He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
I’m quite disappointed that I was only able to have the above interaction with my husband this morning. I love being ready to greet people on Easter Sunday, either bonding over great church tradition or confusing the crap out of them. I hope you all are having a wonderful Easter weekend. I’ve spent mine inside watching Beulah’s online services, working, and re-playing Overcooked 2 on Xbox. We also swung by my in-laws to pick up some dinner my mother-in-law prepared for us. Once we got home and warmed up the food, we gave them and Drayton’s sister a call for a Zoom Easter dinner.
It’s a weird time to be at home. Easter is most definitely my favourite Sunday to gather as a church. It’s the day we celebrate Jesus’ triumph over death when it was proved that Jesus is who He says He is and that He will accomplish what He has promised to us.
Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
Matthew 28:5-6 (NIV)
Jesus triumphed over death. Therefore, we no longer need to fear, for we have an assurance that just as Jesus was resurrected, we will be raised as believers.
The day that Jesus rose from the dead changed everything. As I wrote about in my previous post on this blog, through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus fostered in the New Covenant, which reconciled us to God. Should we recognize that Jesus is Lord and surrender our lives to God, we will be saved and will take part in this new age, He has brought about. What happened on this day 2000 years ago was monumental. Monumental doesn’t even describe it. I tried to look in my thesaurus to find a better word, but nothing really takes the cake. I’ll just say that it is the single most important day for those who are followers of Jesus.
I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention to the news. I mean, I know you all know what is going on in general, but you may not be paying close attention. I’ve stopped listening to my daily news podcast and have logged out of Facebook to stop the intense flow of fear and facts into my ears. It’s anxiety-inducing. I just make sure I’m tuning into the Alberta and Canada addresses we get every so often and taking a peek at the AHS website. One story that was able to slip through the cracks today, though, was CBC’s article on Pope Francis and his message given to the world.
I don’t keep tabs on Papa Francisco. Although, I did have a mini-calendar with pictures of him in my highschool locker (a gift). Anyways, his address this morning at the Vatican was interesting, to say the least. The humongous church and its many halls were empty apart from a few clergy members six-feet apart from one another. It was a pretty wild sight. The various rituals and traditions were modified, and the choir stood spaced-out on the risers. The Pope did not come out to give his usual public address out to the thousands who usually take up the square in front of the church. Instead, the area was blocked off, and he spoke on camera. His yearly Urbi et Orbi (To the Church and the World) is a pretty big deal apparently. This is the first one I’ve paid attention to. “He urged the faithful to pray for the sick, the dead and the elderly confined alone. And broadening his horizons, he called for sanctions relief, debt forgiveness and ceasefires to calm conflicts and financial crises around the globe.” (CBC) On top of this, he calls COVID-19 an epochal challenge, meaning this difficult time will bring about a new age in a momentous way.
Epochal is actually a great way to describe what the resurrection of Jesus is to the church. It’s about as epoch as epochs get. When Jesus triumphed over death, it brought about a new way of life. I’m sure you’ve already been asking yourself what changes will come post-Rona. How will our lives be different? Will there be more online classes (please)? Will I no longer have to commute to work ‘cause I could just Zoom in (PLEASE)? What will change about how we treat one another and how we pursue friendships? What will change about how we serve God? There has been a lot of talk lately about what this time apart from meeting as a congregation will mean for the believer. I wonder if these few months apart will be a “make it or break it” time for all of us.
God hasn’t called us to be luke-warm Christians. He hasn’t called us to be consumers. There are times, most-definitely, where I allow myself to just go with the flow. Especially when I’m not only attending and volunteering at Beulah but also working for the young adult ministry and attending Bible school. I allow myself just to take and take. Have my pastors prompt me to pray, and my professors assign scripture reading. I don’t take my faith into my own hands. In this time, however, I’ve been woken up to just how lacking my initiative was to pursue Jesus for myself. I had become luke-warm.
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are luke-warm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
In some way, could there be a gift in this COVID crisis? A chance to ask ourselves: where does my relationship with God stand? Am I in or am I out?
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 3:15
Where is my heart in this? Am I following Jesus, or am I just following others’ actions as they pursue the Lord?
These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.
As I worship God and I serve his people, am I doing this for his glory or mine? Now that I’m home has my need to “perform” disappeared when no one is watching?
Jesus, speaking of the religious leaders: “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’”
Matthew 23:5-7 (NLT)
How about if there is nothing going on at all? Is there no deepening of the relationship between God and I, therefore, a lack of fruit in my life?
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:4-5 (NIV)
Today as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, an epoch in history (I hope I used the word correctly), let us respond to God’s redemptive story with fervour. As we continue to hide away in our homes in this pandemic, let us allow this time to be filled with a deep pursuit of Jesus, taking responsibility of our relationship with Him. Let it be an epoch in our faith journeys, a time when we examined ourselves and decided to no longer be luke-warm. Let us be on fire for God.