Kirk Byron Jones, author of The Jazz of Preaching and editor of The African-American Preaching Library writes:
“Handling the resurrection is challenging; being handled by the resurrection is even more challenging. In Alaine Alsire’s novel, Lazarus’ problem was not being raised; his problem was being raised ‘different.’ He was not the same person. Christian resurrection is not just about coming back to life, but coming back to life ‘different.’ We don’t do different well. In social relations, all too often we interpret different as deficient…
Being handled by the resurrection means constantly challenging our fear of the unknown, and even more…constantly challenging our fear ‘of the loss of the known.’ Being handled by the resurrection means learning to relax in the experience of new life. May we enter with God into the work of changing and recomposing our lives. May we rise and cheer such resurrections.”
Any reflection I do upon the resurrection brings me to the discovery that the attention of the early church was focused on the transforming power of the risen Christ. Those early followers of Jesus saw themselves as evidence of the power of the Christ to transform lives.
Even though there were those who did not want Jesus around, God raised him up and put him back to preaching, teaching, and healing. The early followers of Jesus understood Jesus to be with them in the midst of their present living. He was beside them, sustaining them. He was doing his work of preaching, teaching, and healing in and through them.
On the morning of the Resurrection, God gave us God’s transforming presence. For me, God’s presence does not necessarily show up in the empty tomb, but the lives of grace-filled Christ-followers who put faith into action.
The crowning evidence of God’s transforming presence is not a vacant grave, but a Spirit-filled congregation of Christ-followers. Not a rolled-away stone, but a carried-away church. Not feel-good activities, but people engaged in the life and vitality of the community in which they live.
For me, the proof of the resurrection is seen in our love for one another and for the people who surround us. On the morning of the Resurrection, God gave us Jesus, raised from the dead, to new life, to new direction, to new possibilities, to new hope.
The power of Jesus’ resurrection is to reshape our lives to live the way Jesus lived and to think the way Jesus thought. The thrust of the resurrection is to help us change our way of living so that it begins to resemble the life of Jesus.
For you and me, the resurrection is the greatest event in all of life. It means that we live all of life in the presence, love, and power of God who we know and have experienced in Jesus.
A Continuing Event
The late Dr. Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard wrote:
“…the resurrection is a continuing event which involves everyone who dares be involved in it. Easter is not just about Jesus, it’s about you. Jesus has already claimed his new life. What about you? Easter is not just about the past, it’s about the future. Your best days are ahead of you. The proof of the resurrection is in your hands and in your life.
Wow! What a call to ministry! To help answer that call, I invite you to participate, with me, in a spiritual and missional spring training.
This is time for you and your congregation to practice the fundamentals of reading the scripture, praying and reflecting upon the scripture, and responding to the scripture.
Missional Spring Training
Beginning this Sunday, Easter Sunday, and continuing through the Season of Easter, we will focus on several parables from Luke’s gospel. We’ll focus on one parable each week. Throughout the week, we’ll look at each verse in the parable. Each day we’ll ask a variation of, “How does this reflect our current reality?”
It is my hope that we will become more and more the evidence of the Resurrection. As we become more and more acquainted with God’s presence in the people we meet and in the communities in which we live, may we become evidence of the resurrection.
May we enter with God into the work of changing and recomposing our lives. May we rise and cheer such resurrections.