Easter is now!

by Joan Fanshawe
[with thanks to Jim Friedrich for some inspiration:  jimfriedrich.com]

(Referencing John 20:1-8; Acts 10:34-43)

We have come through a very interesting Lent season – each week meeting a different character involved in the last days of Jesus’s life and ministry before the crucifixion. We’ve heard the bluster and excuses, the ‘official speak’, self-justification, the contempt – but also questions, fear, regrets and sorrow.

Some of these narratives hit home to us in our own lives. These human behaviour traits are surprisingly little changed and still very much experienced in lives today. It’s been very real and often quite moving. We have been immersed in the Easter story in a new way.

Today – Easter Day – we are picking up the excitement of the Resurrection.

I love this quote by the late Sebastian Moore, a well known Dominican monk: “The original disciples were shocked into bliss by the Resurrection – and they never recovered.”

If we’ve been moved by the accounts of those characters through Lent, how are we moved by the Resurrection? Shocked into bliss?

Not us – we’re Anglicans!

But are we changed at all? Are our Alleluias genuinely heartfelt?
Can our lives be transformed today – continual transformation, perhaps?

Easter isn’t something we remember. Easter is now, for people of the Way. Something we live and breathe. Ours is an Easter faith.
However, since it only occurs once a year, Easter Sunday is sometimes mistaken for a commemorative anniversary of a past event.
I’ve read that the earliest churches treated the ‘Paschal mystery’ of Christ’s death and resurrection as the timeless (or timely) subject of every eucharistic liturgy. The establishment of an annual observance of ‘Easter Day’ was a later development.

The Resurrection, although breaking into history on a specific occasion, is not the property of the past. As God’s future, showing itself in our present, it belongs to all times and seasons. Jesus is alive, still showing up as a transforming presence in a world that feels filled with absences. Jesus is not over, and his story is not over.

The central question of the resurrection is not about belief, however – as in, what did happen to Jesus way back then? But, rather – where is Jesus now – for us? We need to allow the resurrection to question us – who are we now – in this time and this place – in the light of the risen Christ? An Easter faith affirms the continuing presence of the living Christ among us, now and always.

That presence is not always clear or obvious. Even the saints wrestle with doubt and absence. Sometimes our awareness of God seems to withdraw for a time. Sometimes it is we who are absent — distracted, inattentive, looking in the wrong place, using the wrong language. Divine presence can’t be switched on, or grasped possessively. It is elusive. And it is fond of surprise.

But we are not left without clues. Jesus tells us, “If you want to keep experiencing me, love one another. Forgive one another.” That’s where we meet the risen Christ – in the life of forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, justice, love. Where love and charity abound, there God is, there Christ is. It’s not enough to proclaim resurrection. We need to embody it.
As Rowan Williams (recent Archbishop of Canterbury) explains: “The believer’s life is a testimony to the risen-ness of Jesus: he or she demonstrates that Jesus is not dead by living a life in which Jesus is the never-failing source of affirmation, challenge, enrichment and enlargement.”

In John’s account of that resurrection morning, there’s lots of running. Lots of amazement! It feels so current!
We too must hasten (maybe not running!) to share the gift and the challenge of the resurrection – both in our lives in this community of faith, and in our own private selves.

Then may the whole world will one day see and know a church which has been shocked into bliss – and has never recovered!

Alleluia, Christ is risen; He is risen indeed.


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