Easter marks a celebration of faith and hope in our lives and in the life of our churches. This celebration is a reminder of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many questions about the resurrection of Jesus Christ have been a matter of theological discussion for years. But one thing is true: the disciples were heartbroken because of the way Jesus was sentenced and put to death on a cross. The rabbi who taught them so many things and who challenged the status quo of an unjust society had paid the ultimate price. The cross would not have any meaning without the resurrection; on the other hand, there could not have been a resurrection without the cross.
Easter celebrates the gift of life for many of our churches. A church might celebrate Easter because it is in a very good situation programmatically or financially, or because it is in a growth trend that could be the result of a renewed ministry. It is always good to celebrate faithfulness and to respond to God's call to do God's mission. It is good to celebrate faith.
Easter is a celebration of hope for many other churches: hope for a better future; a way to get out of sluggishness; a way to see the light at the end of the tunnel, or a way to pay a pastor. Their communities have changed. Younger generations are moving to different places and the energy to start anew is not there anymore. Easter is a celebration of hope for unseen blessings and for the day when their community of faith can turn around. It is good to celebrate hope and faith.
We sometimes forget that there are people in different parts of our worldwide Christian community where Easter has yet to come. The same unjust conditions of exploitation, oppression and discrimination that took Jesus Christ to the cross are still present today. In a world made small by the technological and communication advances of capitalist countries, we still see the plague of poverty, hunger, sickness, homelessness, and abandonment. Even though Easter has yet to come for many, still they live their faith as a celebration of hope. They await the day of resurrection, the day when God will raise them from death. It is good to celebrate hope.
If Easter brought renewed faith and hope to the disciples, in spite of their most precious loss, it also can renew our faith and our hope in a resurrected world of love, justice and peace. Celebrate Easter in faith and in hope!
The Rev. José Abraham De Jésus is Team Leader of the UCC's Worship and Education Ministry Team in Local Church Ministries. Focus on Faith is a reader-written column to help readers grow in their faith. We welcome contributions from laity and clergy.