Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Last month, I ended my article rather incomplete (at least that was how I felt). Because we were in the last days of Lent, I just could not utter the “A” word. Jesus Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! A_ _ _ _ _ _ _!! It is now time to fill in the blanks. Jesus Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! A L L E L U I A!! Ahhh – there is something very satisfying about that complete proclamation.
So, how is Easter going for you so far? The Easter season is a week of weeks; seven Sundays when we live into the mystery of Christ’s presence, mostly through the Gospel of John. Easter began on April 1, but it continues through the Day of Pentecost, May 20.
When we look at the texts that we use during the Easter season. We can divide Easter into two parts. The first three Sundays deal with the fact of the Resurrection and the events surrounding it. We have now heard the disciples gather on the first Easter, and Jesus breathes the Spirit on them and on us. Then, Thomas asks for a sign and Jesus offers him and us his wounded self in the broken bread, “take and eat.”
The remaining four Sundays deal with the meaning of the Resurrection: What does it mean to have a Resurrected Lord? What does an Easter life look like? The first Sunday of the second half (the Fourth Sunday of Easter) is called Good Shepherd Sunday because on that Sunday we always have a Gospel reading from John 10, in which Jesus is described as the Good Shepherd.
Throughout the Easter season, our ears ring with the shouts of “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!” But I think for most of us, our lives don’t look much different than they did during Lent, or any other time of year. We wake up on Easter morning with the same struggles that we had the week before, and will likely have in the weeks to come. They are the same struggles which most people face, whether they are part of the church or not.
I recently had someone tell me that they questioned God’s love for them, because of the hardships they were facing. So, what difference is Easter making in our lives? For me, the difference comes down to one word: hope. The resurrection of Jesus gives us hope that our struggles are not in vain. Whatever suffering we must endure will be temporary; because Christ has been raised, we will be raised. We do not understand why, if God is love, there is so much suffering in the world. We do not understand why Jesus had to suffer and die as He did. But, we believe that out of Christ’s suffering, that out of our suffering, even out of death itself, God will bring new life. It is this hope that enables us to carry on in spite of all our difficulties. God has enabled the church to carry on in spite of much opposition, and conflicts both within and without. As the hymn writer said, “We are Easter people, reborn to a new life, and we trust that one day tears and sorrow and suffering will be at an end.” Until that day comes, may the joy and the hope of the Resurrection sustain you, and may God’s peace be with you.
Pr. Paul <><
p.s. Did you know??? I think I am going to add a p.s.s. section and use some quotes of Luther. I am going to call it “Did you know that Luther said??”
p.s.s. - Did you know that Luther said??? “I must listen to the gospel. It tells me not what I must do, but what Jesus Christ the Son of God has done for me.