We are Easter people. Those words have become much more meaningful to me over the past several years.
Certainly we believe in the resurrection, celebrate Easter, and tell the Easter story. The real test is whether we live as Easter people. Do we live knowing that love is stronger than hate, the final victory has already been decided and Jesus is victorious, and sin and death have been stripped of their power? Easter people face each day as a new opportunity to serve God and their neighbors and experience the joy that God intended from the very beginning of creation.
Some days I wonder if I am the only person in the world that believes the final victory belongs to God. The newspaper and television news carry messages of how bad things are and predict that life is only going to be harder and more difficult in the future. I begin to feel like Elijah who ran away, dwelt in the desert, and felt like God deserted him. In such moments I try to recall the Congolese people walking miles to attend worship, singing and dancing as they bring their pennies down the aisle to place them in the morning offering. I remember sitting under a tarp in Mozambique and hearing the congregation shout for joy as they turned the soil in preparation for building a church facility where they would be protected from the rain during the rainy season. I realize that I am not alone. There are thousands, even millions of people who get up every day and can shout out, “Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!” I am surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses, both living and deceased, who are Easter people.
Easter people look and see the glass of water is not half-empty, but rather, the glass is half-full. They have a hope that is grounded not in what they can accomplish, what they can dream and envision, or what they can bring to fruition. Rather, they have a hope that is grounded in what God has done and continues to do in the world today. They know how the story ends. God creates a new heaven and a new earth. Those who are faithful gather in worship and adoration at the throne of God. Evil is defeated. Death lost its power. They are welcomed into God’s kingdom.
Therefore, we can live each day with confidence and hope. Nothing in all of creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. The living Lord, Jesus dwells with us now and forever.
We are Easter people.
Now I ask you, what do you see in the coming year in your congregation, in your personal spiritual growth and development? Is the future filled with hope or despair? What do you see as the future of The United Methodist Church? Is the future filled with hope or despair?
It is time for us to move from being people who believe in the resurrection, celebrating the resurrection, and proclaiming the resurrection to becoming Easter people who are living the resurrection.