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The risen Lord is in our midst!

by Linda Bond, Commissioner – 

by Commissioner Linda Bond“Dark and cheerless is the morn unaccompanied by Thee” wrote Charles Wesley. How this one line of his song spans the centuries! It accurately sums up my reaction following the early morning news. I suppose if I were wiser, I would not use my radio for the morning alarm. Today was bad news all around, the anti-war demonstrations, terrorists surrounded by Pakistani troops, the political fall-out of the Spanish terrorist attack, renewed fighting between Israel and the Palestinians. Hatred and violence was the common thread. And to think they have given The Passion of the Christ an “R” rating for violence! The only reprieve from the war news was the gay marriage issue and the ongoing dual for the presidency. No matter what the issue, doom and gloom seemed to be the story line. And the age-old question resurfaces, what’s this world coming to? That’s not what we had hoped for. Why couldn’t the 21st century be different?

Yet, in the midst of it, the Church will keep preaching the good news about Jesus. We will call people to personal faith in him and tell them that there is a transforming power that can effect an eternal change. We will call for personal holiness and remind ourselves that purity in an impure world is possible. We will weep at loved ones’ funerals but proclaim that the grave is not the end. We will dream of the city of God, of reunions, beauty, peace and community. But somehow our great statements of belief sound more like make believe. Is it our way of transcending the reality of an advanced but uncivilized society? Are we using a paltry taper to penetrate the inescapable darkness? Are we no more than a religious commune in a sea of moral decay, civil unrest and global warfare? Are we whistling a happy tune so no one will suspect we’re afraid?

How depressing! But in facing reality, are we more in sync with the followers of Jesus on that first Easter morning? They had great hopes. How could you possibly be in the company of Jesus for three years and not anticipate a better world? How could you see him perform his miracles, tell his stories and confront his adversaries without thinking that you had aligned yourself with a winner? The Messiah had come finally and the dream would be realized—peace on earth, starting in Palestine! But before Mel Gibson brought it to the big screen, they had witnessed the passion of the Christ. The tomb, which they were now visiting, at least gave him rest from the savage beatings and shameful death. But while it was over for him, his ending brought the beginning of their sorrow and the loss of their hope. “Dark and cheerless” was the morn.

But his resurrection changed all that! This gave a hope beyond hope. Their Lord was not just resuscitated. He did not rise to die again. He was alive—eternally! It was the resurrection that made sense of everything. His claims to divinity were not just the bold statements of a fanatic or the naïve slogans of the faithful. He really was, in truth, the God in flesh. It was as though a giant “yes” was printed across the sky in bold capital letters, YES! to every promise he had made, YES! to the defeat of Satan, YES! to victory over death. The resurrection of Jesus was not the final chapter of the four gospels. It was the climax of the great salvation story. For the New Testament writers, his resurrection was not just a possibility or a probability. It was as one writer claimed, “the rock-bottom fact upon which the solid structure of Christian faith and life is built.”

And so Easter morning will come again this year in the midst of global and national stress, but we will not be meandering through the mists of doubt and despair, meeting in our halls to commemorate the life and death of Jesus. No, we will mentally stand by the open tomb again and relive the resurrection story. There will be dynamism in our preaching, enthusiasm in our singing, authenticity in our fellowship and fervency in our prayers. Why? Because the risen Lord is in our midst!


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