We are now three weeks into the Season of Easter. For some this may be a difficult juxtaposition. We as the church are celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. We are singing joyous songs and talk about the joy and triumph of the Resurrection. Yet it maybe that some of us are still stuck in circumstances of life more in keeping with Holy Week or Good Friday. We are often still struggling with what we were struggling before Easter. Life and the church year don't always agree. We may not feel like rejoicing. This uncomfortable juxtaposition though is itself part of the journey of faith, it is part and parcel of the experience of the church. We rejoice at the Resurrection but are left with seeing Christ and having him disappear from view. We have the signs of God's presence but God as often as not seems distant or absent. The Resurrection has occurred but we wait the final consummation of the work begun in Jesus Christ. We celebrate the victory of Christ over Sin Death and the Devil, and yet we see the continued signs of those three things at work in the world. Our joy, our Easter joy then does not come from the circumstances of the world and our life. This is the difference between joy and happiness. We can easily confuse the two especially in a country that has lifted up the pursuit of happiness as a great good that should be unimpeded. But our happiness depends on circumstances. Joy is not dependent on circumstances.
As we hear the stories of the Resurection and the beginning of the church the circumstances remain largely unchanged for the Apostles and Jesus' followers: the leaders of the Jewish people did not come around and admit Jesus to be the Messiah, the persecution that the disciples feared did come. The Resurrection did not convince the powers to step aside and accept Jesus Christ, and embrace the Kingdom of God as the way things are. No, the logic of violence and death, remained entrenched. So then what good is Jesus' resurrection? What comfort is there in Easter and the proclamation of Christ risen? Our comfort is that violence, death, the powers of the world, the politicians (religious and secular) do not have the last word. And our hope is not in politics, wars, and the ways of the World. The Resurection of Christ is the sign that all these things have been judged as wanting, and that there is another word, God's Word. Suffering now has meaning if it is joined with and identified with Christ's sufferings, if it is seen as part of the redemption of the entire cosmos. If things seem unchanged it is because God desires to draw all things into this other Word, this other way. By death Christ beat down death, that is God overcomes the world not by conquering it but by passing through its evil and overturning the world's verdict about what is real and true.
So yes, God is slow, and at times the Resurrection seems to have no effect on us or the world. And yet, we are signs of its effect. Through faith in Christ our suffering can become our joy, as we see God transforming us and the world in the midst of its and our own failings. Through faith in Christ our struggles and sufferings can add to and fulfill Christ's own sufferings, as we join ourselves to the redemptive work of God in Jesus Christ. So we may not always be happy or free of pain, but we can know that God is with us in and through our suffering and hardship. We can know that God is one who is acquainted with grief because of the incarnation, and God in Jesus Christ has overcome the world and all its suffering and hardship. Our suffering is not and will not be the last word, but the Resurrected Christ is the last word, because Jesus is God's Word. Easter Celebration and joy are to communicate to us that we are to rest in this last word and hope in the Resurrection as the sign that God is truly making all things new.
The blog has been quiet for the past few months as Laura and Larry have acclimated to Tripp's absence. However, Laura has posted here last several sermons and Larry had a manuscript written for his last sermon this past Sunday. So, come visit the blog if you haven't in awhile or missed a recent Sunday service.
Laura and Larry are presenting a seminar with the Pastor Gabi Aelabouni of St Elias Christian Church and Pastor Monte Johnson of Immanuel Lutheran Church at the National Workshop on Christian Unity this Tuesday, April 15th. We are presenting on the joint work our three congregations are doing and what we hope for the ecumenical and multicultural relationships between the three congregations.
Our Monthly congregational council meeting is this Thursday, April 17th 7:30 PM at the 'Nidge. All are welcome to attend.
The next Social Action Committee meeting will be Monday April 21st. For details talk with Chrissy Swanson or Jeremy John.
Our summer outreach will again to be present at the Clark Street Festival and the Glenwood Arts festival. Look for more details in the coming month. If you are an artist (visual, music, fabric, etc.) talk with Larry about being part of our booth and the Glenwood Arts Festival(We plan to reserve a larger one than we had last year.)
Our Search Committee for our next Baptist pastor had its first meeting this past Wednesday its next meeting is schedules for Thursday April 24th.