This week’s eNewsletter Feature
was written by Rev. Dr. Raymond Hylton,
FPCE senior pastor. 

Dear Friends,

Photo of “The Garden Tomb” in Jerusalem.

This year, the message of the Resurrection means more to me, has a deeper resonance, considering the recent death of my mother. Seeing her take her last breath was a sad moment. But when she closed her eyes, she was in the presence of her Redeemer. The Resurrection means that Jesus not only defeated death for himself, but he defeated it for us. Because Jesus lives, I know I will see my mother with a glorified body one day.

This June will make it four years since I visited the Holy Land. That experience, shared with 20 or so members of our church who were also there, will stay with me forever.

Of all the Biblical sites that I visited there, the one that stands out most is “The Garden Tomb” in busy Jerusalem, just outside the Old City walls. Historically, this is not said to be the actual place where Jesus was buried and raised up. But some Protestants do consider this site the tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathea, where Jesus was buried.  

In comparison to the baroquely ornate Church of the Holy Sepulchre, overflowing with thousands of boisterous tourists, the Garden Tomb, though not the recognized historical site, gave me a space that was quiet, free from distractions to ponder the power and meaning of the Resurrection. 

In memory of that place, I try reimagining what it must have looked like in the moment the burly Roman soldiers passed out when the Angel appeared and rolled away the stone.  

Early the next morning, Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” came with bags of spices to prepare the Lord’s body for final burial. There, the Angel was waiting for them with the message for all time and eternity Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee, there you will see him. This is my message for you. (Matthew 28: 5-7) 

During this Holy Week, I want you to join us for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services. Let these services prepare your heart for Resurrection Sunday.  

John Stott was right — Christianity is in its very essence a resurrection religion. The concept of resurrection lies at its heart. If you remove it, Jesus’ mission on earth is aborted, Christianity is destroyed. 

We praise and glorify you, Lord God, for Christ, our life, is risen and has conquered sin and death. He has broken the chains that bind us and freed us to live in his kingdom of light. May Christ enlighten the hearts of all who believe. May Christ transform this world that longs to see him, enlightening the hearts of all who believe, and restore all creation to its rightful place. Glory, praise, thanksgiving, and blessing to you, O God, victor over sin and death, now and forever. Amen 

(Presbyterian Church. Book of Common Worship [p. 831]. Presbyterian Publishing) 

Come, worship Jesus Christ with me this Easter.  

Grateful for Jesus, our Lord, 

Pastor Ray Hylton 

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