Posts Tagged ‘Easter’

Easter and the Renewal of the Spirit

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013 by Amos Yong

Some say that the renewing work of the Spirit presumes a lukewarmness of sorts or a state of spiritual formalism (one lacking in vitality); only such a condition presumes or requires renewal. Others say that the renewal of the Spirit simply makes new, so that one can go not only from “death” to “life” (a negative to a positive state) but also from one form of life to another (a more or less positive state to another even more positive state). I think the truth is somewhere in between, and this was brought home to me in reflecting on the events of this past Easter weekend.

Jesus’ journey to the cross – was this led by the Spirit or not? Obviously yes – the Spirit led Jesus out into the wilderness and then from there through to Jerusalem and Golgotha – which suggests that the work of the Spirit is not always along the path of prosperity, peace, and blessing! This is especially the case if we also, as Jesus-followers, recognize that part of the call to discipleship is to walk in his footsteps that led to the cross. Yes, Good Friday brings to our remembrance that Christ took up our sins once for all; however, Good Friday also calls us to a renewed commitment to bear the cross of Christ through the valley of the shadow of death in the power of the Spirit.

Easter Sunday, of course, reminds us of the Spirit’s raising Jesus from the dead, thereby making possible also our rising with him over the powers of sin and death. Simultaneously, Easter Sunday also propels our hearts forward, in eager anticipation of the time when sin will finally subdued and death will be no more. Hence our present life in the Spirit unfolds in the light of Easter, but yet also yearning for its fullness of life at the second coming of Christ.

Often forgotten in the Good Friday to Easter Sunday weekend is Holy Saturday. That the renewing work of the Spirit today neither leaves behind Good Friday nor brings about the fullness of God’s new heavens and new earth means that life between the first and second coming of Christ is like that of Holy Saturday. In this liminal state between the resurrected/ascended Christ and his return on a white horse we experience the victory of Christ over sin while longing for the triumph of Christ over death. That we realize the Spirit’s renewing our hearts despite sin gives us assurance that we will undergo the final renewal of eternal life and union with God through the one who raised Jesus from the bonds of the grave.

The church’s liturgical calendar reminds us each year through Good Friday and Easter Sunday of the work of Christ that strengthens our resolve and emboldens our hope. These are also renewing works of the Spirit. The Spirit makes new as each spring time opens us up to a new season in the year. Holy Saturday meant for the disciples of Jesus that his crucifixion was in their past, although they were unsure of what was in their future. Our Holy Saturday invites us to ask once again for the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts so that we can persevere and rejoice in light of the past, and work in expectation of the future. Come Holy Spirit – gives us the means through which to bear witness to the world about why Friday is Good (beyond “TGIF”) but Sunday is coming!

Resurrection Hope: What Easter Means for the Everyday-Life of Christians

Sunday, April 24th, 2011 by Antipas Harris

John 11:25a records Jesus saying, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  In a time of wars, terror threats, various earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, political unrest and social mayhem, it is imperative that preachers emphasize the existential hope extended to humankind in Christ’s resurrection. Year after year, Easter sermons have de-emphasized the bloody cross and the heinous events that constitute the celebration of “Good Friday.” But we must not cater to the romantic end of the story without giving sufficient gaze into the painful process prior to Easter. The actual events prior to Easter impact the hope we find in Easter. Over the anuls of Hebrew history, Jews have celebrated “Passover.” Passover emphasizes the blood of the lamb that gives hope to Israel in the middle of a night of death. Passover in the first century was when Jesus was crucified.

That Passover, moreover, Jesus became the bloody Lamb. He experienced a night of merciless beatings, an unfair trial, a struggle to carry the burden of the cross up Calvary’s hill, a torture of nails, thorns and a piercing in the side. Easter is triumph through death, hell and the grave. Easter is triumph through torture, injustice, pain and agony. Easter, therefore, is life breaking through death, triumphing pain and agony. Easter is victory in spite of oppression. Easter is victory through the cross.

Liberation theologian and archbishop Paulo Evaristo Arns’s article “Easter and the Hope of Victory” sheds light on the existential implications of Easter. Yet, he does not go far enough into the practical dynamics worth exploring.  He writes, “A people liberated from bondage were to remember that God saw their misery and descended to free them in order to give them the possibility of living another social model based upon equality, justice and solidarity. Easter is the memory of the liberating transit of God who of a slave people made a free and equal people.” As we observe our times, watch the news and engage ministry to the broken, one admits that even in the “land of the free and home of the braves” people are not always free. People, here, are not always brave. Over the past 10 years events in our history such as 9/11, other terror attempts, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and oil spills (to name a few) have challenged our freedom and cast a shadow of fear over our former bravery.

A few days ago and in my neighborhood, a young man attempted to rob the bank in the broad daylight. The police caught him. Yet, out of fear for his own life, the police shot the robber and landed him in the hospital. The situation impacted our community such that people are more protective. Unlike the late eighties/early nineties in Manchester, Georgia, I am careful to lock my car and house doors — even in the middle of the day. Things have changed! We seem to fear each other more than we help each other. Read the rest of this entry »