Dear family of Faith,
During the month of May and about half of the month of June, we will be celebrating Easter—not as a day, but as a season. As I told the children on the second Sunday of Easter (April 28), we are EASTER PEOPLE. Or, to quote St. Augustine, “We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.” Alleluia, or Hallelujah, means “God be praised.” All through the seven Sundays of Easter, we will find many reasons to praise God for his love for us, so perfectly and so concretely expressed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
The Risen Lord Jesus shows up during the Easter season, embodying God’s love for us. Jesus speaks to Mary, who stood weeping near the empty tomb, and in speaking her name, Jesus turns her fear and sorrow into joyful evangelism as she runs to share the news with Jesus’ other disciples.
On the second Sunday of Easter, we heard again how Jesus demonstrates great love and concern for Thomas, who needed to see for himself the risen Lord and touch for himself the wounds Christ’s resurrected body still bore. And to all the disciples, who were fearful and uneasy as they pondered what to do after the crucifixion, Jesus offered a breath of peace and an empowering Spirit.
All through this joyful Easter season, we see God’s love embodied in the resurrection appearances of Jesus. Jesus feeds his disciples—literally!—a breakfast of grilled fish and bread, caring for their physical needs. And then, Jesus gives Simon Peter a chance to undo his three-fold denial of Jesus prior to the crucifixion with a three-fold call to feed and care for Jesus’ sheep. These are the sheep that Jesus knows—Jesus’ own, who hear his voice and whom no one can snatch out of Jesus’ hand.
During the Easter season, we return to the love command that Jesus gave in John 13—a command we last heard in worship on Maundy Thursday. Yet now, on the other side of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, this commandment takes on new meaning. To love others as Jesus has loved us is to be the way of life of Easter people, and through our loving care of others, we share God’s love with them. Loving one another is to be our witness and our way of life.
As the Easter season unfolds, we are reminded that, through Jesus’ love for us, we are invited into the love that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit share. As Jesus tells Judas, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them” (John 14:23). No longer alienated from God through our sin, we can participate in the risen life of Christ. Through the Holy Spirit, we are empowered to be Christ’s body here on earth.
The Easter Season culminates on the Day of Pentecost, when we remember and celebrate the coming of the promised Holy Spirit. We remember that Jesus himself promised to send the Holy Spirit as our “Advocate,” to come alongside us and help us as we embody God’s love in the world. And after Jesus returns to the Father, ascending into heaven, we are assured that God will continue to be with us through our Advocate the Holy Spirit.
During his days on earth, Jesus embodied God’s love for us in every act, in every word, in every sacrifice he made for us. And now we, his EASTER PEOPLE can embody God’s love in our acts and words and sacrifices. As we feed the hungry, as we nurture the young and care for the vulnerable, as we comfort those who are sick or sorrowing, we are living out our identity as EASTER PEOPLE and sending our Alleluias out into the world as a love song from God to humankind. God’s great love for us has empowered us to love!
Susan Palo Cherwien, in her hymn “Day of Arising,” expresses our mission well: “Christ, our companion, hope for the journey, bread of compassion, open our eyes. Grant us your vision, set all hearts burning that all creation with you may arise.” Let’s endeavor to make Easter not just a day, or even a season, but a way of life for us.
With joy in our Risen Lord Jesus,