The Easter Greetings of Bishop Tiit Salumäe, Bishop of the Western and Northern Regions, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia:
Christ says, “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Revelation 1:18 (ESV)
At the heart of the Christian proclamation is the message that Christ has overcome evil and death. The Apostle Paul writes, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” (1 Cor 15:14, ESV) For the disciples, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead was the confirmation that He is God. It gave them the strength to endure persecution and martyrdom. From then on, they no longer held on to their lives, but to Christ because He had life. The resurrection of Christ gave the disciples and also gives us assurance: death doesn’t have the last word, God leads us through death to eternal life.
Sometimes it seems impossible to believe. One of my camp students testified that while reading the creed on Camp Day, he kept his mouth shut while reading “I believe in the resurrection of the dead and eternal life.” He said he could not believe what he believes today.
The resurrection is much more understandable than many other things. Blaise Pascal, a French mathematician, physicist and philosopher, said, “It’s much easier to believe that those of us who have lived, worked, rejoiced, and worried will live again. After all, we are not surprised that people who have never existed come into this world every day. If it’s possible for God to make new people be born into this world, then it’s probably possible for the dead to rise to new life.”
The resurrection gives our lives eternal meaning and significance. At the same time, it gives us responsibility for eternity. Our lives become spacious and majestic. On Easter, we affirm that the forces of evil have been broken. Suffering and injustice can only prevail for a certain period of time. Ultimately, life and goodness will win. Faith in the resurrection gives you the strength to be good even in times of injustice, to live honestly in a world of lies, to love where there is hatred. The resurrection confirmed that sin and corruption could not break God, but God overcame sin and death. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25, ESV)
For a second year in a row, we are celebrating Easter differently than we are used to. Public services and ceremonial processions are banned due to the spread of a dangerous virus. But that does not prevent us from rejoicing in the resurrection of Christ. Even on the first Easter, only a few women went to look for the tomb of Jesus, but found something completely different – an empty tomb and were the first to witness the resurrection. Christ’s victory over death is final. Together with Him, we inherit eternal life.
The Resurrection Greeting unites us into a global and age-old family of believers, even when we do not see each other face to face today.
Christ has risen from the dead, trampled down death, and given life to those in the grave.
Haapsalu, April 4, 2021