faint sound. The sound became stronger and stronger until finally, he could feel the wind. With the sails trimmed, the boat made its way home.

Just when my friend thought he and his grandfather were doomed, the wind began again, and they were able to sail home. In the same way, just when we think things are at their worst, God offers us new life and new hope.

That’s what happened for Mary and the disciples. That’s what can happen for you.

God gives new life and new hope when we least expect it.

That is the message of Easter.

Dr. William C. Hayes is the pastor of Edgewood Presbyterian Church, 316 West McIntosh St. (on the corner of McIntosh and Woodland) in Sanford. For information about services and activities, please call him at (919) 775-3713 or email him at