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Always in Easter

He is raised... He is not here..."
Matthew 28:6

What of Easter? It may have only been yesterday, yet much of the world is already moving on to those next things. Mother’s Day, May 9, is coming soon. Then there is Memorial Day, and planning for summer vacation, (We hope that is beyond the confines of our homes!). We might be tempted to start looking ahead, but we Christians have now just stepped into what we call the “Great Fifty Days.” The chocolate may be melted, the baskets put away, and the plastic eggs sealed until next year, but we remain in the season of Easter.

Even more so, we are living “in” the Easter season all the time. Yes, we have the liturgical rhythm that keeps us mindful of our story, but the Cross event happened only once; and the Resurrection of Christ happened once; and all that is wrapped up in that is an offer for us to take within ourselves–regardless of whether or not the world has boxed up Easter for another year.

He has been raised; He is not here!” are words we hold to from the Resurrection narratives. And those words, signifying that act of particularity, signified the whole reason for Christ’s coming among us–in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s words, “The resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s yes to Christ and to his atoning work.”[1] That means that all the forgiveness and removal of guilt that we seek for things done and left undone did indeed take place at Golgotha. It was offered, not as a trophy for distinguished service, but as a kind of door prize for simply walking through the door of faith.
Bonhoeffer has a bit more to say to encourage us as we reflect on resurrection:
“What does the resurrection mean, and what can it mean for remembers the struggle of guilty humankind against divine love, or better: of divine love against guilty humankind, a struggle in which God seems to succumb on Good Friday and in which precisely by succumbing he actually is victorious on Easter…Good Friday is not, like winter, a transitional stage. No, it really is the end, the end of guilty humankind and the final judgment humankind pronounces on itself… If God’s history among human beings had come to an end on Good Friday, the last word on humankind would be: guilt, revolt, unfettering of all human-titanic powers, storming of heaven by human beings, godlessness, abandonment by God, which ends up ultimately in meaningless and despair… 
…The meaning of the Easter message is: God is the death of death, God lives, and so does Christ live; death was not able to keep him against the superiority of God. God pronounced the mighty word against death, destroyed it, and raised Jesus Christ…That is Easter. Not abandonment by God, but the fullness of God…God and God’s mighty victory over humankind, over death and guilt and rebellion. That is Easter…”[2]

So, we are in it now. We are in “Easter,” really up to our necks! And that is a good thing, is it not? Given what Bonhoeffer has to teach us, it is a good thing indeed. In fact, given what that bright white angel said to the two women on that first Easter morn’, “He is raised…He is not here,” it may very well be the best thing ever… only strike “may very well be” and in its place, put “IS!

An Easter Prayer 
by the Rev. Dr. Russel J. Levenson, Jr.

Oh Lord, of fresh starts;
Oh Master of new beginnings;
Oh Firstborn of the Resurrection Hope,

Plant within me, now—right now!—an assurance of all the promises of Easter!

Renew my hope, strengthen my resolve 
to not only have faith, but to fully trust.

That in your mighty, wounded hands,
any darkness I face will melt into light;
any end I encounter, will merely be just an open door;
and any death I endure, may simply be a welcome invitation, 
to more abundant life here, and life eternal with you and all the saints in light!


[1] From Meditations on the Cross, p. 64.
[2] Ibid., pp. 71-73.
The Rev. Dr. Russell J. Levenson, Jr.
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