Mar31WedFor a band of confused and despairing followers, the Resurrection of Jesus signalled a new dawn. March 31, 2021 by Commissioner Floyd Tidd
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
Twelve months ago, we celebrated Easter in the shadow of the pandemic. Again, this year, across the globe we are preparing for this sacred time under varying degrees of COVID-19 restrictions. In addition to the pandemic, the world has been rocked by natural disasters, political turmoil and racial injustice. Grief, illness, unemployment and family breakdown have impacted so many people. How do we celebrate in such a time?
Despite our difficult circumstances, when we hear once more the message of Easter we can hope again. We celebrate that hope lives! On that first Easter morning, for a band of confused and despairing followers, hope rose again with the Resurrection of Jesus. Easter left the followers of Christ a changed people. The Apostle Peter later wrote of being born anew “into a living hope through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). It was this hope that changed the picture of failure, fear and flight into a new image of a dynamic band of followers of the risen Christ, marching forward, confident and determined, carrying a message of hope for a desperate world.
On the morning of the third day after the Crucifixion and burial of Jesus, the disciples stood before an empty grave. Just when they thought everything had fallen away, hope was reborn. William Burrows in All Things New writes that Easter was “not only the assurance that the cause was not lost—but that it was eternal.” The Resurrection confirmed for the disciples every teaching and promise of Jesus, not just for them but for generations to come. This hope springs eternal for all who would believe the message of Jesus. This living hope rises above the circumstances in which we may find ourselves.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor and theologian, knew, taught and lived the truth of this hope in a challenging time in the history of Germany and the church. Bonhoeffer was imprisoned following the disclosure of his underground seminary and involvement in anti-Nazi activity and opposition to Hitler. Nevertheless, this living hope never failed him. In the lead up to his execution at Flossenbürg concentration camp, he wrote: “It is from the Resurrection of Christ that a new and purifying wind can blow through our present world. Here is the answer to ‘Give me a place to stand and I will move the earth.’ If a few people really believed that and acted on it in their daily lives, a great deal would be changed. To live in the light of the Resurrection—that is what Easter means.”
This Easter we choose celebration amid all that our world is experiencing, with an awareness that a new and purifying wind is blowing through our present situation. The Resurrection of Jesus changes everything. It did for the disciples standing before the empty tomb. It did for Bonhoeffer. The Resurrection of Jesus continues to change things today. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul reminds us that the same great power God exerted when he raised Christ from the dead is available to all who believe. This resurrection power is greater than anything that would seek to rob you of the hope that God makes available in Christ. It changes everything.
In the face of all of today’s trials, we can choose to hope again. In years past, we gathered together in person to celebrate God’s great love, Christ’s triumph over death and the grave, and the Spirit’s presence and power for believers today. In that coming together, hope was shared. Even in these COVID-restricting days where our worship may look different, there are those “near” you who are looking for hope. We have the hope that “does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). I pray we will open our eyes and hearts to allow that living hope to overflow from our lives so that others might hope again.
Commissioner Floyd Tidd is the territorial commander of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.
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