Our neighbor George recently had a conversation with Dean, a village friend. He was asked “does the celebration of Easter really need a Resurrection?” What did you reply, I asked? “Not sure if it was a good response” he added, but I simply said, “What do you mean when you use the word Easter?”

That’s a good question! Easter means different things to different people. For some, Easter has little or nothing to do with a new-life event that happened 2,000 years ago during Passover in Jerusalem. Rather, it is the end of a cold winter and a welcome to a warm spring. For others it is budding trees and blooming flowers. For still others it is family, food, the bunny and the list goes on.


The importance of the Resurrection event of years ago cannot be overemphasized. Theologian N.T. Wright writes, “Take away the stories of Jesus’ birth, and you lose only two chapters of Matthew and two of Luke. Take away the Resurrection, and you lose the entire New Testament and most of the second century-fathers as well.” Pastor Mike Slaughter adds, “The Resurrection was the central, repetitive core theme as the gospel movement spread across Palestine” and the early Christian writer Apostle Paul adds “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”

There are those who seem to “enjoy” debating about the resuscitation of a deceased body or try to defend a miracle that happened 2,000 years ago on a Sunday morning. Our take is that what we proclaim is a mystery that changed and still changes human lives. Writer John Shelby Spong adds, “There is a powerful Easter experience that starts the whole Christian faith, transforms the disciples, changes them from cowards who had forsaken him and fled and brought them back into being heroic followers of this Jesus.”

Sunday, along with millions of others who follow “the way,” we celebrate Easter as the “day of Resurrection.” While it is a day of “alleluias” the danger is that for some Christ-followers we all too often make it a day rather than a way of life.

Just like the season of Advent, which is a time of expectation and a prelude for the Nativity, Lent is a prelude to Resurrection with one major difference. It is a penitential season which means a time for personal reflection and self-examination.

Easter does not belong to the past! Composer Brian Wren in his hymn “Christ is Alive” writes “Not throned a far, remotely high, untouched, unmoved by human pains, but daily, in the midst of life, our Savior in the God-head reigns.” Resurrection belongs and challenges the present. Our celebration of Resurrection needs not only to faithfully remember the past but dictates how we are called to live faithfully now. Slaughter reminds us, “Resurrection faith begins with a renewed way of thinking. Before you can be raised to a new level of life, you have to die to old ways of thinking.”

Let us not forget that Easter is a verb. The gospel accounts of Easter morning are filled with “go quickly,” excitement, people running, people filled with hope that needed to be shared. You can feel the transforming power of the Resurrection that changes us from death to life, from darkness to son-shine.

David Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy wrote, “Almost anything that stands between a person and the transforming presence of the Divine can be seen as a stone in need of being rolled away.” They add that practicing resurrection is “escaping from the circumstances and choices that entomb us and entering into new life here and now.”

Our challenge is to practice resurrection not just to celebrate it. Jesus invites us to have a contemporary encounter with him. Writer and priest Jim Friedrich writes “Easter becomes not a matter of questioning the resurrection but allowing the resurrection to question us. Who are we now and what must we become in the light of the risen Christ?”

Scripture points out that Jesus was concerned about eternal life but even more about eternal life right here. His statement about “the first shall be last the last shall be first” is a reminder that the poor, the marginalized, the dispossessed, the forgotten would all be first in line.

In Orthodox resurrection iconography Friedrich goes on to remind us that “Jesus is never by himself. He is always depicted taking the dead by the hand and pulling them out of their own tombs.” Think about it! Maybe the mission that comes from practicing resurrection is when, empowered by the Easter message, we can reach down and pull others from the tombs of pain, isolation, hurt and fear they are living in right now. Maybe Jesus did not come to make God’s love possible but to make God’s love visible.

Is it possible that a phrase in what we call “The Lord’s Prayer” can challenge us to make God’s love visible in our own lives? — “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” It seems like an impossibility but isn’t our calling to help bring the heavenly kingdom right here on Earth?

How is this accomplished? “Help someone who’s hurting” write Felten and Procter-Murphy. “Open the eyes of love for someone who is blind. Free a captive. Heal a wound. Feed someone who is hungry. Give the gift of yourself — for the gift of who we are was given to us in order to be given away.”

Or let the good news of Matthew guide us to “feed those who are hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger or the migrant in our midst, clothe the naked, provide health care for the sick, visit those incarcerated.” Or talk to one another not at them, or stop tweeting and listen, or build a bridge not a wall, or maybe the best of all, share the good news, and the list goes on.

Let the dialogue continue. Does Easter need a resurrection? For our house the answer is yes! We only ask that you think on these things.