Announcement from the Communications Office
To: All the Faithful
From: The Canon for Communications
Re: 2024 Easter Message
Date: March 31, 2024
The Bishop's Easter Message
Happy Easter! We come together to celebrate what God has done for Jesus on this day. He is risen. Love is stronger than death. Alleluia! Good news. And there is even more good news. Philips Brooks, the famous preacher and bishop of Massachusetts in the 1890’s said this: “Let every man and woman count themselves immortal. Let us not merely say ‘Christ is risen’ but I shall rise.” And that does not only mean life after death. It means resurrection in this life.

Jake Owensby, a friend of mine and the bishop of Western Louisiana, wrote a book called, A Resurrection-Shaped Life. And how do we get that life? We get it by practicing the way of life which is the way of love that Jesus led. 

At his baptism, Jesus heard words from God saying: “You are my beloved son,” even before he did anything great and awesome. And that can be true for us. A theologian wrote: “You must try to pray so that in your prayer you open yourself that sometime you are able to hear God say to you ‘I love you.’ These words addressed by God to you are the most important words you will ever hear because before you hear them, nothing is ever completely right with you. But after you hear them, something will be right at a very deep level.”

Jesus lived a life of gratitude. Remember the story of the feeding of the 5000—my favorite Bible story? 5000 people are gathered in a deserted place to hear Jesus preach, to be healed and forgiven by him. As evening draws near, the apostles tell Jesus to send them away because they will need to eat. Jesus says, “You feed them.” They say we only have 5 loaves and 2 fish. It is not enough. Jesus says give them to me. He thanks God for this gift, blesses the food, gives it away. God multiplies the grace and all 5000 are fed with food leftover.

The miracle began with gratitude. We are invited to live out of gratitude. One of my spiritual practices is to begin each day, right after I wake up, saying in my mind and soul to God, “Thank you for my life. Thank you for another day.” It makes a big difference for me. It feels like Resurrection.

Jesus spent time in silence. In our busy, sometimes chaotic lives, we are invited to intentionally put time aside to simply be. It is part of a resurrection-shaped life.

Jesus spent time alone, but his life was community centered. He called disciples. He gathered people into community. You are choosing that life by being here today. The spiritual life is not a solitary life. It is a life lived in community.

Luke’s gospel tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom and understanding. We believe he never sinned but he had his mind changed. There was a time when Jesus thought his mission was only to the people of Israel. And then in an encounter with a mother who requested help for her dying child, he recognized he was called to serve all people. As followers of Jesus we are called to be life-long learners.

Jesus was curious. Did you know in the 4 gospels, Jesus asked 307 questions! We commonly say “Jesus is the answer.” But maybe Jesus is “the question.” Always inviting us deeper into the one previous life we have.

Of course, Jesus always heard the cry of the poor and the suffering. The stories are abundant. They are at the core of his mission of mercy, compassion and hope. Often times, in those stories, we are told “Jesus lifted him up.” Or, “she got up.” Those words are similar to “raised up.” Showing us again that resurrection is not just for the end of life. Resurrection happens within our lives. And we are called to be sources of resurrection in the lives of others.

In this time of tremendous political tension in our country, it is important to note that Jesus called out the political leaders of his time. He loved all people, but when King Herod was behaving as a tyrant, he called him out as a fox. And that didn’t mean clever. It meant “weasel.” In a resurrection-shaped life, we are called to participate in our political process and vote our values.

Through it all, Jesus lived ever mindful of what his parents taught him. We know in Luke’s gospel that his mother Mary would see things happen and she would “treasure them in her heart.” She remembered grace-filled moments in her life. Matthew’s gospel tells us that his father Joseph would hear from angels in his dreams. Four times. Joseph dreamed of a better, safer world and he acted on it. Together, Mary, the keeper of memories, and Joseph the dreamer, raised the Prince of Peace. What are the memories you treasure? And what is your dream for your life, your family, your community, our world?

And why did Jesus tell us all this? The Gospel of John tells us: “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” 

There is so much more to say about Jesus. John’s gospel ends with the words “There are so many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”

Christ is risen! Alleluia! 
And we are invited into the joy and purpose and meaning of that Resurrection.

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