Easter day +1 Spot The Difference?

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Easter monday is upon us and I wonder what yours looks like? Have you begun to devour your egg shaped mountains of chocolate, or perhaps catch up on world news, as ever peppered with riots, military action and poverty. Whether or not you are relaxing or busying yourself, or perhaps spending time in prayer.  For me at least I find myself questioning what difference has Jesus rising from the dead 2014 years ago brought to bear on the world! Sometimes it is hard to see if jesus’ resurrection makes any difference at all, not least in the midst of national and global issues, but even within denominations and churches and personal squabbles against the backdrop of theological or Theo-political viewpoints.

If resurrection day did not happen the world would probably barely know the person of Jesus of Nazareth, He would at best have been relegated to an ancient mythical age of history at the time of Troy, Mary of RomeEmperor Augustus, and Josephus. Jesus may have made it into Wikipedia entry based on his teachings and assertions. Maybe you would find the odd statue, or a museum exhibition dedicated to Jesus’s life and work somewhere near Jerusalem. For certain some people might have tried to hold onto their faith post Jesus death, but would probably have been regarded as a weird Jewish sect. Except the people as known back then as The Way, grew in faith not shrank and claimed and still claim to have a living real, tangible experience of Jesus in and became known as christians!

I have been celebrating easter in a meaningful way as a christian since I was sixteen some twenty-three years ago. I have sympathy for the viewpoint that the resurrection of Jesus barley turns a head or touches a heart at least in my cultural context. Except I don’t know if you are compelled to acts of grace and mercy because you’re kind or because the spirit of God gives you a nudge. But why is it that when street pastors are out on the street, the police notice a calming influence on the nights revellers, and in some places a reduction in crime, it could be coincidence of course or the power of prayer. What about if you leave some money or a purse at christian functions 99% of the time you will get it back. It was christians who largely initiated education and healthcare systems back in the day because they recognised its need, and more recently in response to the poverty they see around them, christians are heavily involved in the creation of food banks in the UK. There are so called christians who use these Jesus communities which we call Church for their own ends and for abusive reasons, but they are in the minority and indeed tarnish our religious and institutional reputations.

The difference that Jesus’s resurrection makes to society is not always obvious or clear, because it is difficult to separate religiosity from the simple faith that Gods son rose from the dead for you and me. That the things or sin that make it impossible for us to enter into heaven might be cleared away. May our lives before we ascend the heavenly staircase, be a tapestry living faith in the light, and reality, of resurrection day? Indeed live faithful lives loving our neighbour at least as much as we claim to love God, not getting sidetracked by scriptural minutiae, mundane religiosity, or hopeless arguments that this side of glory will never be answered to our personal satisfaction.

I am not diminishing the importance of scholarly debate far from it, or healthy discussion and disagreement between friends, but some of the answers we seek won’t be found now, but the answer to the question did Jesus rise from the dead is before us and what is its value in society, it appears at least for me in my 23rd year of following Jesus to be more true and meaningful than when I first became a follower. I see his resurrection affecting the lives of some, bringing hope security to the dying, and purpose and promise to those who know him. I see what motivates my congregations to care, love and serve their church and community sacrificially, not expecting anything in return. I hear the impassioned pleas on behalf of the poor, impoverished and broken, by men and women of God rooted in the understanding and belief, that God so loved the world that he gave his only son that all, and I mean all may know the depth, breadth, and love of God through his son Jesus Christ. Who I am sure will have a long list of questions to answer and with those questions and eternity in which to answer them.

So live today and tomorrows, tomorrows as easter day +1 in all the awe, wonder, worship, brilliance and giddiness that might bring, as we unashamedly live out our faith, not expecting or manipulating a response other than perhaps putting a smile on someones face, and being a genuine blessing to others, on behalf of others, willing for them the best life ever.

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