Over the past week and a half, I have had the great privilege to spend time with colleagues and emerging leaders from the halls of Africa University (AU) during the Spring 2018 Board of Trustees meeting. What a joy it has been to spend Holy Week in such a place that is filled with vibrant praise for the gifts that Christ gave each of us.
Now, admittedly most of us are not joy-filled after hours of traveling from place to place and the journey to AU is not short by any sense of the word. It was 11 p.m. when I arrived at the Meikles Hotel in Harare, Zimbabwe and I needed to rise at 6:30 a.m. for the nearly three-hour commute still ahead of us to complete our journey to Mutare, Zimbabwe, and our final destination, AU. On this last leg of our trip, we would cross what is commonly referred to as the “Bridge of Dreams” as we entered the United Methodist-related institution that has produced graduates serving in more than 30 African nations, as well as other countries around the world as politicians, scientist, farmers, professors, educators, medical professionals, and much more. I can definitely say that it is surely a bridge to where dreams begin to come true.
As I reflected on the travel from the day, I recalled the friendly voice at the front desk of my hotel in Harare who responded to my wake-up call request with these kind words, “Would you like a cup of tea or coffee with your 6:30 a.m. wake-up call?”
This offer or act of care and hospitality, brought a smile to my face as it warmed the heart of this weary traveler so much that I was at a loss for words. I have traveled the world both personally and in the context of ministry and mission and have laid my head for rest in many different places for more than hundreds of nights before a meeting or visiting a church, I cannot recall being offered a cup of tea with my wake-up call, ever. And this made me think, “What a good morning tomorrow will be.”
Good mornings are those that have the promise of excitement from something new or the anticipation of something that we have wanted for some time. Though with excitement, there can also come fear or anxiety as we consider the unknown or unfamiliar, and at times the thought might come that all of this excitement is, as the millennials might say, just “hype.” However, as we wake with a mix of emotions we should always remember that the risen Christ has said to us, “do not be afraid.”
In the last chapter of the Gospel of Matthew these words appear after what can be described as long, agonizing, and even torturous two days, “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.” (Matthew 28:1)
The book of Matthew goes on to end with the risen Christ speaking to his disciples, promising them that our Savior will be with us for the rest of life's journey. I cannot help but think that Matthew 28:8 is a good place to pause and reflect, "With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples." But Jesus met them and greeted them by saying, "Do not be afraid."
Jesus is with us at every stage of life, in times of excitement and in times of fear. He has said it and it is true.
In all the Gospel accounts of the death, burial, and resurrection, the stone is gone, the tomb is empty and Jesus is risen! Easter is a good morning not just because he is risen, risen indeed.
Easter is a good morning because Jesus meets us and greets us saying, "Good
morning, do not be afraid."
In fact, Jesus says to all of us. "Have a sit down before you continue your journey. I know all about
it and I will be there with you.”
So let us begin this spring morning with a cup of tea, or do you prefer coffee? Remember Jesus says, "I'm with you for the long haul."
Have a blessed and joyous Easter!
Bishop Julius C. Trimble