By Shannon Youell
As we are moving through Holy Week towards the cross and the resurrection, I have begun to wonder at how we, followers of Christ, can often move through these days, get to the end of Sunday and then live our lives in the same way we were prior to Holy Week. How can this be? When the most glorious event in human history has occurred, how is it we observe it, celebrate it and then off we go again into our everyday lives?
I ponder it because it is exactly what the early Christians did not do. For them, something happened here that changed everyday life for them and continued to do so. Decades later Paul still writes of the cross and resurrection as the pivotal hinge in the world at the time.
We can often become so accustomed to the long game “…to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ,” that we miss the short game of already participating in the resurrection through Christ, “…(who) made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
The long game is, of course, that in the final end of the age, all things will be completely renewed, a new heaven and earth and new resurrected bodies finally restored to God’s beautiful plan for his creation and created. But in the age between the old and the new, we find ourselves often wondering what the resurrection means for us and how it must inform and shape how we live into the kingdom of God among us message Jesus spoke of in his ministry.
Tom Wright, in his commentary Matthew for Everyone, explains it this way: “And what God is doing is not just an extraordinary miracle, a display of supernatural power for its own sake, or a special favour to Jesus. What God is doing is starting something new, beginning the new world promised long ago, sending the disciples to Galilee in the first place, but then, as we shall see, on to the ends of the earth and the close of the age with the news of what has happened. A whole new world was opening up in front of them.”
When the old is gone and the new has come, how do we live that out as God’s ambassadors on earth? Jesus tells his disciples, “as the Father sent me, so I send you…” and then breathed on them.
Those first witnesses to the resurrected Christ not only understood fully that Jesus is indeed the Messiah—an incredible revelation indeed — but their actions were also changed in the process. Jesus reshaped their worldview of how to view “the other” and how to live as God’s children participating in the power of that same resurrection by telling the story over and over again and demonstrating and teaching others to live the kind of life that Jesus expounded on throughout his teaching ministry.
Which brings me to my pondering. In this time of identity politics and increasingly divisive polarities, how are our worldviews being reshaped by the Easter Story? Are they in a continual process of transformation towards increasingly loving God, his creation and his created and desiring to participate more fully in the power of resurrection that brings new life and hope into a world (including our ‘religious’ world) often lost in rhetoric, politics, power structures, oppressive and unjust behaviors and marginalization? We are people who love God, love Jesus, but not often truly love the other, defaulting to our own worldview rather than this gloriously resurrected view of the created world that God himself has – a people being transformed to be the fullness of humanity.
Those first witnesses were forever changed by the resurrection in ways that compelled them to engage differently with God, with one another and with others in the way of Jesus. It wasn’t easy as we see in Acts and in the letters, yet centuries later, the ever present Spirit of God with Us, continues to invite us to live and engage in the world as a people resurrected to God’s new and unfolding age so that others may know the power of the cross that defeated the power of evil and death and the Resurrection of Hope for all peoples.
My prayer is this Easter, this celebration, even in the midst of world crisis, we will all “know Christ and the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” God is at work making everything right again and we, as we allow our hearts, minds, souls and strength to be transformed by the liberty of the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit breathing life into us, are invited by the Great Commission of our Resurrected Lord, to join him in this very Good News.
Let us celebrate this victory this weekend and embody it deeper, fuller, with grace and mercy, in the days, weeks, years beyond.
He is risen indeed!