This past Sunday was Easter, or Resurrection Sunday. The resurrection of Jesus, after he was killed by religious and political leaders of his day, is the central event of the Christian faith. In fact, it’s fair to say that the Church is based not strictly speaking on a set of beliefs, but on this event. Without the resurrection, there is no Church.
This is the event that so radically changed the lives of a handful of mostly unknown women and men, living in first century Palestine, that they became a movement that changed the world forever. It’s the resurrection of Jesus from the dead more than anything that helped them believe that what Jesus did and taught, that how he was in the world really is the will and way of God—what God wants for all things. It’s the seal on the promise that God is so determined to get the world that God wants—a world that teems with life, is eager for justice, and joyful in flourishing relationships—that not even death can stand in the way.
We read in the Book of Acts that the resurrection kickstarted a revolution. Jesus’ disciples became an alternative community, committed to love, justice, and righteousness (right relationships). They embodied a wildly new way of being together, and in the world, that was full of what St. Paul call’s the "Fruit of the Spirit": love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
Of course, the resurrection is hard to believe and understand. And it’s good to know that the Bible makes clear that it was just as hard to believe and understand when it happened as it is now. Nobody expected it, nobody was ready for it. But when they experienced it, they knew the world was different. The systems and structures, the violence and fear, the brokenness and death-dealing ways of the world were shown not to be enough to stop God’s way of love, in the body of Jesus—once dead, now alive. And that empowered his followers, and every generation of saints since then, to choose his way of grace and mercy, forgiveness and compassion, love and generosity (even for enemies!) no matter what, and come what may. They new that sin and death would not get the last word on them, or on the world; but love and life will.
That’s why we come back, year after year, to celebrate, sing, and meditate on this world-inverting event that happened almost 2000 years ago. Each year we are reminded us that we too are called to share in the work of love of God and neighbour, justice and righteousness, with everything we’ve got. Or, to paraphrase Shane Claiborne, we get to dance the dance of Jesus, even if it gets us crucified, because we know we’ll rise to dance again.
God give us grace and guts.