The wonderful seasons of Easter and spring are with us once again as we anticipate warmer weather, outdoor activities, longer days, gardening and enjoying spring.
The resurrection is at the centre of our Christian faith, in the confidence of eternal life offered in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Easter is not a one-time event that took place many years ago, nor is it just an annual celebration. We are the resurrection community and our lives in the risen Christ mean new beginnings, hope for those who once had none, hope for those who are ostracized, marginalized or excluded. Life is no longer the same. In the words of the chorus of that wonderful song by the Gaithers:
“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone,
Because I know, I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.”
The resurrection of Jesus Christ led to the birth of the Christian Church. We see a group of men, disciples of Christ, who were once afraid, dispirited and uncertain about their future become transformed and filled with the Spirit, boldly witnessing to their experience of their risen Lord and Savior. They became empowered and were willing to do anything in His name. They faced their future with confidence and courage because He lives. They began a powerful movement, “the Jesus Movement,” and set in motion a mighty force that has changed and continues to change the lives of many around the world.
We believe that in Christ, death, oppression, injustice, fear and evil have been overcome and therefore Love conquers and will always win. The spirit of the living God is and will always be available to the Church. God is at work in the world in the name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit. By our willingness to join God in God’s mission, we come to experience the love, mercy, compassion and goodness of God.
In a time when many are skeptical about the validity of institutions and their “norms,” including religion, there is seemingly a lot of rage in our communities, and the Church has a gospel to proclaim and live out. Amid skepticism and even cynicism, we can share the good news of what God is up to in our communities. We can become so despondent and hopeless in the face of adversity, tragedy and wrong doing that at times we do not notice the good that is taking place around us.
Remember the words of the song, “Because He lives I can face tomorrow.” The resurrection means that there is nothing that we cannot face in the future. Life that the risen Christ offers is refreshing, life-giving, healing, inclusive and redemptive. We have been given new life in Christ. We are given second chances; broken relationships can be restored. We need no longer be imprisoned by jealousy, hatred, pride, envy, selfishness and human indifference. Our communities and places of worship must now be open to welcoming others, especially those who do not look like us or share the same faith, political philosophy or ethnicity. We are called by our Christian vocations to be agents of change.
Archbishop Michael Curry often speaks about the Christ “who came among us to transform the world from the nightmare it often is, into the dream God has.” The Church must always provide room and welcome all, irrespective of their perspective or understanding of God. Paul understood this when he wrote to the Galatians: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” 3:28. One of the great challenges of our times is how can we be more inclusive in our nation, provinces, communities, organizations and churches.
The ability to live in community with many different views to life, politics and religions, is both a challenge and a rich gift. Our communities continue to become very diverse. We do not all need to think and speak alike. God has wonderfully made us for God’s self and each other. When we are unable to be respectful of those who are different from us, life can become very difficult and intolerable. That is why we hold to the belief and understanding that ultimately it is the love of God which seeks to save our world, as found in John 3:16.
Let us embrace God’s love and work together in providing for harmony and co-existence as God’s beloved. As believers of the resurrection community, may we by our living model what we promise in our Baptismal Covenant, “to respect the dignity of every human being.”
We, the people of God, can point the way forward that reveals the unity that we are given, and can celebrate the strength that we can bring each other and others. We can provide the example of how we can love those who differ from us and give attention to improving our brokenness. The resurrection means the setting free of all that once imprisoned us and living in the hope and comfort that “because He lives I can face tomorrow.” The Christian witness we carry out is in the Name of our Loving, Liberating and Life-giving God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.