An Easter Reflection
An Easter Reflection
Scripture: Matthew 28: 1-10
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!
The good news has been revealed to the two Mary’s and they are charged with sharing the message of Christ’s resurrection with the disciples. Jesus approaches them and they bow down in worship. Jesus says, “Go and tell my brothers and sisters to go to Galilee, there they will see me.”
The different gospel accounts will tell the story slightly differently, but the message we proclaim remains the same, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
As people of faith we proclaim that there is a life after this one. Stephen Colbert, the late night talk show host who identifies as a Roman Catholic, will often ask guests questions. Sometimes he will ask, “What do you think happens when we die?”
“And the answers vary widely. In a recent interview, Prince Harry responded, “I think we become animals.” Colbert clarified, “Like, we reincarnate?” “Yeah,” Harry replied.
The actor George Clooney spoke about how he was raised Catholic, like Colbert, but has left that behind. “But as I get older,” he said, laughing, “I start renegotiating things a little bit. And you start thinking well, maybe there is something that happens.”
Some of Colbert’s guests get very uncomfortable at this particular question. Others speak about the body decaying. Others simply express a wish to go to “somewhere beautiful.”
When asked this question, former first lady Michelle Obama said immediately, “We go to heaven.” And rock star Bono, also a Christian, said, “We are born. I actually believe that’s when we’re born, when we begin. These are labor pains…” (Kathryn Schifferdecker, https://www.workingpreacher.org/dear-working-preacher/the-foundation-of-christian-hope).
That’s an interesting concept, that this life represents the labour pains of the life that is to come. That’s what we believe, it gets articulated different ways, but we believe that something comes after this. Heaven, the resurrection of the body, we believe that something comes next.
But there is also the here and now. Jesus wasn’t just interested in what comes next. His message wasn’t don’t worry about it, everything will be fine at the resurrection. No, Jesus was very concerned about the here and now. His message had relevance to the time he walked this earth, and still carries relevance today. Relevance about how we live our lives and what matters to God in creation.
At a recent community event discussing homelessness I shared that I was a person who believed in resurrection. I shared that in order to have resurrection, you first need to have a death. I pondered what were the things that needed to die in order for something else to have new life. We can’t proclaim the good news that Christ is Risen, without the first travelling through the events of Good Friday and the death of Jesus. I wondered what things needed to die for us to have good conversations about caring for people who are homeless, addicted to substances, and dealing with trauma.
I ponder about that question as it pertains to us as a society. And it’s not a burn it down type of question. What are the little things that need to die in order for us as a community, a country to move forward and care for people better?
I also wonder that question about the church. Not just this community of faith, but others, and even the big ‘C’ church. The Presbyterian Church in Canada, what needs to be let go of, allowed to die, in order for new life to flourish.
I hear a lot of the following when I talk to people about church: I remember when. We’ve never done that before. That’s not how we do it.
If we are people who believe in resurrection, who profess to believe in life after death, why do we so often fight the death of certain things.
As Christians we are an Easter people. This is our day, not Christmas as enjoyable a time as it is. Easter is the season that defines us as a people of faith. We are resurrection people.
Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish theologian wrote, “Life must be lived forward, but it can only be understood backward.”
When we look back what are the things we are holding onto that prevent us from living in the present and travelling forward into the future?
This week I read a devotional from Nadia Bolz-Weber. In it she talked about the things that hold us back, that prevent us from growing. The following paragraph leaped off the page at me and I’ve reread it at least a dozen times this week. It’s a comment on how our emotions and feelings, especially regarding other people, can affect us.
She writes, “Perseverating negatively about the past, especially in terms of our resentments about what other people did to us, keeps us stuck in a maze. And being in that maze keeps us from moving forward. And it is difficult to leave the maze because our ego demands fairness. And since it is the PAST, usually there is no real resolution to be had. There is no adjudicatory process available to us, and even if there were, what are the odds that the people we resent tell the exact same version of the story of what bastards they were as we do.”
“Then he said this: Your quest for fairness puts your life in hold. (prevents forward motion)” (Nadia Bolz-Weber – https://thecorners.substack.com/p/kierkegaard-jonah-hill-my-big-sister?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email)
We proclaim a message of resurrection. A message of forward motion. A message that there is life, after death, after life. That is a powerful and liberating message and it is one I don’t think we’ve done a good job at sharing. We get stuck on the life part and we fear the death. But the good news offered by the angel to those women that morning was “He is not here, for he has been raised.”
He is not here. Stop looking behind you, stop looking beside your, and start looking in front of you. Christ leads the way. Share the good news of salvation that Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed! Amen.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.
St. Andrew’s supports the gathering of community agencies, providing space for the Affordable Housing Committee. Rev. Ellis’ voice is key in advocating for improvements in awareness, empathy and action on key determinants such as housing, income and food security.
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