Friday, March 15, 2013

"The Great Easter Truth"

from the Easter 2013 "Saints Alive" Newsletter of All Saints Church in Pasadena | by the Reverend Susan Russell, Senior Associate for Communication, Incorporation and Inclusion

The words came to me in an Easter card I received now over twenty years ago: "The great Easter truth is not that we will be born again someday -- but that we are to be alive here and now by the power of the resurrection.” And they resulted in what Ed Bacon would call “an epiph.” An “aha!” A moment of deep knowing in the core of my being that these words were true – that they were talking to me – and that I was going to be changed by them.

And what those words continue to say to me – all these years later -- is that the great Easter truth we celebrate doesn’t end when the Easter lilies wilt and the Alleluias fade. What they say to me is that the great Easter truth enables us to be alive – here and now – each and every day – claiming the power of the resurrection – often in very unexpected ways. The great Easter truth is that the great gospel stories of Easter Season tell us again and again that the Risen Lord isn’t always announced with alleluias and Easter lilies. In fact, they will tell us exactly the opposite.

Mary Magdalene, the first to encounter Jesus in the garden at first thought he was the gardener – until he spoke her name. Running to tell the other disciples they thought she was hallucinating – until he appeared to them in the upper room. Thomas, out of the room when Jesus showed up, thought they had ALL gone over the edge – until Jesus showed up again and said, “Here, Thomas – if what you need to believe is to see my hands and my side then check it out.” Over and over we hear the stories of those who had resurrection right in front of them and they couldn’t see it. Not because they lacked faith -- but because they lacked the vision to see the unexpected right before their eyes.

The great Easter truth is that resurrection was not a one-size-fits-all experience for the disciples. If it had been, we would have fewer resurrection narratives in scripture – and fewer clueless disciples in the narratives! And yet I believe that in these stories of first century Christians there are truths that speak in a very particular way as we continue to build a 21st century church that isn’t “one-size-fits-all” either — as we continue to claim our legacy as a community of faith where whoever you are and wherever you find yourself on your journey of faith you are welcome here!

For it is in that community – in communion with God and with each other – that we are given the grace to recognize the resurrection that so very often doesn’t look at all like we expected it to. The Good News we have to share – the lived experience we testify to – is about exercising diverse and prophetic ministries in every part of this broken world: working to end gun violence, fostering a culture of nonviolence, championing economic justice, dancing to end global violence against women, demonstrating to achieve marriage equality, offering comfort in food offered to a hungry neighbor and knitting a prayer shawl given to a grieving mother.

Around the world and around the corner we have Good News to tell – resurrection to proclaim – work to do. Being alive here and now — by the power of the resurrection — is who we are at All Saints Church. And it is that Easter Truth that empowers us to make a difference not just someday but everyday – as we work together to make God’s love tangible 24/7. Alleluia, Alleluia!

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