A Week of Sundays
Pastor Dave's monthly newsletter article for May, 2014
We are an Easter people.
There is no lack of discussion, these days, about how to understand Good Friday. Some Christians understand the death of Jesus as God’s perfect plan, determined long beforehand, that places the debt for our sin on the shoulders of Jesus, and sets us free. Others view the death of Jesus as a natural (but not necessarily pre-determined) reaction by a sinful (read: threatened) group of religious and political leaders, who simply can’t tolerate the radical new relationship with God that Jesus is making possible. Yet others believe that in the death of Jesus God is taking on death itself, putting an end to all systems of sacrifice, and proclaiming that no longer will humans be expected to pay a price for their sin. (And, honestly, some Christians prefer to forget about Good Friday altogether.) In two thousand years of trying, we have not been able to come up with one common understanding of exactly how the crucifixion of Jesus makes our forgiveness possible, and I doubt this will change any time soon.
But Easter: that’s another story altogether. In the image of the empty tomb, and in the proclamation of the resurrection, we see clearly that death can’t hold Jesus. Our God is more powerful than the grave. And what’s more: God uses this power to set us free from sin and death, to raise us to new life whenever we have fallen, and to promise us the gift of a new beginning.
We are an Easter people, and amidst the pain and brokenness of this life, we hold on to the promise of the resurrection. When health fails, when relationships are strained, when the job disappears, when we are assaulted by fear and distress, the promise of life calls us forward. Our God, who has defeated the powers of death, has promised to raise us from all that is dying in our lives.
We are an Easter people. That is why we take only one day to stand by our Lord in his suffering and dying (Good Friday), but choose to celebrate Easter for a week of Sundays. From April 20th through June 8th (this year) we will light the Paschal Candle, sing the Alleluia, meet Christ in the meal, and proclaim to the entire world that our God lives, and promises us the gift of life.
So happy Easter to you, Easter People. During this season, may God take hold of our hearts and our lives, and draw them into the power of love. May Christ be present to us in the word and in the meal, granting us forgiveness and a new beginning. And may the Holy Spirit empower our faithfulness and our witness, so that the lives of those we know and love might be graced with the Good News of Jesus Christ that has touched our hearts.
Have a wonderful Easter season, friends. I hope to see you in church with us often! And may the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7).
God’s peace to you all,