Easter is the central event of the Christian faith. On this blessed day, we awake to a find a brave new world in which the veil that blinds us to the love of God at work in the world is torn and the power of God’s love is revealed as Jesus conquers death and sin on the day of resurrection.
But Easter comes only after the sacred and very difficult journey through Lent and after a time of prayer, introspection and reflection on our life’s journey, both as individuals and as communities; a time to take a personal moral inventory of our relationships with our God and our neighbors, our family members and our communities.
We are called to work on our spiritual disciplines, but just as importantly, to examine and evaluate the quality of our lives in the world, using the Great Commandments to love God, neighbor and self as our measure. It is intended to be a transformative process, as we take up our burdens and our baggage only to lay it at the foot of the cross at Calvary, so that we may be transformed and empowered to be bearers of the good news of God’s infinite grace, and so that we may seek the welfare of the people and the places among whom God has planted us, because, as the scripture says, “it is in their welfare, that you will find your welfare.”
Just as importantly, we are encouraged to look critically at what the bible calls the “principalities and powers;” specifically, the structures of our human society, our institutions, both secular and sacred. Just as Jesus called out the religious and political leaders and institutions of his day when they privileged some and persecuted others, so we are called to do the same, to see justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly but determinedly in the footsteps of the Christ who promised that we would find him among the least, the lost and the last.
Of course, to many of us, this solemn and difficult season seems like it has been going on for a lot longer than the traditional 40 days. Since the pandemic forced the shutdown last year, it has been a journey through the wilderness every day, even as governments were caught unprepared, disorder raged and thousands died every day. The small fasts, the petty sacrifices that are the usual stuff of a traditional Lent were subsumed by the struggle to put food on the table, keep the kids from losing ground as schools were closed and all the things we had to do, just to stay alive.
Repentance and introspection are not necessarily on everyone’s list this year, especially since this long, hard trek isn’t over yet and the celebration of the resurrection will most likely take place again this year with at least some restrictions in place. All the more reason to rejoice, to praise God and to give thanks because ours is a God who makes new life out of the ashes of destruction and death. This is our opportunity to open our eyes, our ears and our spirits and hear the call to do better, to be better, to make something redemptive out of our struggles, to put down our swords and put out our hands instead. As the broken places of our lives together, our institutions, and as our ways of being in the world are revealed, we have an opportunity to repent and repair them and make straight the way of the lord, the way of love, the way of peace.
Easter is not simply about the resuscitation of a dead prophet, it is about the incredible power of love to defeat sin, selfishness and even death. It is about hope, about faith and about love, about rejoicing in the grace of a loving God. Happy Easter to you and may God bless us all,
Lukens is a pastor at Bethany Congregational Church in East Rockaway.