Today is Easter Monday. Traditionally a day of celebration (and rest for pastors and church staff everywhere) that began in the 15th Century. Different Christian religious traditions celebrate this day in a variety of ways. In the 19th Century the Easter Parade tradition started in New York City, as well as the White House Easter Egg Roll. Then, in the 1930’s the jellybean became a favorite Easter candy. All of these well-known Easter traditions go along with the celebration of the Resurrection and serve as a reminder that Jesus remained on the earth for 40 days after he rose from the dead. Eastertide is a time of celebration. It reminds us that Jesus was raised from the dead and we will be, too. This is the great hope of our faith that has been affirmed for over 2000 years.
The Resurrection is the centerpiece of Christian faith and belief. But, after the Easter celebration, what practical difference does this make in our daily lives? What does it mean to live out of the hope of the resurrection every day?
First, we can live in peace. Jesus offers the peace that passes all understanding. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” (John 14: 27) He promises this peace at the Last Supper and reaffirms its reality when he appears to the disciples after his resurrection. They didn’t have to be anxious because Jesus was still with them. He is still with us.
Second, we can submit to God’s power. Another way of saying this is – we can admit we are powerless. There are many things in our lives we can control – like our choices – but we can’t control God. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts nor our ways God’s ways. (Isaiah 55: 8) However, God gives us the Holy Spirit to support and encourage us. This is a pure gift of love that will strengthen us.
Third, we can pay attention to God’s presence around us. God is working in the world every day. We can notice this presence if we look for it. Jesus promised he would be with us, always. His presence is here whether we are aware of it or not. There is something very reassuring about knowing that God is available. This doesn’t mean that everything is going to be magically “fixed”, but it does mean we are not alone.
The peace, power and presence of Jesus are promises he made to us before he died and after he was raised. These things help us in our life and ministry with and for others. These are the gifts of Easter given to us so that we can live in hope and offer hope to others. “He is Risen!” is the statement that reminds us we participate with God in challenging the power of death in all of its forms – socially, economically and politically. The Resurrection gives us courage to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God. Let’s live like Resurrection people, showing something of God’s great love to others through the witness of our lives as we work for reconciliation and restoration in the world.
I offer you this prayer for Eastertide:
Eternal God, in the face of all that frightens us, remind us of your sustaining strength that gives us courage. Remind us during this Eastertide that the stone is rolled away. The tomb is empty – we are resurrection people. Use us for your greater purposes in our community and world. Unite us in prayer and action that together we might make a difference in someone else’s life and by doing so, change our own. Break our world free from all that seeks to harm and destroy. Give us courage to carry your message of love out into the world as we work for justice. Help us to live as resurrection people. In the name of our risen Lord, we pray. Amen.
I hope you had a happy and joyous Easter!