Worshiping with Sharon Chubbuck and Judson at NCF was a treat. May Sharon’s Easter reflection bless you as well. -Renée
Judson and I spent Easter weekend in Illinois. We visited both our families, we saw old friends and met new people. On Easter Sunday morning, we worshipped with the family of God at New Covenant Fellowship. It was a good weekend in just about every way.
We also enjoyed Illinois springtime, which arrives about four weeks sooner than in Milwaukee. The sun was bright, the air almost warm. The vivid green grass startled us both. We smiled at the daffodils nodding in rhythm with the breeze and the small faces of yellow and purple pansies audaciously announcing to the world that the time of joy had come.
Then this morning, I woke up in Milwaukee to snow on the ground. The contrast made me laugh even as I sighed with disappointment. I want the warmth of the sun, the green and yellow and purple of spring—I want it now. Though this sounds a bit dramatic, the contrast seems like cold death insisting on its power even as warm life was boldly emerging.
That contrast reminded me that the church has long celebrated not just one day of Easter, but a season of Easter that lasts 50 days, until Pentecost Sunday. Pope John Paul II said, “Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.” So what does it mean for us to be “Easter people” over the long haul, after the songs of Easter Sunday have echoed away?
Jesus’ resurrection is God’s ultimate answer to death, a source of comfort and hopeful anticipation for a future when death will lose its sting for us all. But God’s answer also matters on this side of the grave. The resurrection invites us to join in Jesus’ life, to embrace God as he did and be partners in the mission he pursued “in the land of the living.” Early on, Jesus announced that “the spirit of the Lord is upon me.” The breath of God seized and enlivened him to bring “glad tidings to the poor,” “liberty to captives,” and “recovery of sight to the blind.”Jesus brings God’s love to those who are marginalized by injustice, freedom to those who are imprisoned in sin, and healing to those whose very self has been broken.
Jesus was an Easter person long before he experienced the cross and empty tomb. He fully lived the rhythm of winter and spring, of death and life. He found ways to be God’s life and love in the world, in the best and the hardest of circumstances, including the final test, his own death. He lived his life filled with the breath of God, making it is his home, and then he gave himself to share that home with all.
Fifty days after Resurrection Day, on Pentecost Sunday, Jesus breathed the breath of God on those who loved him, saying in essence, “You have known me. Now, together, go and be me in the world.”
What does it mean to be Easter people? I think it means living in the continuing cycle of winter, with dark, empty branches and seeds lying in the ground—and spring, with startling vivid colors of new life springing up. It means together breathing the breath of God and immersing ourselves in the spirit of Jesus. We help each other hold on to the “hallelujahs” of Easter well beyond one Sunday morning in April. And we are invited to be Easter people like Jesus was an Easter person, bringing a little more warmth, a few more splashes of green, purple and yellow to the world around us, even when the snow persists.
The ideas for this meditation were inspired by Michael J. Sanem and Bishop Robert Barron, https://godinallthings.com/2018/04/09/resurrection-people/