12 Apr Easter Changes Everything
As I sit at my desk writing and working this morning, I hear our church organist in the background practicing for Sunday’s Easter service. If you can’t be inspired by the strains of Jesus Christ Is Risen Today, Thine Is the Glory, and The Hallelujah Chorus, then there’s just no helping you. Thanks, Jane. Can’t wait for Sunday!
I’ve been thinking a lot about resurrection lately, and not just because it’s Easter time. As I shared a few weeks ago, my father died in February. And, then a week ago I attended the memorial service of a friend and mentor. Roger had a significant impact on my life and in particular, on how I understand and practice my calling as a pastor. I miss him and I miss knowing he is in the world. The “irreverent reverend” is no longer a phone call away, nor is my dad. Death is so horribly permanent.
Or so it seems. But, the resurrection of Jesus Christ which the Church will celebrate on Sunday, proclaims a different truth, a different reality. It is a shocking truth, a truth that is hard to grasp, a truth that seems absolutely impossible. It is a truth that is so “out there” that a good many people can’t believe in the faith Christianity proclaims because of it. It’s always been that way. The Apostle Paul said that preaching Jesus Christ crucified and risen would be a “stumbling block” to some, and that’s as true now as it was in the 1st century.
But, I think there is another reason the resurrection is a difficult truth to come to grips with. If the resurrection is true, then that changes everything. EVERYTHING. It changes the way we look at death, certainly. But it also changes how we look at—and live—life. It changes our priorities. It completely upends our understanding of who is in charge of our lives. It changes how we relate to people and who we care for, because if the resurrection is true, then Christ is alive and we have been given a mission to love the people he loved, and that mission demands a lot of us, often a lot more than we really want to give. The kind of love Jesus talked about, demonstrated, and calls us to give away is love that gets its hands dirty, that is involved with people on the margins, that does the hard work of community. It’s love that bears the burdens of others and takes up a cross when necessary. No wonder we have some reservations about the resurrection.
At Roger’s memorial service, the program contained a quote from one of Roger’s mentors, Dr. John Bruere. Dr. Bruere’s words spoke powerfully to me about this whole dilemma of death, faith, and what we believe about God and Jesus’ resurrection. His thoughts have been good companions for me this Holy Week, and I pray they will be for you, as well:
“I do not think that heaven is a place somewhere beyond the galaxies. Our loved ones are not separated from us by millions of miles. I believe that heaven is all about us right now, peopled by our friends and loved ones.
If you are not yet sure of the Christian faith in immortality, start living as though Christ is alive, as though he is present with you, as though he was all power in heaven and on earth. Read about him in the New Testament. Try to talk with him. Try to live the way he lived. Follow his commands. Try to understand his teaching. Face the things that are wrong in your life. Deal with them as he told his disciples to deal with them. Associate with people who believe in him and are trying to do his work. Find some church where you feel at home, join it, start working in it wherever you fit into its [mission] of making a Christian world right in its own community. Do these things on the venture that Christ may be alive, that he may have risen from the dead, that he may have been the Son of God who died for our sins and saves us from ourselves.”
Dr. John Bruere
Amen and amen. Easter joy, friends!