What does it mean to be an Easter people? This is the question I am asking myself this week.
Many of you joined us on Sunday, during Soul Sparks and worship, as we began the Holy Week journey. We thought together about the twists and turns of Jesus’ final days in Jerusalem, under the watchful eye of the religious authorities and the Roman Empire. We talked about how, in our world, things aren’t that different. A foreign prophet who welcomed the ill and children, drove out the loan sharks, and captivated thousands — he might well fear for his life in this country today.
We waved our palms in the air, celebrating Jesus’ triumphal march, at the beginning of worship. But by the end of the service, when we sang, “Were you there, when they crucified my Lord?”, we had settled into a different mood.
Across our world, it can be difficult to see signs of Resurrection. The ongoing news from Syria, the tragic bombings on Palm Sunday in Egypt. And, on a smaller scale, the ridiculous, violent de-boarding of a passenger from a United flight in Chicago, which has gone viral online and symbolizes the cruelty of a financial system where the bottom line now means everything.
What it means to be an Easter people is to “practice Resurrection,” in the words of the poet Wendell Berry. It means, first and foremost, seeing possibility and hope where on first glance there appears to be none.
In your own life, maybe there is a relationship that seems to have worn out. Maybe there is a fear that keeps gnawing at you. What we know from our story of the empty tomb is that God works unexpected outcomes from our current situations. Our faith lets us see a little further than we might see otherwise. And it empowers us to take action on behalf of what we believe. Despair and frustration are part of this life — and no honest Christian should deny that. But Easter reminds us that there is always another chapter to the story.
“Love gets the last word,” as one of my ministers liked to say around this time of year! I hope that for you, and for the people you love, the Resurrection story comes alive this week and the next: in the ongoing possibility of change, in the joy of slowing down and savoring life, and in small acts of justice that foreshadow our Risen God’s reign.
Whether or not I see you bright and early on Easter morning (worship details on the following page!), know you are in our thoughts during this powerful time of the year.