Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter: Hope and Challenge

Easter is a time of great celebration. It is the pinnacle of the Church year, a day when we remember the resurrection of our Savior. Why do we celebrate? Why do we make such a big deal of this day? I would suggest that we celebrate for two reasons. The Resurrection gives us hope for the future, and it gives us hope and a challenge for today.

We have a hope for the future. Jesus said that he is the resurrection and the life, and that those who believe in him will never die. The apostle Paul tells us that Jesus' resurrection means that we too shall be raised. When the kingdom of heaven comes in its fulfillment, we will be raised to never die. The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our future hope.

We also have a challenge and a hope for our day-to-day. When you look at the gospel accounts of the Resurrection, what you don't see are mentions of the future hope. The followers of Jesus don't say, "Jesus has been raised, so we will be raised from the dead and live with him forever." That is in the rest of the New Testament, but the sense of the first disciples was more about now. Jesus is raised, so he is the Messiah. Jesus is raised, so new creation has begun. Jesus is raised, so we have a job to do. We are called to be heralds of this new kingdom.

Easter changes everything! The restoration has begun! We are subjects of a new kingdom, a kingdom of love, repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation. It is a kingdom in which we lay down our lives for our King and for others. It is a kingdom that puts loving God and loving others ahead of everything else. That is the challenge. There is hope along with the challenge.

The cross calls us to come and die. The empty tomb calls us to find that we can truly live. Because Jesus is raised, his Spirit is now in us, so we can die daily. We can give up our wishes, our desires, our comfort, our need to be right, our self-righteousness. We can show the world the truth, beauty, and goodness of Jesus by the way we love.

While we may live in the in-between time before the restoration is complete, we can live as Easter people because Jesus is raised. Let us begin to live in the power of the Resurrection today.

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