I can’t shed light on centuries of scriptural interpretation or bring any new understandings to those of you who reflect on Easter’s meaning each and every year and each and every day. But what I can do is tell you what draws me to this holy day and what lesson I take from Christ’s sacrifice and what inspires me about the story of the resurrection.This speech was actually delivered by President Obama (you can find the whole speech here). I'm not going to get political here. I don't agree with everything the President does, but the Bible also admonishes me to obey my leaders and pray for them. There is a lot of propaganda out there trying to get us to live in fear. I've come across many reports on facebook lately that President Obama has canceled the National Day of Prayer. I haven't found anything that validates this claim. Instead, I came across the speech above on the White House website.
For even after the passage of 2,000 years, we can still picture the moment in our mind’s eye. The young man from Nazareth marched through Jerusalem; object of scorn and derision and abuse and torture by an empire. The agony of crucifixion amid the cries of thieves. The discovery, just three days later, that would forever alter our world -- that the Son of Man was not to be found in His tomb and that Jesus Christ had risen.
We are awed by the grace He showed even to those who would have killed Him. We are thankful for the sacrifice He gave for the sins of humanity. And we glory in the promise of redemption in the resurrection.
And such a promise is one of life’s great blessings, because, as I am continually learning, we are, each of us, imperfect. Each of us errs -- by accident or by design. Each of us falls short of how we ought to live. And selfishness and pride are vices that afflict us all.
It’s not easy to purge these afflictions, to achieve redemption. But as Christians, we believe that redemption can be delivered -- by faith in Jesus Christ. And the possibility of redemption can make straight the crookedness of a character; make whole the incompleteness of a soul. Redemption makes life, however fleeting here on Earth, resound with eternal hope.
Of all the stories passed down through the gospels, this one in particular speaks to me during this season. And I think of hanging -- watching Christ hang from the cross, enduring the final seconds of His passion. He summoned what remained of His strength to utter a few last words before He breathed His last breath.
“Father,” He said, “into your hands I commit my spirit.” Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. These words were spoken by our Lord and Savior, but they can just as truly be spoken by every one of us here today. Their meaning can just as truly be lived out by all of God’s children.
So, on this day, let us commit our spirit to the pursuit of a life that is true, to act justly and to love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord. And when we falter, as we will, let redemption -- through commitment and through perseverance and through faith -- be our abiding hope and fervent prayer.
Following Christ's crucifixion, many of the disciples lived in fear. The person they believed to be their messiah was dead and they were afraid of government. Then the resurrected Christ appeared. His words, as are common throughout the Bible, were for the disciples to not be afraid. In our current world climate, there seems to be a lot of fear.
Resurrection living means living in hope, not fear. It means, as the President reminded us with the words of Micah 6:8, "to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God." Let us act judgmentally, buying into hate and walking in fear. Let us walk in God's light.
*For more thoughts on Resurrection Living (without any politics involved), here's a piece I wrote for our church's blog: Resurrection Life.