“The early disciples had little ritual but a mighty realization. They went out not remembering Christ, but experiencing him. He was not a mere fair and beautiful story to remember with gratitude — he was a living, redemptive, actual presence then and there. They went out with the joyous and grateful cry, “Christ Lives in me!” The Jesus of history had become the Christ of experience.” (E. Stanley Jones)
Easter has come. Has it gone from us? We have a few weeks left with the gospels to hear those post-resurrection stories of disciples locked up in fear until they fish again, of friends on the Emmaus road home wishing it had all turned out differently, their hearts burning with grief. All of them are encountered by the risen Christ, who lingered for forty days before his ascension, when he said to them, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you”….and then this: “and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” (Mt 28). Then he left them. Some kind of parting words!
But those disciples, feeble and frail and filled with fear as they were prone to be, they went out into the world and witnessed to what had happened. They loved courageously, so much so that they suffered for their faith. They preached and touched and served all over the world. In all of this, they took their risen Lord at His word, that he would indeed always be with them. And so the Church was born. The gospels end, and the Acts of the disciples begin. The story goes on!
Sometime between midnight and the morning of December 4, 1875, the German steamship “Deutschland” ran aground on a shoal 25 miles off the English coast. The steamship immediately began taking on water and gale force winds Brough the sea wall over the sides of the ship. Tragically, 78 lives were lost, among them five Franciscan nuns who had been forced out of Germany. In the way of the tragedy that filled the English news, the poet and priest wrote the poem “The Wreck of the Deutschland”. Towards the end of the poem there is this line: “let Him (Christ) easter in us”.
Here’s an invitation. Beginning next Wednesday evening, April 22, at 7 p.m. we will begin a bible study, reading the book of acts together using ZOOM to help us create community, in hopes that we might wonder together how we can be the church and witness to Christ’s death and resurrection in our time. Watch for more details to come.
Here’s another invitation. Contemplate what it might look like for Christ to “Easter” in you, and all that it means to trust that Jesus is with you always. I’m really missing once each easter when we sing this:
“He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. He lives, he lives, salvation to impart! You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.” (Hymnal 253)
There is nothing, not even a pandemic and all its patterns, that can mute the presence of the Living Christ. Easter is NEVER over! Thanks be to God!