If you are a pastor, you are probably tired this morning! You may feel as “snuffed out” as one of the candles at the Good Friday Tenebrae service. You have kept homiletical vigil over the season of Lent, and yesterday you tried to present the best news ever: the last enemy, death, has been conquered. Christ is risen, indeed.
It is not just members of the clergy who are weary, faithful laypersons have sought to live into spiritual disciplines that have cultivated attentiveness. We have tried to make the past forty days (a little more than a tithe of the year) a time of creating space in our lives for the stirrings of the Spirit.
Over the next few Sundays, the New Testament readings from the Gospel of John and Acts, as well as 1 Peter (where we do not linger enough) will explore what it means “that death is behind Jesus,” in the words of Moltmann. We will learn anew that resurrection is not just about what happened to Jesus; it is the hope for all creation, including us.
First Peter offers this affirmation about the impact of Easter:
Praise be the Abba God of our Savior Jesus Christ, who with great mercy gave us new birth: a birth into hope, which draws its life from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; a birth to an imperishable inheritance incapable of fading or defilement, which is kept in heaven for you . . . (1:3-4).
We are “born into hope” because of God’s action in Jesus, through the power of the Spirit. Death retains a powerful hold on humanity, especially untimely, violent and lingering experiences. The inescapabilty of death prompts us to try to secure our lives, and we overreach. Because humans inveterately behave this way, Moltmann turns the equation around and says: “The wages of death is sin.”
We can live as resurrected people, knowing that the horror of a godforsaken death is behind us. We do not have to cling so desperately to this life, our things, or even our disappointments about how we have managed our years. All the promise of our lives—some fulfilled, some left fallow—will be gathered up into God’s eternity.
With the Spirit as our companion, we can move from life, through death, to life. It is God’s pattern of making all things new. In our baptism, we have been “buried with Christ,” and are “risen to walk in newness of life.” While we have hope beyond death, even now we live into the resurrecting power granted to Christ’s body. Alleluia!
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity. To learn more, continue visiting our website.
* JESUS MAFA. Easter – Christ appears to Mary, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48389 [retrieved April 21, 2014].
** Angelico, fra, ca. 1400-1455. Christus Victor, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=47768 [retrieved April 21, 2014]. Original source: http://www.yorckproject.de.
My joy is to see followers of Christ actively engaged in using their gifts, and blazing trails in effectively reaching the world with the transforming power of the gospel. As a servant leader of Christ’s church, I want to do for others what my leaders and mentors did for me: facilitate that transformational connection between life on the ground and scripture/theology.
I see the Christian faith as a journey, a way of life. Many people can affirm that “church” is the people, not the building, but were that to become a reality in how we actually function, the church would be transformed. I’m fond of using the designation “follower of Christ.” As I read the gospels, the essence of the call of Jesus is action: going, sending, doing.