Monday, April 9, 2012

Chirist IS risen! (Present Tense)

In the Episcopal Church during Holy Eucharist we bless and give bread and wine in thanks for the sacrifice that Jesus made for the world. During the Great Thanksgiving, we proclaim the mystery of faith, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” It’s easy to overlook the fact that the verbs go from past tense, to present tense, to future tense. Maybe that’s just what the writers thought would sound good. But there is real meaning in the way  those statements are written.

Taking this response section by section, it describes plainly and revolutionarily how we as Christians should view our worship during communion.  Every time we share communion, we are participating in the entirety of Christ’s message and ministry. The liturgy takes us step by step through the Last Supper, by inviting us to relive in that moment the time and place where Christ broke bread and shared the wine, commanding the disciples to do the same in remembrance of him. It is only after we have recalled and lived through that moment that our statement “Christ has died” takes us from the Upper Room to the Cross.

The next affirmation is the cornerstone of Christian life. “Christ is risen”.  The implications of this brief statement are remarkable. The statement is not “Christ has risen.” If it were that, we would just be recalling the event in the way that it had happened and we have read it in the scriptures. No, by affirming that “Christ is risen,” we are invited in that very moment, at that precise time, to experience the resurrection. Every time we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, it is Easter again: It IS happening, right now, says the liturgy.

That what we say on Sundays, but it means something far greater for our lives outside church doors. If we can move through and live through the ministry of Christ, the Last Supper, the Cross, the Resurrection inside the service, we must strive to do the same in our “outside” lives. When we wake up in the morning, Christ IS risen. When we drive to work or school, Christ IS risen. When we help our friends, Christ IS risen. When we hurt one another, Christ IS risen. When we feel like giving up, Christ IS risen. Every single moment in our lives as Christians is a declaration that Christ is risen. It is for every moment of our lives that Christ gave his life - and gives it again and always.

Thanks to Margaret Blount Montgomery who inspired this reflection.