Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter--Proclaiming Resurrection

As we think about the abundance of lectionary texts for this week, especially those for the Easter vigil and the festival services on Sunday, all of the texts point us to one thing: a proclamation of resurrection. Here is one form of that proclamation.

"The message of Jesus' resurrection is that this created world matters and that God has bridged the heavenly realm into this present world with healing life and all-conquering love...Resurrection is not about some comfortable afterlife, a great fairway in the sky, but about God having dealt with evil, and being now at work by God's own Spirit, to do for us and the whole world what God did for Jesus' body on that first Easter.

That is why we who celebrate do so with material things...We use bread and the fruit of the vine at the meal...We use candles and flowers and processions and banners and, above all, music; the world of creation has been reclaimed by the living God [and we] celebrate the fullness of life God gives us.

Christians believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, though...some are welcome not to believe it. But take that away, and Marx is probably right about Christian faith ignoring problems of the world. Take that away, and Freud is probably right that it is a wish-fulfillment religion. Take that away, and Nietzsche is probably right that Christianity is a religion for wimps. Put that back, and you have a faith that takes on the world today, with the Easter news that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

So we who celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ have an awesome responsibility. When we say 'Alleluia! Christ is risen!' we are saying that Jesus is Lord of the world, and that the present would-be lords are not."

From Sara Webb Phillips, "Serving the Word" in Homily Service, 40.5 (April 2007): 53. Sara Webb Phillips  is pastor of Brookhaven United Methodist Church in Atlanta, Georgia, and former editor of Homily Service.

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