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For the Week of April 21, 2014
by Rubel Shelly
You may be under the impression that Easter is over. Last Sunday was the day for big crowds at church and ham dinners at home. But there is much more to Easter than a Sunday celebration.
Easter declares what happened in history; Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. Easter invites the rest of us into new creation; the same power that raised Jesus heals our brokenness and empowers our righteousness. Easter bears witness to the world; the Spirit’s power is free to all who will receive it.
We can argue ourselves blue in the face about the historical event. There will still be people who say, “But all the tests and measures we know deny it.” There is no arguing, however, with joy and gentleness, kindness and patience, concern and generosity. Hearts yield to such gentle virtues.
To say it another way, the church is God’s embodied apologetic to the world. It announces and models new life.
The world needs to be made whole. By “made whole,” I simply mean that all of us want a better life, a sense of genuine peace, and courage to deal with painful realities. We have lots of technology and gadgets. We live longer and are generally healthier. But our hearts yearn for something more than 80 years, the Internet, hip replacements, and big-screen TV.
We want to be connected with people by mutual respect and concern. We all want to love and be loved. We want an authentically spiritual life. The Bible has a couple of words to describe it. In the Hebrew Bible, it is shalom; in the language of Jesus, it is eternal life.
We celebrated the fact and faith of Easter last Sunday. We told the story of a little band of Jesus’ followers who were, as one writer put it, “gathered at the place of impossibility, the tomb.” But the Holy Spirit moved, and he was alive again. The world has never been the same.
Now we live the reality of resurrection. Jesus did not triumph over death so the church could have a doctrinal tenet to declare. He defeated death for the sake of the human race in its hopelessness and despair.
With Easter past, you are part of God’s purpose to put hope on display. And that is a lifestyle issue, not a single day on a calendar.