Once the chocolate bunnies are eaten, and the eggs have all been found, and the Easter grass from the baskets is finally no longer dangling in the most absurd of places…….what happens next?
The claim today is that Jesus lives. Really? After the church takes the time to make certain we tell the story of Jesus’ death not once, but twice, in this past week---now we are supposed to believe that Jesus lives? Really?
And, okay, let’s say I fall for that. That I am willing to set aside all logic and reason and enter the mystery and buy the story that Jesus rises from the dead, that life comes from death………and now what? What’s the point? How does believing resurrection make any difference in my life, in your life, in this world?
Well, friends, I hate to tell you this, but I don’t think believing in resurrection is just about getting into heaven. The God of Holy Scripture, the one who forgives the criminals on the cross, who forgives the ones who nail Jesus’ hands to the tree, the God who runs out to meet us after we have disowned him, who leaves 99 to find the wandering and lost one, the God who restores our sight and who heals us so we can walk again after we have crippled ourselves through self-centered choices and greedy decisions, this God of Holy Scripture does not seem very intent on creating a party list to decide who is in and who is out. Instead, this God seems insistent on inviting every last one of us to the banquet---even the one who takes his thirty pieces of silver and betrays with a kiss.
What does it mean then? Why make certain we hear of Jesus’ death if we are only going to be asked to believe that Jesus lives? How do we know Jesus lives? Why would any sane and reasonable person be willing to believe in, to practice, resurrection?
Beloved, God gives us Jesus, this parable of a human life that is meant to help us understand our own lives, so that we can believe that the deaths we face everyday do not have the final word. God gives us resurrection so that we can trust that the tombs of greed, of war, of hatred, the graves of bigotry, of poverty and of indifference DO NOT GET TO HAVE THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY IN OUR LIVES. The stones can be rolled away from these death traps.
Because Jesus lives.
When we refuse to move from fear and anger, Jesus lives.
When we create, vote for, and sustain systems that insure everyone has food, shelter, healthcare, and clean water, systems and laws that recognize every person is equally worthy of having enough: Jesus lives.
When we choose to put an end to violence and vengeance as the cross teaches us, instead of responding with humanity’s sense of justice and move instead from God’s justice of mercy and forgiveness, Jesus lives.
When we recognize that this fragile earth, our island home, isn’t here to serve us but we are here to serve, to tend to and protect her and all the treasures of this Creation, Jesus lives.
When we demand that black lives matter, yes all lives matter, but we know that some lives are privileged and others are not and Jesus has shown us that we are to cross the boundaries and be mindful of and seek to strengthen the status of those who are de-priviliged and weakened and held as less valuable by societal structures, laws, and prison systems, so when we demand that black lives matter, Jesus lives.
When we go to the border and meet the refugee and immigrant with food and water, shelter and healthcare because as we look across the barbed wire we do not see a threat to our own prosperity, but we see a sibling who is created in the same likeness in which we are created, the image of God, when we build a longer table rather than erecting a higher wall, then Jesus lives.
This isn’t political; this isn’t about being republican or democrat, this isn’t about being American or patriotic. This is Gospel. This is about our primary citizenship as members of God’s Kingdom.
So when we stop hoarding, out of fear that somehow we are not going to have enough or we are not going to have as much (preferably more) as our neighbor, and we quit allowing our possessions to possess us, and we look up from our screens and see beloved siblings instead of simply seeing someone else who has something I want or think I need or someone else who got better than me or someone else who has an advantage or comfort that I don’t have, when we look up and out and recognize that we are one thread in this beautiful tapestry of Creation and we actually need all these other threads---even the wonky, crooked, funky-colored ones, then Jesus lives.
When we remove ourselves from the center and put God back on the throne of our hearts and at the center of our lives, Jesus lives. Because then we see differently, hear differently, understand differently. We are atoned---brought back into alignment with God and with one another---made whole and well, even if our bodies and minds still have cracks and dis-ease and dis-comfort. And Jesus lives.
Beloved, we are the Living Body of Christ in the world. Christ has no other hands and feet but ours. We are the beating heart of the One who redeems, the one who saves, the One who lives. Beloved, practice resurrection. Show the world that Jesus lives.a
Jane Johnson is the pastor and priest of the Beloved Community of Intercession Episcopal and Redeemer Lutheran.