Easter People, listen! I tell you a mystery
Christ is Risen.
Christ is Risen.
This means everything has changed.
Every. Thing. Has. Changed.
The old rules don't apply. There are new rules. They are on our hearts. And they go something like this:
Do not be afraid. Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Do not be afraid. Make disciples (Jesus followers). Teach them to do all that I have commanded: Follow me. Do not be afraid. Love God and love neighbor. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Heal the sick. Follow me. Do not be afraid. Put away your sword. Take up the cross. Follow me. Do not be afraid. Visit the prisoner. Love your enemies. God will judge. I will judge. You--follow me. Do not be afraid. Pray. Sabbath. Do not worry about tomorrow. Do not store up treasures here. Forgive. Eat this bread and drink this cup and remember me. Follow me. Do not be afraid. Wash one another's feet. Give more than what is asked of you. Abide in my love. Follow me. Do not be afraid. Jesus is with us until the very end of the age.
Why are we afraid? I know that, of course, we get scared. I get scared. Scared of life without the people I love. Scared of the unknown parts of death. Scared of pain and suffering. Of course we get scared. And yet, I pray (not enough) to make decisions based not out of fear but out of love. We are supposedly people trying to live by these new rules but it can be so hard to see. How do we make disciples when WE are such poor disciples? I am sad that I often feel like our church identifies with Peter BEFORE the resurrection. But what about Peter after the Holy Mystery Christ? What would our world look like if all Christians tried every day to live as if the resurrection is true? Many of us DO clothe the naked and feed the sick. But I'm talking about the things Jesus and God ask of us throughout the Bible: Do not be afraid. Follow me.
Can we covenant to start putting fear aside? To make all of our decisions from a place that abides in the love of Christ and the hope of resurrection? Can we live like the Kingdom of God is a present reality?
I write this in frustration. The week here in the US has been one of dealing with violence (the bombings in Boston), making decisions against peace (the inability to pass stricter gun laws), and an unexpected explosion of a fertilizer plant in TX that killed and wounded many. And around the world, people are suffering from bombings every day and other natural disasters (I think I read about an earthquake). And I am struck with the fact that we are very violent and scared for a bunch of Christians. We are very afraid and we love our swords. We love to talk about safety and keeping people safe. But Jesus never talked about keeping people safe. He did talk about caring for people. But not about protecting and keeping them safe from harm. Because, well, we can't do that. Not really. We will all be harmed at some point. We will all be hurt. We will all suffer. We will all die. This doesn't mean we should not try to prevent suffering if we can. It definitely means we should not cause suffering. But we cannot prevent all suffering. Ever. Sometimes, we even just have 2 bad choices--both of which will cause suffering. That makes it hard to know how to act, doesn't it?
That's why I need you Church. I need you to help me be more like Jesus when I have bad choices all around. I need you to help me find a way where there is no way. I need you to pray with me. The only thing we can really do in the face of suffering is care for one another in the midst of suffering. And remind one another of our hope--that none of these things have the last word. Can anything separate us from God's love?
Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
We are being put to death all day long for your sake.
We are treated like sheep for slaughter.
But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created. (Romans 8:35-39)
I need help to live without fear. We need to help one another in this every day. I need us to be less violent and protective and more open and sacrificial so that I can really understand Christ. And so the Kingdom of God will exist, even if it's just a glimpse of the resurrection. I NEED to see the Kingdom of God more often. I think we all do. Because then we can know "Love never fails. As for prophecies, they will be brought to an end. As for tongues, they will stop. As for knowledge, it will be brought to an end. We know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end. ... Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13:8-13)