Dear Parishioners,

St. Luke tells us that when Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, Joanna, and the other women arrived at Jesus' tomb, "they found the stone rolled away from the tomb," but they went in anyway. They were on a mission of mercy, to embalm Jesus' body, and they did not let fear stand in their way.  Because they did not, they received the message that changed the course of human history. "He is not here, but has risen."
Some seventy-three years ago, on the night of February 13, 1945, British incendiary bombs fell on the city of Dresden, Germany.  Helen Sievers, a 19-year old German Red Cross nurse there, was caring for German refugees who had just fled their homes in Silesia because the Red Army was approaching.  The refugees were mostly women and children, since their husbands had been ordered to stay behind to fight the Russians.  Sievers herded her charges into the cellar of the building where they were staying, and then went upstairs to see what was happening. A passing Wehrmacht soldier pointed out to her that there were flames coming out of the third story of her building.  He said that if they stayed in the cellar, they would all die like rats from asphyxiation, because the fire would suck up the much-needed oxygen. Indeed, of the 35,000 people who died in the fire-bombings, many died in air raid shelters because of lack of air. So Sievers immediately had the women and children bundle up.  She then proceeded to lead all 750 of them in a procession through the Dresden inferno to a school that was not burning near the Elbe River.  It was a five minute walk through hell: past collapsing buildings and bodies on fire, to safety.  Reflecting on her act of bravery fifty years later, Helen Sievers said, "I am not a hero.  I did it because that was the human thing to do."
In many of the situations which you and I face in life, when we are able to concentrate on "the human thing to do," we often are able to avoid unnecessary fears and anxieties. The women who came to the tomb on that first Easter morning, were about the task of anointing the body of their master and friend.  It was the human thing to do; fear was not an obstacle for them.
Jesus told us many times that the Kingdom of God is best evidenced in the relationships between people, between men and women.  We all know that the greatest treasures in your life and mine are our human relationships.
We discover that the greatest treasures we have in this life are those relationships; they are not our possessions; they are gifts of God to us.  We also realize that we cannot capture or freeze or hang on to those relationships forever. Like the women who came to the empty tomb on that first Easter morning, we discover that there is hope for the future.  Because Jesus lives, a new relationship, a new way of life, has already begun for us, and the possibilities that lie ahead for us are limitless.
The message, then, of this Easter season is that you and I are called to share that hope, that new life, that good news, with others.  When that happens, resurrection occurs.  Easter is the celebration of resurrection.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ is our timeless guarantee that God's power is set free in this world, and that, because he lives, we, and countless others like us, shall live also.  Lives are changed; we are given new life and hope; and you and I are able to exclaim, along with the whole company of believers through the ages, "He is risen!  The Lord is risen, indeed.  Alleluia!"
The Reverend Philip W. Stowell