Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019
Apr 18, 2019
Happy Easter, may the peace and glory of the Easter message be with you!
There are two ways of muting the Easter message. First is simply to deny it. The story of Jesus becomes the tale of a good man savagely put to death by Rome and a small group of Jewish collaborators. There was no empty tomb, no Risen Christ. It could not happen, therefore it did not happen. This kind of reasoning seems curiously out of date but still is present in some places.
Another way of muting the Easter story would be to allow it to become commercialized, similar to Christmas, or allow the Easter story to be sentimentalized. Easter becomes a Spring Festival celebrating a winter world coming to life once more. Easter is a springtime feast, but it is not a feast of spring. Spring takes us down a path we have been on before and hopefully will walk again. Lazarus is a better symbol for spring. He returned to life and the world he had known. He would remain long enough to die again.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He did return to His friends and their world. He ate supper with them and he picnicked with them on the seashore in Galilee. But this risen life of His was not “more of the same.” He had entered upon a new life, one that could no longer be touched by death. More important, this new life of His was not simply a personal triumph but one He would share fully with them. He had been dead; now he lived. A whole new age was underway for a confused and troubled world. The world would go on, but it would never be the same.
Christ is alive and is with us as he promised “until the end of time.” He is not with us to judge or to punish, but rather to gather us all around him in a new life, beyond all feuds, factions, and divisions; beyond fear and guilt; beyond compromise with injustice or evil in whatever shape it may take. This is the life He offers, a life that is both promise and challenge.
When Jesus first appeared to his disciples after the resurrection, he found them covered in fear and guilt. He embraced them with his gift of peace. He had not come to condemn but to share the glory he knew in his new life. As “the firstborn of the dead,” Jesus bestowed a new destiny on our weary race. We were no longer destined to crash on the shores of death and despair. We were promised something brand new, a life not capable of death. We are also called to be this new life right here and right now.
We are the Body of Christ extended in time and space and although we still suffer the limitations that sin and brokenness have brought upon us, we share the risen life of Christ. The Easter story is alive in our hearts and in our midst, and that is why we gather this day and every Sunday to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.
In closing, a Christian one-liner for Easter: “The best mathematical equation ever seen: 1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given.”
Happy Easter and let us continue to pray for peace in our world!
In peace and courage,