"He is risen; He is not here!"

With these words the angel gave Mary Magdalene and others hope that the death of Jesus was not the end of a dream, or promise or hope.

The events of Jesus' arrest, trial and crucifixion would be seared into their memories for a long time. Our Lenten study has looked at some of the details of Jesus' death that we often gloss over or forget about in our rush to Easter.

It's a little bit like wanting to sing Christmas carols in Advent, isn't it?

And now, as the women go to the tomb to perform the last burial rites, the ones that time would not permit because of the Sabbath, their grief and loss is turned to confusion, and eventually into joy!

He is risen; He is not here! "Why do you look for the living among the dead?"

Some predict that Christianity is a dying religion, that the time of Christianity's influence on the world is coming to an end, or to some, has already happened. Some might say of us, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?"

At times our churches, our lives, seem more dead than alive. We don't seem to have much of the joy that being a Christian is supposed to bring.

Christianity is not dead! The influence of Christians on the world has not passed into obscurity! You and I have the power to renew the world through a life-changing message of a God who loves us more than hates us; who came to save us more than judge us; and who wants us to live lives that reflect that good news.

Yes, Jesus died on a cross, but it was for our salvation. Yes, he faced the pain and sheer terror of feeling abandoned by God, but he also knew God was with him. He experienced first hand - DEATH - and he rose again to quell our fears and give us hope.

He is risen; He is not here! He is in our hearts, in our mouths and in our deeds. Celebrate!