Sunday, March 23, 2008

"If it's true..."

Jesus Christ our Savior, you have delivered us from sin and death. You have brought with the dawn of this day a new beginning and an empty tomb; grant us strength and humility, love and courage, hospitality and faithfulness, wisdom and compassion, mercy and grace, to enter into life, and to welcome into the new life in Christ the stranger we meet who becomes our brother, the foreigner who becomes our kinsman, the enemy who becomes our friend, the opponent who becomes our teacher, the sorrowful who becomes a well-spring of joy: all the fruits of the Spirit we anticipate may we receive with abundance of grace, through your transforming love. Amen.

If the Resurrection is true, Jesus is true: he is indeed the Son of God, the Savior, the one in whom the fullness of God is pleased to dwell, our best hope of seeing the mind of God and therefore the meaning of the universe; and to know him is to have a relationship with him, not an intellectual proposition to demand our assent, but a living Lord to call for our obedience.

If it’s true that Christ is risen, evil has been vanquished. No longer can the powers of this world – Pilate, Temple guard, the coterie of power brokers – none of them hold sway after all. The real power is in God’s hands, the hands of a Savior.

If it’s true that Christ is risen, the gates of death have been shattered, torn from their hinges – he has walked freely through them. Beyond death there is life, new life in Christ. Baptism, the immersion into the waters of mortality and re-emergence into life, shows us that as we die to sin, we are raised to new life in Him.

If Christ is raised, life means something beyond itself. Our petty purposes and grand schemes, the bumps and slingshot wounds of daily life, the deep disappointments of tragic news and wearing sorrow, come around the compass to a new bearing: the compass-needle of our lives now points beyond ourselves; our true direction is found in Christ.

If it is true that Christ is risen, then Jesus is alive – now. You can get to know him – in the breaking of the bread, the sharing of the cup, the anointing, baptism, prayers and peace; you can get to know him through friend and stranger: his image is all around you.

If it is true that Christ is risen, he is offering us a friendship of transformative power: both stern teacher and careful shepherd, he guides us through the painful metamorphosis of our lives into a new life of sacramental meaning and purpose.

If Christ is risen indeed, then we are right to believe in LIFE against DEATH, a revelation of life that is the opposite of the obsessive vision of death and violence so often purveyed in our worldly world, as if it were the end of the story.

If Christ is risen, then the limits are off. If Christ is risen indeed, LIFE is possible – we can do anything through the One who strengthens us.

If Christ is risen, the life of the world – politics, science, art and music, all of it – matters; it is redeemed, it is transformed, it has value and purpose and honor because God has given life value and purpose and honor through the resurrection of his Son.

If it’s true that Christ is risen, then justice is a given. It is going to happen. And how can we do less than work for justice, when God has given his own Son that we might be free?

For by raising his Son from the dead, God has given all of us new life. God sent his Son into the world – bringing his justice indeed – not to bring it condemnation but to redeem it, not to render it meaningless but to give it meaning. For God gave his Son so that who ever put his trust in Him would not perish – would not be sent down to death and shadow – but would be brought into the light and life and love and laughter and joy of the day that dawns today, the new life in Christ that we celebrate on Easter morning. Death no longer can claim the last word; beyond death is the triumph of the Son of the living God: life everlasting, flowing as a river, in the presence of the Son of the living God.

And we are called to enter the new life in Christ now, today, as we speak, on Easter morning: Christ is alive!

And this present moment is the moment of freedom: we define ourselves as we choose life; we define ourselves as his people, children of the day. We live no longer in darkness, no longer subject to the powers of sin, but in the full light and joy of the Day of the Lord.

This is the Day that the Lord has made – the day when behold! He has made all things new – let us enter into that new day, and the work and the play and the love and the laughter, the burden of sorrow shifted onto the broad shoulders that carried the Cross, the joy of his emerging Kingdom present & effervescent in our hearts and in our lives – this is the Lord’s Day; indeed He is risen: Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Amen.


Easter Day
Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 31:1-6
Psalm: Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24
New Testament Reading: Acts 10:34-43
Gospel: Matthew 28:1-10

A New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 592-3
John Pritchard, Living Easter Through the Year (SPCK, 2005) p. 33-36.


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