By Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith
“They found the stone rolled away from the tomb [and] did not find the body [and] they were perplexed about this ….” Luke 24.2-4
In 33 A.D. a group of women came to the tomb of Jesus to anoint His body. After being violently assaulted, tortured, and crucified on a cross, Jesus’ broken body was laid to rest in a tomb. Many of these same women—including Mary, the mother of Jesus—had beheld the brutal ordeal and sought to not only honor the body of Jesus but his memory.
Imagine the horror of Mary and her community witnessing such a brutal and unjust death of her son. But also imagine the awful surprise of not finding Jesus upon arriving at the tomb where He had been laid to rest.
During this year’s transitional season of Lent to Good Friday and then to the Great Resurrection, we too still give witness to the many vivid images of violent death and the daily announcements awfulness of missing persons. The daily images of Ukrainian peoples affected by conflict that breeds this continue to haunt us. Ethiopian people, especially in Tigray, as well as people in places like Yemen, Nigeria, and South Sudan also experience conflict, and hunger is a result.
Did you know that 98 percent of the population of Afghanistan, affected by years of conflict, do not have enough to eat? One million children under the age of five could die from malnutrition by the end of the year. In Yemen and other places around the world, food prices have doubled. Did you also know Russia and Ukraine are responsible for 29 percent of global wheat exports—19 percent from Russia, 10 percent from Ukraine, and they also produce fertilizer and fuel? The result being that our global food system is and will continue to be affected no matter where we are in the world.
We are called to be bearers of surprising hope that the women experienced when they realized that Jesus body was not taken away at the tomb, but that Jesus had risen! We see, for example, surprising hope with the Ukrainian churches providing refuge and medical aid in 10th and 11th century churches. There is surprising hope in the 120 rock-hewn churches in Ethiopia providing sanctuary. There is surprising hope in the unified global outcry denouncing the violent assaults, especially on civilians, in places like these and providing support.
But more is needed to move from seasons of Good Friday to Resurrection. Our devotional life matters. This, alongside the spiritual practice of being an advocate with and for those who are affected by conflict, war, hunger, and poverty is timely and quite important. Bread for the World has been advocating for emergency aid for Ukraine, but also for emergency food aid to address hunger around the world due to chaos, climate change, and conflict. Won’t you join us in advocating for surprising hope through prayer and advocacy engagement? Here is the link to advocate with us and a global hunger map.
Angelique Walker-Smith is senior associate for Pan African and Orthodox Church engagement at Bread for the World.