Matthew 28:5-7 – The angel spoke to the women, "You must not be afraid," he said. "I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has been raised, just 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.'"
On April 1 of this year I was scheduled for an operation in the North Bay General Hospital about sixty miles from here. I don't like operations. I was somewhat worried and upset. It was not a major operation but it was critical. If it were successful I could normally expect to live for several years; if not, my days would be numbered. I began thinking about death. It would mean leaving loved ones; giving up the happy way of life we were enjoying in retirement, along with some precious hopes and plans for the future. What is it like to die? If there is really another world, what will it be like? How will I be received? I had had lots of answers for others in similar circumstances. Now it was my turn. Then relief came.
It was Easter Sunday morning. The minister's sermon hit home directly. She emphasized the words of the angel to the women at the empty tomb. "He is not here. He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him." He is going ahead of you into all your tomorrows, she assured us. He will be with you always. Later in the service she had prayers for two of us who were facing operations. Several others told me that they would be praying for me. One special lady made her prayer very clear "that the Lord would lay his healing hand upon me." I will never forget those words.
In the same sermon the minister picked up on the words "there you will see him." Where do we see the risen Christ? In the faces of fellow Christians. This turned out to be the final blessing.
It happened this way. A marvellous young couple volunteered to do the driving for us to the hospital and stayed there until the operation was over. At the moment that I was wheeled away to the operating room, each of them touched me gently, and in their faces I glimpsed the wonder of the love and compassion of our Lord Jesus. The anxiety melted away. I felt buoyed up and completely at peace. No matter what happened, I knew all would be well. And it was! Thanks be to God for his many faithful people.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, we praise and thank you for your constant love and everlasting mercy. We thank you that you go before us into all our tomorrows and yet you never leave us in our present moments. For your faithful people in whose faces we recognize your likeness and in whose actions we can see you at work, we thank you. By your Spirit touch all who are worried and upset and give them your peace. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.