By the Rev. DANIEL C. KOVALAK
Special to the Sun-Gazette
Cable TV gives us a wide variety of channels (filled with "nothing to watch.") Personally, I often revert to the station that has the only news we can really use: The Weather Channel. In addition to the local forecast, it has reports from people it calls "storm chasers." The channel execs dispatch these fearless(?) employees into the heart of every storm where they courageously stand (or at least, try to) in blizzards, tornados, tsunamis and hurricanes, through wind, snow, rain, mud and ice to deliver eyewitness reports of the awesome power of nature. Whatever they pay them is not enough.
Despite the inherent dangers, risks and hazards, everyone seems to enjoy the thrill, excitement and adventure of the chase - for whatever reason. Children at play in a game of tag, for example, are full of excitement and get much exercise engaging in the chase - as do the parents running after them.
Though we don't often conceive it as such, our desire to engage in the chase carries through adulthood. It's always been the case. In the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes, we read in just a few verses that the great and wise King Solomon chased after pleasure, laughter, wine, jewels, houses, vineyards, fruit trees, silver, gold, orchards and music. And he ultimately "caught" everything he chased!
Reflecting, however, on all the wealth and wisdom and stuff he'd accumulated, he says, "Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun" (2:11). Finally, with righteous wisdom, he concludes by saying, "Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man" (12:13).
It rightly can be said that Jesus Christ was the greatest storm chaser who ever lived. He was sent by His Father into the storm of fallen humanity: not to observe and report but to rescue mankind from the tsunami of sin, the hurricane of corruption, the tornado of death. After revealing in word and deed the will of God to save man and facing the winds and waves of ingratitude, hypocrisy, defiance and contempt, He ultimately, voluntarily, stretched out His arms upon a cross and declared of the storm: "It is finished!"
After weeks of Lenten reflection, we now find ourselves excitedly chasing the intense, spiritual joy of Jesus' glorious resurrection from the dead, celebrating our deliverance from the storm, in the hope it will penetrate our hearts with a personal experience of the immeasurable love of our Lord as revealed through His cross and empty tomb. Easter eggs and chocolate bunnies fall far short of capturing that joy.
We've probably weathered many storms in our lives by God's grace. We've heard His words, seen His miracles and felt His peace. Now "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life." And like those who "departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to tell his disciples" (Matthew 28:8), we run to share the good news of the resurrection to a world that often seems to prefer darkness to light, evil to good, and death to life.
Solomon was right. Regardless of the things we're so often consumed with chasing in life, our duty is to fear God and keep His commandments. The Great Storm chaser has visited and redeemed us! Let us worship Him!
- Kovalak is the pastor at Holy Cross Orthodox Church, 1725 Holy Cross Lane in Loyalsock Township.