*Easter’s Persistent Hope

I believe in Easter. No one can prove for you the resurrection of Jesus. My belief in Easter is set in life experiences and years of pastoral ministry. I believe in Easter, in part, because of the other resurrections in my life. We stumble and fall. We mess up our lives. We make huge mistakes that hurt others and ourselves. We fail more often than we want to admit to ourselves, and definitely not to others. Our lives take painful turns. We encounter losses and heartache. Our world crashes around us. We almost give in to despair. Were it not, for God’s steadfast love and presence, we would give up.

I believe in the resurrection of Jesus, because it simply doesn’t make sense to me that for two thousand years people have been fooled by a story that had no fact, no truth, no reality behind it. Or that this story would endure through all these years and be passed on from one generation to another. It makes no sense to me that those cowardly disciples of Jesus would suddenly develop courage or that they would face dangers and hardship. Why would they be willing to give up their lives for a fraud? Someone else might have, but not that set of disciples who seemed more interested in getting to the top of the heap than serving God. It makes no sense that this skeptical group of disciples would have proclaimed Jesus as risen, unless they had personally experienced Jesus’ presence in some tangible way. Not this set of disciples – who doubted entirely Jesus’ resurrection, when the good news was brought to them. Not these disciples who said, to themselves and each other, this is “only an idle tale.”

For two thousand years one person has shared stories of encountering a living and resurrected Christ with another. People told of their lives changed for the better. Thieves gave up on stealing. People struggling with addictions found strength for recovery. The angry bitter person started to love. All done through this Jesus. Hospitals were founded and the hungry fed in the name of Jesus. For two thousand years, people who had given up on life have found hope in the presence of Christ. In that encounter they have found meaning and purpose. Those who felt themselves without love have discovered a God who loves unconditionally. Some, who encountered the living Christ in a moment of crisis or defeat, found strength and a power outside themselves. I believe in Easter – because the world is created in such a way that life always follows death – spring always follows winter. I believe because there have been people in my life representing God to me, who for no conceivable reason I could see, reached out to me in times I desperately needed someone to care. I can only attribute that care and love to answered prayers – God’s people responding to need.

An empty tomb without a risen Christ would mean little. A risen savior who left no words behind or wisdom to draw from, would be of little help. William Sloane Coffin say’s of Jesus “Miracles do not a messiah make . . . But a messiah can do miracles. . . . I can also report that in home after home I have seen Jesus change beer into furniture, sinners into saints, hate-filled relations into loving ones, cowardice into courage, the fatigue of despair into the buoyancy of hope. In instance after instance, life after life, I have seen Christ be ‘God’s power unto salvation,’ and that’s miracle enough for me.”

I believe in Easter. I am confident that God can turn a life around, that death and sin can be overcome. I believe that God who loves us and came in Jesus Christ will have the last world. There are really no proofs to the resurrection, only witnesses. Just witnesses transformed into one of God’s new creations. Through these last two thousand years, people in all walks of life have testified to the presence of the living Lord in their lives. They have found a grace which truly was sufficient for every need. Through that grace, they have lived difficult lives courageously, vibrantly and victoriously – for they knew they were never alone. However many times they were knocked down, they lived in the confidence God would be there to raise them above the place they fell. Christ continues to offer that same gift today, to come as a friend, whenever a heart is prepared to receive the gift. Sometimes, it’s as simple of asking Jesus into your heart – or as scary as turning your life over to Christ and trusting that God means only good. Today is a good day to let Easter, and its promise, into your heart.

 “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.  But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human.”  I Corinthians 15:19-21

Prayer – God, open my heart to receive you. I give you my fears, my doubts, my cynicism and my skepticism. I offer my heart, my mind and spirit to you, trusting your love is wider than my fears, your compassion greater than my mistakes and your goodness large enough to receive me as I am. Amen

*A version of this post, was first published on April 12, 2017 as “I Believe in Easter”