Sunday, April 20, 2014

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

By Donald Sensing


The two most profound events in the Bible are Christmas and Easter, the birth and resurrection of Christ. I find it odd that we have so much made them child centered, and use childish rituals to celebrate them. I think it is the way adults avoid facing the soul-shattering seriousness of them. M. Craig Barnes, pastor of National Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., wrote, 
We think of Easter as a time for bunnies and little chicks, colorful eggs, and little girls in cute new dresses. But we ought to be thinking about grown women, with their dresses hiked up to their knees, running with terror out of a cemetery. . . . Easter is not about renewal, [not about] new beginnings, [not about] the perseverance of the human spirit... .
... and it is certainly not about daffodils pushing blooms up through the soil or chicks hatching from eggs! None of that sentimental drivel can comfort the next of kin of the Terror War dead or the Syrian Christians being killed or exiled at the hands of al Qaeda. 
 
What Easter is, is that “Christ has died, Christ has risen.” Jesus’ resurrection means that the worst thing that happens to us is not the last thing that happens to us. Christ’s resurrection reveals that we do not die, “period”; we die, “comma.” On Easter God turns pain to power; God transforms tragedy to triumph and pushes through crucifixion to resurrection.
  
If Christian faith is about nothing but the here and now, then the Apostle Paul admits it isn't worth the time we spend on it. That is why the cross and the empty tomb stand at the center of our relationship with God and one another. On the cross is where the proclamation that Jesus was “God with us,” was made completely true, for Jesus died as we do. Easter's empty tomb beckons us to trust in a gracious God who provides throughout both our life and our death. 
   
Yet our deepest horror is not death itself, said philosopher John Locke. It is “perpetual perishing” - the fact that nothing lasts. Everything we are and all we love fade alike into nothingness. As Ecclesiastes mourns, “The dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten” (Eccl 9:5b). The destruction of even the memory of the past is perpetual perishing. 
   
The apostle Paul was under no illusions about the facts of human life. He observed in Romans that human beings "are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” But Paul denied that human destiny is to disappear into nothingness. No matter what happens in our lives, Paul knew one thing is certain: 
Neither death, nor life, ... nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
You can bet your life on it!


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