The traditional greeting at the beginning of worship in the season of Easter us usually something like: Christ is Risen! With the response: He is Risen. Indeed. At times people tack on an Alleluia that response. This Easter season we have been trying on another response so that the whole things sounds like this: P - Christ is Risen! C – Just look around! To which we have also added the gesture of pointing fingers indiscriminately around the worship space. Why! It has to do with the resurrection being a life – a life that is right around us – a life that is us. We can, as a Sunday School topic notes: Practice Resurrection.
Resurrection happened to the disciple who were being ruled by fear until Jesus comes into the room and invites them into the boldness of life that comes when ordinary folks are raised up to new life. It is a common as baptism. It is baptism as it is experienced as a way of life and not something that is done to us or we have decided to accept. Resurrection follows death and refuses to continue to live within the powers of death that seem to have a gripe on us and will not let go.
When folks say they do not believe in the resurrection it may be that they have not seen it happen right in the middle of an ordinary day. People who resist evil and the common and acceptable ways of violence are always present. Too often we do not see that as resurrection. To be nonviolent – to be endlessly forgiving – to be wildly merciful – to be advocates for justice and peace take a resurrection into new life. Otherwise, we hold onto all the same old stuff that turns people into victims and uses the words and devices of the world to continue life as it always has been.
So, just look around and see how the lives of the people around you may just be the life that comes to people who have been grasped by a life that seems to show off the character of God’s Reign right in the middle of our everyday world. Isn’t that the way of Jesus? A common person with no credential and no wealth or status that met the standards of the world and yet – there he was, living a new life in the face of violence, envy, anxiety, and all the powers that steal away life. Christ is Risen and by that, we become a part of the ordinary folk of humanity taking on the extraordinary role of God’s beloved Reign.
Just look around!
Welcome means welcome. All means all. Beloved means beloved. Forgiven means forgiven. In the world of American Christianity, those words are quite common, but each one can be dropped or burdened with conditions. When the love of God that knows no limit cannot be contained by the conditions humanity loves to place on all things, it is truly a love that will not let us go. This is a rare love . . . it is a costly love . . . it is a bold and upfront love for all.
When we hear about such a love, we must not let it go sour. That is, we must not let its character be changed into something it is not. When we hear about the Good News but it seems to be held back from some people, we must hold that kind of "news" suspect. Too often, popular religious movements put together some fine music, great organizational prowess, and dynamic oratory, yet they quickly drop or limit the expansive nature of God’s grace. Welcome becomes a word limited to some. All becomes merely all of us. Beloved becomes a label we must keep earning. Forgiveness becomes loaded with fine print.
Well-greased and dynamic organizations that appear to serve great numbers of people can be a wonderful sight. But when that service to others lacks an unbounded grace that boldly serves without condition, we must risk saying that such service is not "Good News" at all. It is simply the same old model of business and success that has been shaped by a culture of conditions, rewards, bias, and self-justification.
If we are afraid to trust this available character of our God, why should we say that we honor and love God and neighbor? It is important to be utterly upfront about the foundation upon which we stand when we say we are followers of Jesus. We serve the world well if we are bold and upfront about our welcome, love, and forgiveness for all—no conditions.