Thank you for the invitation to join with us in worship and Bible study over the next three weeks. I truly look forward to sharing this time with you. For the 40 days of Lent we chose to once again walk with Jesus in his journey to Jerusalem, the cross, and to the resurrection tomb. When we engage in this journey purposefully, it invites us to hear the urgency in Jesus’ voice. He tried to prepare his disciples for what awaited him, but they struggled to understand. When they entered Jerusalem with Jesus and heard the shouts of the crowd and later followed Jesus into the Temple Court and watched Jesus turn over the tables of the money changers. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet and presented them the cup and the bread – transforming it into symbols of salvation. The gospel narrative moves us from the Upper Room to the Garden; from the Garden to scenes of that made a mockery of any sense of justice and truth. Finally, we find ourselves at the foot of the cross at Calvary, wandering in darkness of death, and finally to the resurrection tomb. In one moment, it is both a spiritually exhausting and spiritually exhilarating. The good news is that we knew that love and grace wins in the end even as we walked the Lenten path. When the last word of the benediction in yesterday’s Easter worship service was spoken, we instantly moved from the Lenten journey to again striving to live as an Easter people.
What do you think it means to live as an Easter people? What does it look like in your life and faith? It is so tempting to be consumed by a problem in our life, or in the life of one we love. It is so easy to become distracted by the latest story emerging from the news. We find ourselves living in a broken world surrounded by the concerns that besiege us. The result can be a life shaped by worry and a way of fear that can cheat us from experiencing the life of faith and joy that God intends for us.
As an Easter people we are witnesses of the power of life over death, of grace over sin, of love over the hate and bitterness. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are called to live into a life drenched in forgiveness and defined by redemption. As an Easter people we care called to live bold lives of hope and faith as a witness of God’s love to those around us. The power of God is on display in Easter people. Do those words describe your way of life. If so, hallelujah! If not, let’s encourage each other – pray for one another – cheer for one another as we live out our lives of faith together.
Over the next three Sundays we are going to be looking at three post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. In each encounter Jesus had something important to share with those early disciples – and with us. I look forward to sharing these days together.
Grace and Peace, Dr. Tom Ogburn