By NEMS Daily Journal
Easter continues in many churches for two more Sundays – the season of Easter, which ends with Pentecost on May 27 – and while the sanctuaries probably aren’t as full, the music not as spectacular as on April 8, and emotions not as soaring, the basic message of new life and outlook is the same, and undiminished.
John Buchanan, a noted preacher who is editor of the magazine, “The Christian Century,” wrote in a commentary during April about the continuing “resurrection” theme and how it fundamentally changes the outlook on life.
“I’m thinking more about what it means to live in a world where a resurrection has happened,” Buchanan wrote. “… I miss the old way of referring to Eastertide and Christmastide. The intent was to designate an extended season rather than a single day, and I need the reminder that while each of the two events – the birth of the baby and the appearance of the risen Christ – is loaded with power and potential for glorious celebration, both are far more.”
Eastertide and Christmastide are for exploration and consideration of worldview-changing realities, Buchanan said. “Preachers know that while Easter Sunday is great fun, with gorgeous flowers, glorious music and full sanctuaries, the most important Sundays in the church year are the Sundays afterward … with the meanings and implications of what happened and the sense that nothing can ever be the same.”
Buchanan, recently retired from a long career as a pastor and parish minister, suggests that living in a world where a resurrection happened means believing “the proclamation that goodness and truth are not ultimately overwhelmed by evil and untruth, regardless of what is transpiring at any particular historical moment. Reality in this world is the murder of 17 Afghan adults and children by a profoundly disturbed American soldier, or the killing of a 17-year-old black youth by a neighborhood vigilante whose act is backed by a Florida law that justifies shooting in response to any perceived threat of violence, or the threat of Iran apparently creating nuclear weapons even as it trumpets the vilest anti-Semitism, or of Israel considering a preemptive strike that would precipitate a much wider conflict, while its lethal occupation of Palestine goes to the back burner. It takes a strong faith, or foolish naïveté, to keep working for peace, justice and reconciliation.”
Even Jesus’ immediate followers lost that faith after the crucifixion.
“They had begun to believe that it is better to give than to receive, that forgiveness is always better than retaliation, that in order to live fully one has to find ways to give of one’s life, and that including the outcast and marginalized is better than excluding them – all of that was shattered when the powers of the world decided that Jesus should be crucified,” Buchanan commented.
Many people lose hope over far less unnerving events.
Even though “political and religious authority demonstrated the world’s reality,” as Buchanan described, the final word does not necessarily belong to the world’s power and powerful.
When the resurrection validated itself with Jesus’ returning to his disciples’ presence, the truth of his ideas, their meaning amplified, showed that working for what he taught would always be holy work, work worth living and dying for.
“Everything is different because we now live in a world where death did not have the final word,” Buchanan said.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another,” Jesus said in John 15.
A life lived within the resurrection is a life redefined, in belief and practice.