Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Lord is risen indeed…!

What’s your favorite Easter memory? I have many, but let me share two with you. The first is from age six or so, when my family had traveled to Illinois for Easter with Grandma Ray. On Easter Eve, I slept upstairs, anxiously awaiting that elusive Bunny to visit with chocolate, colorful eggs and maybe a present. This year, however, I was determined to get more- I wanted to catch the Bunny at work. So I set a trap. I drew arrows on small pieces of paper, and arranged them in a trail that led to…well…the Bunny would have to follow to find out. At the trail’s end were treats and a note saying, “Help yourself.” But that wasn’t all. I’d balanced my grandma’s extra cane in such a way that when the Bunny bent over for the treats, s/he would inevitably knock the cane over, waking me up so I could bound down the stairs in triumph and catch a glimpse of the mythical beast. Of course, when I awoke Sunday morning, at the normal time, ‘the Bunny’ had replaced a few of the arrows in my trail with jelly beans or Easter eggs, and the cane was still perched in its pre-alarm state. And yet, the treats were gone, which surprises no one who knows my parents, or knew Grandma Ray.

My second favorite Easter memory is less silly, and more frequent. It happens in most churches (that I’ve attended) during service. Someone will stand at the lectern, quiet the congregation, and proclaim full-voiced, excitedly, “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” We respond, “The Lord is risen, indeed!” That’s a favorite because all the hope and joy, expectation and love I can muster as a Christian hangs on the power of that triumphant proclamation.

Some might say that means I overvalue Easter, but I don’t agree. I think Easter is the best day of the year; the most awe-inspiring memory we Christians pass on to our children and communities. Christ is risen! You might understand the impact of that differently than I, but I’m guessing you think it has something to with Jesus’ overcoming death, transcending human sin and frailty, God revealing that the basic framework of God’s love puts “New Life” as THE priority, for humans, for the environment, for all Creation. It’s not so much an argument that Christians make on Easter. It’s a shout. “THE LORD IS RISEN, INDEED!!!” I’m getting chills while typing, that’s how much I love Easter.

And here’s the best part- You don’t have to shout by yourself. Easter invites us to celebrate Christ’s resurrection into new life in a new Body, together. Why? Because that powerful memory of the risen Christ that we pass on (should) demonstrates itself best in Christian community, in the redemption of the whole Body of Christ, especially our ever-increasing ability to be and share God’s Good News to our neighbors. In other words, Easter asks Christian communities to embody the resurrection.

Tall task, amen? But again, you don’t do it alone. And you don’t do it just once a year. We’ve been practicing this for some time now, which is why this Easter feels particularly exciting. For one, it’ll be my first with Plymouth Creek. But more than that, the Unbinding the Gospel process will have begun. To jog your memory, this is a process of training and empowering one another to grow in prayer and share our faith with our neighbors. Or, if you prefer, it’s a process to help us proclaim, “The Lord is risen, indeed!” with stronger confidence, deeper awe and humility, and greater hope that our proclaiming might bring divine love to folk we care about. How will we best be able to make this proclamation, with what words, or what deeds of compassion and justice? I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out! Because I know that this embodying the resurrection, this life of being the risen Christ to one another and those most vulnerable in our midst, this respect for community and its new-life-giving properties, it’s all something you’ve practiced for years. And it’s worth shouting about. “The Lord is risen, indeed! Right here, on this cozy street corner! In our very midst!” Don’t be surprised if you see some arrows pointing the way. In all things,

Grace and Peace,