Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Luke 24:5-6 (NIV)
One of the profound memories from my childhood harks back to the Cathedral Peak Hotel in the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa. Our family was on holiday in what was an idyllic setting of sandstone and granite peaks towering 2000 meters over a lush valley in which we’d enjoyed two weeks of swimming, hiking, lawn bowling, eating lashings of great food, and horse riding (maybe my father didn’t enjoy the horse riding – he fell and broke his arm).
Toward the end of our stay my brother and I were playing dive–bombers with the other children. The game consisted of running full-tilt across the lawn, yelling kamikaze like threats at the top of our lungs, then leaping into the pool with our legs tucked up to our buttocks in order to make a huge splash. The best dive-bomber was the child who made the biggest waves.
Suddenly one of the mothers sitting off to one side of the pool leapt to her feet screaming, “Noooo … !” Her cry of alarm stopped us dead in our tracks as, almost instantaneously; a fully clothed man dived into the pool. People were running from every direction and someone was screaming, “He’s drowning! He’s drowning!” We watched, mesmerised as a lifeless body was retrieved from the bottom of the pool, hauled out by willing hands, and whisked away in a car that careened off in a cloud of dust.
A slough of despair settled over the resort. For the first time in my life I felt fragile and vulnerable, mainly because the adults were helpless and afraid. They tried to hide it from us (the children) by saying, “Everything’s going to be all right,” but we could see from the consternation in their eyes that it wasn’t.
In the dining room that night there was an uncanny hush as grim faced waiters served patrons listlessly picking at their food. We were all feeling guilty … Then an announcement from the hotel manager, “Your attention please. He’s alive!” The announcement electrified the room. We jumped to our feet, some spilling drinks or knocking over chairs in the excitement … clapping vigorously we cheered at the top of our voices. It was an unbelievable moment. People were smiling and laughing … repeating over and over again, “He’s alive! He’s alive!”
“He’s alive!” Two words that changed everything … and the words that better than any other words encapsulate the Easter Story – He’s alive! Alleluia! Christ the Lord is risen today! Praise His holy name!