Easter. The Risen Christ. This event happened 2,000 years ago, but does it make a difference today? Has the world changed? Am I changed because of it?
Jesus died, and God gave him life again. To the disciples, and to his followers, it would have seemed like Jesus failed, at least until his resurrection. Jesus stood for everything good, he did wonderous things, and the power of God was with him. He was killed because of who he was, and what he did. His mission in life had failed, or at least that’s how it appeared.
But then, like wildfire, it caught on and spread. People who knew him, and followed him, became re-energized, and re-committed. The Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Spirit, became a reality in the life of his friends, and it has remained a reality in the life of every follower ever since. Jesus’ spirit multiplied exponentially.
What the disciples and the world thought was a failure, was actually the magnificent start to a new beginning. God’s actions made things never the same, ever again.
We still experience failure. We see God’s good world full of hope and beauty, and the promise of new life, but we also see the effects of violence wherever we turn. We see the atrocities in Syria and kidnapping of girls in Nigeria. According to the Emergency Aid Coordinator of the UN, 20 million people in S. Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Nigeria will soon face starvation and famine unless there is a massive coordinated response by the rest of the world. School shootings in the US continue, and big challenges exist in protective services, health care, and affordable housing here at home. We haven’t come close to achieving Jesus’ vision of God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Where is the Resurrection in all of this?
It’s here. It hasn’t swept the countryside yet, like we would hope. We are surrounded by a culture that encourages consumerism, that sends the message every day that we are ‘not enough’ unless we buy something. We live in a culture that fosters fear and encourages violence as the solution to that fear. We haven’t achieved racial or gender equality, (even though we’d like to think we have), and the poor and homeless still live among us. Where is the Kingdom Jesus started?
Again, it is here. In the individual and communal actions of people of faith, (and those without belief), who are good hearted. In people who stand for Black Lives Matter, for gender equality, for rights of the vulnerable, and in those who try to make life a little easier or better, for someone else. In those who help their neighbor, and in those who care for others. In families, and in individuals who do the best they can in difficult circumstances.
When Jesus died, the problems of societies continued. But now, we can clearly see what fits with the Gospel message, and what doesn’t. We don’t need to be taken in by ways that lead to death of the spirit or body, because we know the Way that leads to real life.
Just as importantly, we also know that it isn’t all up to us. Like Jesus, we, his followers need to do what we are called to do, but the world doesn’t rest on our shoulders. The God who raised Jesus works with what we have to offer. Stand back. Jesus’ Spirit is here!