Rev's Revelations

 

“We are an Easter people!” I remember hearing my pastor and congregation saying those words with conviction and excitement. I can’t remember where those words came from—an order for confession and forgiveness or a thanksgiving for baptism, perhaps? In my childlike faith, I believed those words meant that we all believed the very same thing: Jesus died and rose for the forgiveness of our sins so that we could all rise from death and live forever in heaven.


But, then, I went to confirmation class and I learned to ask questions. What does this mean—that we are forgiven, that Jesus rose from the dead? Then, I went to a Lutheran college and that questioning grew, Who is forgiven, for whom did Jesus live and die? Then, I went to seminary—and the questioning became, To whom do I need to proclaim forgiveness? Finally, I became a pastor and I knew everything. APRIL FOOLS! My beliefs about that statement, “We are an Easter people,” have grown and changed—and, I still have questions.


My question as of late is: What does it matter, that we are “an Easter people”?


Does being Easter people matter in a place where death—by virus or violence—lurks around every corner? Does it matter in a time when people—even Easter people—can’t agree and can’t even agree to disagree? Does being Easter people mean anything for our lives in this world?


The reformers (like, Martin Luther) and early church leaders (like the apostle Paul), would say that it does matter. In Romans 5, Paul wrote about being “justified by faith,” which became core to Martin Luther’s theology and particularly in his teaching on the Freedom of a Christian. Luther’s basic claim is that as Christians (or Easter people) we believe that Jesus’ actions release us from sin, death, the devil, eternal judgment—all those things that we are afraid will keep us from God’s grace. We have no need to sacrifice or atone. We are free—by no doing of our own. That matters—being Easter people matters—because being freed from those things frees us for life. Not just life after death, but for eternal life. And eternity began a long time ago. We are freed for this life. Here and now. To not only be brought up by Christ, but to bring others up, too. To love others the way God loves us. That’s what it means to be an Easter people!


My question for you, What does being an Easter people look like here and now?


One of many fantastic examples of what this means in our congregation right now. There is a group of members who have spent the past year listening to people around us who are considered marginalized. They have organized to begin our Social Justice Ministry, approved by council, which seeks to live into the call of Micah 6:8 to do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with God. Their emphasis is on justice--on lifting people up the way Jesus does. But, that’s just one example of being Easter people.


Take time this month to:

1. Check out Deanna H.'s article about the newly forming social justice ministry.

2. Reflect on where you see Easter people and how you might be Easter people, too.


Peace,
Rev KJC

© 2021 Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Connected Sound - Websites for the Barbershop Community
javporn.cc