Easter 2014

Hey all… I thought I’d … um… resurrect a 2013 post about the significance of the resurrection.  The original post was here, but enjoy…

What the resurrection means (at the very least)…

  1. That Jesus was/is the Christ, the Messiah
  2. That love really does win
  3. (Relatedly) That evil, death, and violence do not have the last word
  4. That doubt on Saturday is a part of life, but can give way to faith on Sunday
  5. That God is almost always unexpected
  6. That life with God is not just a resuscitated life, but a resurrected life—simultaneously a part of our current existence but radically reordered
  7. That wide-eyed wonder—and even a mild freak out—is a perfectly acceptable reaction to God’s work
  8. That I’m not “stuck” where I’m at; I can grow and change
  9. That God hasn’t abandoned humanity or this world
  10. Consequently, there is work to be done. Redemptive, resurrection work.
  11. That whenever I—or you—think “this is really all there is”, I’m wrong; that life and possibility can spring up in the deepest darkness

He’s alive, folks. Let’s dig in, drink up, and roll up our sleeves.

*e

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Living the Resurrection :: The Calling God

As I’ve written before, contrary how most of us experience Easter, it’s actually a season of the Church, and not merely a day. It’s not meant to be blown by and then remembered in the rear view mirror by its exhaustion (hello, church-workers), chocolate consumption (or Peeps), and communal meals.

Just as Lent prepares us to think about the Cross, Easter now prepares to live the Resurrection Life…

… The reason that it’s a season is that this not as easy as it seems.

So over the next few weeks, I’m going to offer some thoughts on “Living the Resurrection”, and maybe we can figure this out together.

….

In contemplating the empty tomb yesterday morning, I was struck by Jesus’ activities after he is raised.

Assuming that the resurrection was a pretty big deal in those (any?) days, did you ever wonder why Jesus doesn’t just set up shop in the tomb and wait for everyone to come and see him?

Instead, he hits the road.

Matthew tells us he goes up to “the mountain” (one of his favorite places in Matthew) to give some final instructions to the Twelve.

Luke tells us that he joins some disciples on the road to Emmaus, then shows up later at dinner.

John says he crashes a (really, really depressing) party that the disciples are having, and then later to Thomas, and eventually has a really important conversation with Peter before departing.

Paul tells us,

He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve, and then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at once—most of them are still alive to this day, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me, as if I was born at the wrong time. (1 Corinthians 15v5-8)

In other words, even after the Resurrection is still really busy. 

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says that one of the essential characteristics of God is that He pursues us:

This is the mysterious paradox of Biblical faith: God is pursuing man. It is as if God were unwilling to be alone, and He had chosen man to serve Him. Our seeking Him is not only man’s but also His concern, and must not be considered an exclusively human affair. His will is involved in our yearnings. All of human history as described in the Bible may be summarized in one phrase: God is in search of man.

Jesus—even after Easter—continues this tradition of the calling, seeking, pursuing God.

He is not content to only wait and allow people to seek Him out; He goes in search of folks.

… Of Mary, who loved Him but could not save him…

… Of the Twelve, who couldn’t stay awake with him or stay loyal to him…

… Of Thomas, who wasn’t even sure he believed he was really alive…

… Of Peter, who denied that he even knew him…

In other words, not only is Jesus on the move, searching people out, but the very folks who let Jesus down, who weren’t sure about him, who deserted him, who were helpless: those are who he goes to find. 

The Resurrected Christ is looking for you. No matter what you’ve done, no matter what you “lack”, no matter how you think you may have betrayed him, he is still seeking you. He’s not afraid of you. He’s not ashamed of you. He’s not embarrassed.

So maybe this Easter, stop running. Or just slow down.

*e

Eleven Things About Resurrection

What the resurrection means (at the very least)…

  1. That Jesus was/is the Christ, the Messiah
  2. That love really does win
  3. (Relatedly) That evil, death, and violence do not have the last word
  4. That doubt on Saturday is a part of life, but can give way to faith on Sunday
  5. That God is almost always unexpected
  6. That life with God is not just a resuscitated life, but a resurrected life—simultaneously a part of our current existence but radically reordered
  7. That wide-eyed wonder—and even a mild freak out—is a perfectly acceptable reaction to God’s work
  8. That I’m not “stuck” where I’m at; I can grow and change
  9. That God hasn’t abandoned humanity or this world
  10. Consequently, there is work to be done. Redemptive, resurrection work.
  11. That whenever I—or you—think “this is really all there is”, I’m wrong; that life and possibility can spring up in the deepest darkness

He’s alive, folks. Let’s dig in, drink up, and roll up our sleeves.

*e

===========================

Next…

So we finally reached Easter.

No, I mean… We finally reached Easter!!!!

So let me ask you: what’s gonna be different?

In my community, we walked through the 40 Days of Lent, carefully observing, contemplating, denying ourselves.

During Holy Week, we gathered each night to remember Jesus’ last days, and contemplated what it might mean for our lives, some 2,000 years later. Friday night we reflected through song, teaching, and then visually (through the Passion of the Christ) on his death. Friday night through Sunday we joined together in constant prayer, circling around the Stations of the Cross until, finally, we reached Sunday morning, with its empty tomb, the joyous release of energy from the community, and the celebration of the paradigm-shifting reality of the resurrection.

I think, now, we “get” (as much as possible) Lent a little better. We understand denial, understand a little of what it means to “take up our cross” and follow Jesus. This is a good thing.

But what happens next?

On the strength of some year-old conversations with some good friends, I’d like to suggest that in the same way that Lent helps us understand Jesus sacrifice on the cross, perhaps the Easter season could help us understand what it may mean to “live the resurrection,” and maybe the place to begin is through “engagement”.

If Lent is about denial, let’s let Easter be about engagement; where we ask ourself, “What do I need to deny myself?” Perhaps our question now becomes, “What resurrection activity do I need to engage in?”

To be brief, the resurrection has inaugurated, in some amazing, brilliant way, the reality of God’s kingdom now, on Earth. No need to wait on Revelation (oh but wait don’t get me started on that)! The empty tomb says that the best of what’s to come is possible now, and engagement says that we are (to borrow a phrase from NT Wright) “anticipating” this life-to-come now.

Examples? How about for these next 40 days, you…

  • Engage in service by finding a place to serve the “least of these”
  • Engage in slowing down by eliminating techno-clutter from your life at specific times
  • Engage in prayer by setting an alarm and praying a simple prayer (maybe the one Jesus taught us) four times a day
  • Engage in relational health by reaching out to a good friend for regular meals together

Don’t make it overwhelming; keep it simple. Just ask yourself, “What will life in the Kingdom look like?” and begin “practicing that life now.”

… Because, you know, the Resurrection isn’t only an event…

… It’s a lifestyle.

This Needs No Further Explanation

“The point about Jesus’ resurrection is not ‘He’s alive again, therefore there is a life after death,’… It’s not, ‘Jesus is alive again, therefore we’re all going to go to heaven,’ … The point about the resurrection is, ‘Jesus has been raised from the dead, therefore God’s new creation has begun, and therefore we have a job to do… We don’t need to worry (about our sin) any more… but you do need to work.” -NT Wright

Reflections on Catalyst 2009

I just got back from the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta; it was my first time attending the live event, though I’ve watched DVDs from the past 2 years. I thought I’d throw out a few reflections from the event.

  1. The Justification Wars Are Hot. Though speakers from different perspectives were there, any anticipated public denouncing or “zingers” didn’t occur. What didhappen, however were a few decidedly public shots into the debate on justification, most typically represented by NT Wright and John Piper. One speaker, in the middle of a talk about something else, decided to clarify the definition of the gospel as the appropriating of the righteousness of Jesus to cover our sins (this to many shouts of approval from the crowd). Note: curiously, this same speaker immediately used — as an example of this gospel — the story of Peter converting Cornelius in Acts 10:31-43 in which Peter never references the “atoning blood of Jesus”.

  2. Resurrection Isn’t So Hot. In all the talks, there was very little discussion of the mind-blowing event of resurrection. People are still more intrigued by Jesus’ death than they are the inauguration of the new age.
  3. Please Stop Shouting At Me. Nothing personal, but by the middle of the second day I really just wanted the music to be turned down, and wanted a speaker to whisper the love and beauty of God over me. We (those?) evangelicals really like it loud and pumping, both their music and their teaching. Curiously, never in two days did 12,000 leaders pray, read scripture, or recite a creed in one voice. We could hear each other sing, but I sat thinking how powerful it would be to recite the Lord’s Prayer, or the Nicene Creed, or a prayer of confession.

There were other, more personal revelations, but I think that from an observational standpoint, those were my takeaways.

meh.