Now What? An Easter Question

I sometimes wonder if, in the grand scheme of Christian holidays, Easter gets a bit of short shrift. I know, I know, that sounds odd, especially at this time of year. After all, in many ways, we pull out all the stops for our Easter celebration: full choirs, brass, special music, gorgeous flowers decorating the chancel, and more. And yet… And yet, once Easter is over, do we give it much thought? How does the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead shape our decisions, actions, and way of life? Or, for that matter, does the fact that God raised Jesus from the dead shape our decisions, actions, and way of life? I’m not so sure.

Sometimes I think we get so focused on the cross and God’s promise of forgiveness that we overlook, even undervalue, the resurrection. Don’t get me wrong. The cross is central to our faith and forgiveness is absolutely essential to our lives. But the Christian story doesn’t end with Jesus’ death. It continues, indeed reaches its climax, in the resurrection. To put it another way, we are not only freed from sin and guilt by the cross, but we are also freed for lives of courage and confidence through the resurrection.

In an attempt to push us more deeply into the possibilities Easter holds for us, I’m going to ask what I think is a distinctly Easter question: Now what?! Once Easter is over, that is, what will you do?

Before answering, however, consider this: Easter isn’t over! Once Jesus has been raised from the dead, everything is different. At least, if we let sink in what just happened, everything can be different. Keep in mind what we confess on Easter: that God’s love is more powerful than hate, that God’s light is more powerful than the darkness, and that God’s life is more powerful than even death itself. In short, there is nothing that can stop God’s love, light, and life. And knowing that – believing that – makes a difference.

For instance, and building on our Lenten theme, we don’t have to be dominated by fear, because the resurrection demonstrates that God can go with us anywhere – even to the darkest places – and bring us through. There may still be moments when we’re afraid, I know. But each time we feel scared or alone, it will help to remember God’s great love for us, a love that nothing – absolutely nothing – can separate us from.

Which brings me back to my Easter question: Now what? Now what will you do since you know God will always be with you? Now what will you dare to accomplish since you’ve seen the power of God’s love? Now who will you help since you know God loves all people? Now what?

Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with a variety of business consultants who are very good at asking thoughtful, even provocative questions to help their clients look at things from a different vantage point and thereby gain a new perspective. One of my favorites goes like this: What would you try if you knew you couldn’t fail? It’s a good question because it helps us see how much our fears hold us back and opens us up to possibilities we may not even have considered because of our anxiety.

It’s a good question, but one I’d like to tweak just a bit. Because, here’s the thing: we will fail. We will struggle. We will experience setbacks. Easter doesn’t spell the end of challenge or pain or failure or even death. Rather, Easter promises that these things do not and will not have the last word. Jesus is raised from the dead, not exempted from death.

So here’s my favorite consultant question, slightly revised: What would you try, do, and dare if you knew that, even though you may fail, it ultimately doesn’t matter because God is with you and for you and will never let you go?

Now let’s go a little further. What would you have your congregation do in light of Jesus’ triumph over death? What risks shall we take? What bets shall we place? Whom shall we invite and help? What difference do we want our congregation to make in our communities?

These are the kinds of questions we get to ask when we take Easter seriously and realize that Easter isn’t a single celebration, or even a whole season, but rather a way of life. These are the questions we get to answer as we live into the new reality God has created through the promise of resurrection. For once death has been defeated, nothing can hold us back.

And so I’ll ask once more: What now? What will life look like as you go into this new week, month, and year filled with God’s love and light? What will you dare? What will we risk together empowered by God’s love?

I do know that – armed with the promise of resurrection – together we can do something awesome. Because Easter and the power of God’s love changes everything.

Pastor Lose
David J. Lose, Senior Pastor