Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Amen! Alleluia!
So goes the traditional Easter greeting. It's been used for years upon years across multiple denominations, and for good reason. In just a few short words, it captures come of the main messages of the Resurrection and emphasizes one in particular: hope.
Still, it's easy to miss the message of hope in the acclamation, so let's take a closer look at it. "Christ is risen!" means, well, Christ is rise. He's alive. The grave could not hold him; death was defeated, sin atoned for, eternal life opened to all who would believe. His death didn't get the last word; love, holy and sacrificial, got the last word. It's a word of victory, forgiveness, life, and salvation. Because of that word of love, we can have hope. It's true love is greater than hope, and even out of the three great gifts of God -- faith, hope, and love -- love remains the greatest.
But let's not count out hope entirely. Hope is an incredibly powerful thing. It possesses a unique power to preserve life and to give people the motivation to carry on into the future. It shines a light in the darkest of times to tell us what is isn't necessarily what will be. And that spark can make all the difference in the world. Hope gives us the power to keep going.
Christians have the greatest hope of all: the hope of our own resurrection as made possible through the great Resurrection of Jesus Christ. His rising again tells us that no matter how bad it gets, no matter how horrible our lives (and deaths) may be in this world, we will one day rise from the grave, be given a perfect and glorified body, and enter into the joy of our Master.
To that we say amen and alleluia! Praise God for the hope gained through an empty tomb.