Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Do not give in to despair. . .

It is still Easter, though weeks from the churches filled with people, trumpets blaring, lines of communicants, choral extravaganzas, and breakfasts together in the parish hall.  Yes, it is still Easter.  We have to remind ourselves of that.  Easter too soon is forgotten and its joy replaced at best with the humdrum of ordinary life and at worst with despair over a world of inequities, immoralities, and injustices.  How hard it is to remember that Easter is not a distraction but a new perspective upon life, on ourselves, and on the future!  Today is one of those tests.  Whatever you read in the news or whatever disappointment you shoulder over your marriage or kids or job or lack of them.  Whatever you suffer unfairly or justly for your wrong or whatever of this touches the lives of your loved ones.  Whatever diagnosis shocks you or death comes near you.  We are Easter people.  If death is done, despair cannot triumph.  How we struggle to recall this fact as we make our way through the routine of life, through its ups, and through its downs!

Yes, the Church is fragile and weak, like those within her.  Yes, her ministers are flawed people.  Yes, the pews are not as full.  Yes, the finances are a mess.  Yes to all of these and still Christ is risen, sin is forgiven, we belong to God, and death is undone.  Yes, the world is a mess threatening ever more toward total chaos.  Yes, our leaders embarrass us, our tax dollars are wasted, our economy is tenuous, our lives under threat, our commutes long and arduous, and our jobs a struggle.  Yes to all of these and Christ is still risen, we await a greater city, the blessed rest of the faithful, the new heavens and the new earth.

The lesson of Easter is less the surprise that Jesus is risen.  He said He would rise, instructed His disciples to meet Him in Galilee, and opened the Scriptures so that we would see this coming.  No, the real surprise here is that the disciples who followed Him and appeared so dense were transformed by the Easter message into a dynamo powered by the Spirit to speak, to tell, to preach, and to teach what they had only days before feared even to mention.  These were nobodies who now are hall of famers in the sacred temples of the living God.  And we are among them.  Despair may be our constant threat but it cannot win.  Christ is risen and with Him we too shall rise!

And still nobodies stand before altars and pledge themselves to each other as brides as the Church is bride of Christ and grooms as Christ is bridegroom.  Still the Lord graces their lives with children and the hope of love is fulfilled.  Still this mom and dad bring their children to the waters of baptism that they may know the eternal love that has redeemed them as well as the temporal love that forms their home.  Still these parents fold the hands of their sons and daughters and teach them to pray in the darkness and to rise every day in the light of Christ.  Still they put the catechism into their hands and teach them its truths to know and pray as the shape of their lives in Christ.  Still families gather in darkened churches with candles singing Silent Night and solemnly approach the altar with ashes to sign the inward repentance and wave their branches of palm while singing Hosanna and somberly sing O Sacred Head Now Wounded before rejoicing with Alleluias restored until the Spirit from on high reverses Babel and joins many voices into one, confessing and praising the Triune God.

We do this as Easter people, set free and transformed by the fruits of a death and the death that died -- all for us.  Despair may be our constant struggle and our greatest temptation but it has no legitimate place among us.  We are Easter people.  Easter is not just a season of the Church Year but a mindset, a perspective, and a shape of life.  Sin has been forgiven, guilt no more chains us to our shame, life is not random but directed toward a goal, and death is no more the prison from which there is no escape.  Think about that today. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you, this was very much appreciated, Pastor.