Wednesday, April 27, 2011

This Joyful Eastertide: Living as an Easter People

This post has been a long time coming, partially because I've been struggling to live on the other side of the cross: the resurrection. In his Easter sermon, my pastor, Scott, talked about how he somehow felt it wasn't quite Easter. With American wars continuing, the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the plight of America's poor in the hands of politicking budget-makers, he just had a hard time celebrating. Scott said he and his wife, Lin, felt the same way on the Easter after their daughter passed away. He concluded, "Easter is about letting go of Good Friday and taking a chance on life. And Easter is hard."

Last Sunday morning, I felt like Scott was speaking directly to me. I only feel that way once or twice in a year, but isn't it great when you feel the sermon was crafted just for you?

Anyway, I've been feeling rather un-Easterly lately. It seemed strange to sing of life in the face of death, destruction, and threat of disaster (even if the disaster may not happen to me). My spiritual outlook is stuck in a space best described in a hymn Carl Daw wrote in response to 9/11:
When sudden terror tears apart
the world we thought was ours,
we find how fragile strength can be,
how limited our powers.

From this abyss of doubt and fear
we grope for words to pray,
and hear our stammering tongues embrace
a timeless Kyrie.
But as Scott pointed out so well, we sing Easter songs on Easter whether we feel like it or not. We cannot allow the griefs of this world to keep us from celebrating the life springing anew in Christ that surrounds us. As an Easter people, we sing instead:

This joyful Eastertide,
away with care and sorrow!
My Love, the Crucified,
hath sprung to life this morrow.

Had Christ, that once was slain,
ne'er burst his three-day prison,
our faith had been in vain;
but now is Christ arisen,
arisen, arisen, arisen.
Living as people filled with Christ's life and love can be a challenge when the outlook looks grim. Scott is right- it's not healthy to spend our lives brooding on our losses and trials. For a worrier like me, that can be a tall order. This is where faith comes in.

On my scowly days, it's an act of faith to live with the hope of Christ's resurrection in view. I feel like I'm still in the dark, but the spiritual reality is that a new day has dawned in the world- Jesus lives! It's hard to behave like I believe in the resurrection when I don't feel it on the inside. But that's part of what it means to have faith. As the early Christians realized, our behavior shapes our inner selves, so I'd better act like I know Jesus is alive. When I do that, I take another step on my journey toward God... and I trust the Holy Spirit to bring me the rest of the way.

Do you ever have a difficult time living into the Good News of Jesus' resurrection? What do you do on your bad days to stay connected with God?

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