Dear BWA Family,
This Easter, like many around the world, my soul aches. As I have prepared for Easter this year, I find myself connecting with the emotional uncertainty underlying the Gospels’ accounts of Jesus’ death. My soul has ached alongside those who walked with Jesus, loved him, and in following him found in that moment, disquiet.
I read again the prayers in the garden for a physical rescue that did not occur, crowds scattering in the face of uncertainty, and crises of identity in the mirror of self-reflection. The Scriptures record blame-shifting leaders who wash their hands of responsibility, pressures exerted on a government to pursue action in the name of security and religion, and of goods divided by lottery. The Gospels narrate tears wept as from a distance, a loved one is lost; people running but remaining uncertain about the best way to move forward; and a change in Jesus’ resurrected appearance but to a form that cannot yet be fully embraced. The first Easter announcement was given in the isolation of upper rooms and locked homes.
Jesus said, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19).
If you find yourself this Easter with uncertain prayers, questioned identity, divided public leadership, exhaustion from running, mourning from watching loved ones suffer and die at a distance, and isolation in your home, hear again Jesus’ words spoken that first Easter into such a context, “Peace be with you.” Jesus understands. Jesus prays with us when we weep tears into the night for a personal, physical rescue that might not occur. Jesus walks with us when we struggle and stumble up insurmountable hills. Jesus comes to us when we gather in our individual homes. Jesus embraces the suffering of the world when he opens his palms, exposes his side, and invites us to touch the very wounds of hurt, pain, and death.
Twice the Gospel of John records, “Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’” (John 20:19, 26) Would you allow the truth of peace to wash over you? Would you feel Jesus breathe into your life – peace. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55) For as Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Peace be with you, and peace be with this world.
In the midst of much pain may we invite those suffering to touch with us the wounds of Jesus and find peace. For Jesus’ wounds are deep enough to encompass all the suffering in this world. His love is strong enough to see us through the darkest of nights. His forgiveness is expansive enough to take your shame and sin. His tomb is empty that we may point to the promise of life in Jesus. Christ is risen!
The nails could not hold him. The seal could not secure him. The stone could not stop him. The tomb could not contain him. Jesus lives. Christ is risen! He stands in our midst and says, “Peace be with you.” Would you proclaim that promise this Easter? It is peace that comes in the midst of pain. In your own life, would you proclaim peace in Jesus? In the world around us, may we offer this hope; in Jesus, peace. This Easter, offer as a gift to our neighbors, cities and countries, an extension of Jesus in our prayers, words, and sacrificial action – peace.
On behalf of the Baptist World Alliance, a family standing together in 125 countries and territories, this Easter, “peace be with you.”
Rev. Elijah Brown, Ph.D. General Secretary
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