Faith: Resurrection reorientation

Beware fear.

Photo illustration, Shutterstock, Inc.

An earthquake erupts in Jesus’s resurrection as it’s told in the gospel of Matthew. I’ve personally never experienced an earthquake, but I am told it’s incredibly disorienting and like nothing you can really imagine.

One person described being in an earthquake outdoors and seeing the pavement in a parking lot roll just like waves in the ocean, feeling almost seasick and so helpless just to get balance and stand up.

Whether you have literally experienced an earthquake or not, I think we are all experiencing disorientation to some degree right now having lived through two years of upheaval and continued turmoil on a global scale.

And in Matthew’s account of Jesus’s resurrection, there are two very opposite reactions to this disorientation. The first reaction is that “the guards shook and became like dead men.”

The guards were paralyzed in fear. Motionless, like statues. Numb. Frozen. Perhaps it’s like they were curving inward to drop, cover and hold on to life as they used to know it - protecting themselves from any of this disorienting stuff happening all around them. Fear enveloped them, and they were stuck, just as it can be for us today.


Messages of fear surround us today, too - some very legitimate. There are frightening things that are troublesome, and we need to be aware of and acknowledge them.

But fear can’t ever get the upper hand. Because you know what fear does - fear separates, fear divides, fear kills. Fear keeps us frozen, under cover and holding on, our fists clenched - in isolation - shaking our heads and saying, "What can I do about it anyway? I’m just one person," or "It’s really someone else’s problem."

We stay stuck, disoriented and dead.

But the women in the story, they have a different reaction to this earthshaking event. What do they do?

Even though they are afraid, too, it doesn’t paralyze them. They move, they go, with the assurance of the angel. They listen despite uncertainty, even though it’s disorienting and scary. Scripture says they go with joy, and tell the good news of Jesus’ rising from the dead!

They’re not trying to stay and hold on; they do have fear. But they’re not letting it get the best of them. They’re moving forward with trust, with hope. They go and tell.

And what happens in the midst of them going to tell others? They have an encounter with the risen Christ that empowers them all the more. I bet they run all the faster and more boldly after that to share the good news, the new life of the risen Christ for all!

THIS will change people’s lives forever - this is the Reorientation of the Resurrection. It reorients our disorientation and changes how we live forever.


Could this resurrection power also be what empowers the Ukrainian people in disorienting times like war to keep going and do what needs to be done as we witness all the brave and awful stories that break our hearts and persist in our prayers?

We, too, will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection reorienting our lives this Sunday. We have Christ’s resurrection power that sets us free each and every day of our lives from a disorientating way of living, from frozen fear living.

Christ sets us free from fear that wants to separate and divide us. Through the gift of the resurrection, God reorients us, giving us Christ to ground and guide our lives. We are God’s precious and beloved people. We don’t need to be afraid, because with his life, Christ conquered anything that could separate us from the love of God. That’s what Easter is all about!

We have the living Christ who walks with us, talks with us and tells us we are his own. Christ replaces our fear with joy and gives us the gift of new life through his death and resurrection.

That doesn’t mean we won’t feel afraid from time to time, but it means we won’t let fear hold us back from what God calls us to do each day as we share God’s love and grace and freedom with all people.

So let us all be reoriented again this Easter by the resurrection of Christ our Lord! Amen!

Kristin Oltmann is the pastor at Crosslake Lutheran Church.

Related Topics: FAITHEASTER
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