Alleluia! He is risen! The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, Easter is “an annual Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, held on the first Sunday after the date of the first full moon that occurs on or after March 21.”
The Catechism of our Book of Common Prayer asks the question, “What is the significance of Jesus’ resurrection?” The answer given is “By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life.”
On the day itself, we pray, “O God, who for our redemption gave your only begotten son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our
Lord, who lives with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.”
All of this is well and good, theologically and liturgically correct. But, of course, the above does not come even close to expressing the ineffable joy offered to us by God in this holy season. From the kindling of the paschal fire in the predawn hours to the final shouts of “Alleluia”, we are embraced by the realization given through faith that the stone has been rolled away and the tomb stands empty. No longer is death our final destination. Yes, we are mortal. But by Christ, and in Christ, and through Christ, we too will experience death, not as the end, but as a gate that opens into larger life.
In the meantime, we live as an Easter people. Even in the midst of all that is diminished and corrupted in this present age, we live according to God’s great promise revealed in His Son. Even as the world obsesses over all the bad news, we proclaim the Gospel: In the darkness, there is light. In the despair, there is hope. In the anger, discrimination, and hatred, there is love and that love will never fail or be overcome. Why? Jesus Christ lives. Christ lives here in our world. Christ lives within each one of us. Christ is now the way, the truth, and life. And when the moment is right, Christ will come again.
Eternal life burst out of the tomb in the resurrected life of Jesus Christ on that first Easter day. Every day now holds the Gospel’s promise. That is a promise well worth celebrating, my sisters and brothers. I look forward to celebrating this new reality with you in the weeks ahead. Welcome, Easter!
Faithfully in Christ,
The Rev. Rob Banse