Fear and Great Joy

April 176, 2023

“So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples.”

 ~Matthew 28:8 NRSV

Have you ever felt fear and great joy at the same time? I’ll admit that fear and great joy don’t appear to make good bedfellows. But that is exactly what Mary Magdalene and the other Mary experienced.  When they arrived at the tomb on the first Easter morning they encountered the lightening-snow-white brilliance of an angel who rolled the stone away and shared the good news that Jesus had risen from the dead.

My parents taught me to fear certain things, for good reason. Reaching into a pan on the stove is still a good way to get burned. They were right, based on my experience of trying to grab a piece of bacon frying in the pan and getting burned. Putting your finger into an electric outlet was dangerous. Maybe the bacon burn scared me enough to never put my finger in an outlet. Heat and electricity can be dangerous and need to be handled with great caution. The power of the Triune God: Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer is far beyond my understanding. I’ve often imagined it to be like being right at the rim of the Grand Canyon and looking over the edge. Fear of the awesomeness of creation, mixed with great joy as getting a glimpse of it.

A recent memory came to me as I was mulling over the resurrection story in Matthew. A moment when fear and great joy came hand-in-hand. Our younger granddaughters begged me to go on a spinning cups ride at Disney World. Spinning hasn’t sat well with my inner ear for decades. I noticed little children having fun. No one was getting hurt or flying away. If a five-year-old was safe, surely I would be as well.

It started off slow, then increased in speed as my two wonderful grandchildren spun the wheel in the middle to make us go in circles faster. I screamed, repeatedly and loudly, then suddenly my screams of fear turned into the joy of the moment. It was a tiny sliver of fear and great joy hand-in-hand. ~ Rev. Anne

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