Many years ago, I was engaged in a program that taught catechists (Sunday school teachers) how best to understand how and what they taught their students. In the course of one class discussion, Tom, a middle-aged gentleman, lamented that catechism classes used to be simple. Students memorized the answers to various questions so that when queried by the bishop at their confirmation, they would know the accepted answer. Familiar with this complaint, I asked the class of adults a simple question: “What is a sacrament?” They looked sheepish and puzzled wondering what answer would be acceptable to me, their mentor. Finally, I said to them, “C’mon! You know the answer . . . a sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ . . . .” They all smiled, breathed a sigh of relief, and felt vindicated in their complaint. But then, I asked another question, “All right, now what does that mean?”
Therein is the tough thing about Easter. When asked about Easter, we are eager to repeat what we may have learned: it is the day when we celebrate Christ’s rising from the dead. Yet the challenge for us is always the next question, “But what does that mean?”
How would you describe the meaning of Easter to a group of young and eager faces? To questioning teens? To adults for which memorized answers no longer suffice?
I think we all approach Easter like the first disciples, in a spirit of confusion and near disbelief. At first, those who were closest to Jesus failed to understand the meaning behind this glorious miracle. Only later, with the coming of the Spirit of Wisdom and Knowledge, the Spirit of Understanding and Fear of the Lord, did they begin truly to piece it all together. So, too, we need to piece things together anew – to discover the power and impact of the Resurrection in our individual and communal lives all over again.
So . . . what does it mean for you to share in the risen life of our Savior? What did Christ’s triumph over sin and death do for us here and now? No complex theological answers allowed! Take some time this Eastertide to look at our lives and discover what is different about us because we have been redeemed “by the blood of the Lamb” and invited to share the life of the Risen One.
A tall order, this. For now, though, let us simply bask in the light and rest in the joy that comes to us because of Easter. Let us rejoice in the message that “He is risen. He is risen, indeed!”
“Be not afraid, the one for whom you look is not here. He is risen and has gone ahead of you . . . “
Let us rise and go to find him with open and joyful hearts.
With every wish for a truly joyous Easter, I remain
The Rev’d Dr. David Alan ZwifkaRector