Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Resurrection Difference

April 19-20, 2014 –– EASTER VIGIL / EASTER SUNDAY
The Resurrection Difference

The Lord is risen, Alleluia! He is risen, indeed!
Praised be Jesus Christ––now and forever!

Every Sunday is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection. This is the foundation of Christian Faith. Yet Easter itself is the pinnacle. There is no higher or greater celebration in the Church. It is right and good to come to worship on this high and holy Feast.

Each week we confess our Faith. Usually it’s in the words of the Creed: He.... rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. But who really gives the Scriptures a lot of thought in our high-tech, information-saturated and fast-paced culture? The truth is that too many of us actually believe that religious faith is peripheral. We probably would not say that outright, but the way we live shows what we really believe. For too many, church is an add-on––something to do on a special occasion or when it’s convenient (with nothing else “more important” demanding our time). How is your life different because Jesus has been raised from the dead?

The Faith of the Church is that Jesus is alive! The Son of God who died a horrible death on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven came back from the dead. Jesus is alive! The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything about the way we understand our world and live in it. St Paul tells the Colossians: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (3:1–2). The resurrection changes the nature of death. It changes the course of human history. It changes the meaning of life. It changes human values. The resurrection means that God’s promise of a new world has already been set in motion. What we see in this world––and what we’re tempted to make the most important things in our lives––is on its way out.  A new way of life based on resurrection is on its way in.

A wonderful illustration of this is in the first Narnia story by C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In that story, Aslan the lion (who is a Christ figure) dies for the treacherous Edmund, but then comes back to life. Explaining it to Edmund's sisters, Susan and Lucy, Aslan says, "....when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, ....Death itself would start working backwards." This is a great way to understand our Faith: death itself working backwards. That is what Christians believe.

We need to renew our faith again and again. We live in a world that inundates us with lies, telling us that possessions and pleasure are the most important things. We come to church, yes, to honor and worship our Lord, but we do that best when we are pulled into the reality of what Jesus has done for us: Christ died for our sins and is risen to give us new life.

At Friday’s Celebration of the Passion of the Lord it was my privilege to bring the Blessed Sacrament back from the place of repose. As I walked to the sanctuary carrying the ciborium I was aware of the incredible Mystery: the Jesus who died on that Friday so long ago is alive. In a way that goes beyond our understanding, he is here with us in the Eucharist, and he indwells every person who is born of the Spirit. How often do you stop and think, The risen Son of God lives in me!?

One way to look at this is with a simple question: If it could be proven that the resurrection was a hoax––no resurrection, how would your life be different than it is now? Are you living in the reality that Jesus is alive!? Maybe some of you need to invite him in a fresh way to live his life in yours. Christians are people who are different because Jesus is alive.

So, I ask again: How is your life different because Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead?

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