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“Christ is Risen! Alleluia!”

Easter Rose

Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Christ is Risen indeed. Alleluia.

This is the age-old cry Christians have been making for nearly two millennia, ever since word first spread that death could not hold onto God’s chosen One. To those of us who have grown up in the church, the Easter acclamation is as familiar as it is ancient.

Yet lately I have wondered whether we say it too easily and too quickly.

Have you ever noticed, for instance, that this was decidedly not the first response of Jesus’ earliest followers? In fact, whatever differences in detail or theme the four evangelists present in their stories of Christ’s cross and resurrection, they are uniform in their description that the news of Jesus’ triumph over the grave was met initially not with shouts of acclamation and praise but rather with skepticism, doubt, and disbelief. Take Luke’s account that many of us heard read yesterday at our Easter service. Not only do the disciples dismiss the witness of the women who were greeted by angels with the news of Christ’s resurrection, but even after Jesus meets them in the flesh they believed he was a ghost and continued to doubt and wonder as they were simultaneously overcome by joy.

Why was it so difficult for Jesus’ earliest followers – those who knew him most intimately and had heard him speak of his death and resurrection on several occasions – to believe their own eyes? Simply because death and fear were so omnipresent in their lives that they had a hard time believing God could overcome them. In short, they were too mired in the destruction that attends the fallen creation to see and grasp God’s wondrous act of re-creation and renewal.

Such is also often the case, I would suggest, with us. Many will leave the joy of Easter services only to return home to headlines about terrorism, difficulties in relationships at work or home, or fear for a loved one struggling with addiction. And these omnipresent realities can overwhelm us to the point that while we confess that Christ is risen at church, we live in the world as if he had remained in the tomb.

Which is why I wonder if we utter the words of the ancient acclamation too easily. For the cry that “Christ is Risen” is not only a confession about something that happened long ago, it is also testimony to our confidence that God’s love continues to transform the world, that fear is not the dominant reality in our world, and that death is no match for the abundant life Christ brings.

So in the weeks to come, pause before you join your voice to those around you to contemplate the fierce courage of believers who have confessed that God’s love and life are stronger than hate, fear, or death. And then say those words with abandon, trusting that God continues to create light from darkness and breathe life where death once dominated.

But don’t stop only at church. When you watch fearsome headlines, say those words again. And when you struggle with a relationship or worry about a loved one, repeat them silently to yourself. These words were not meant to adorn our liturgy but to transform our lives. For Easter not only marks Jesus’ triumph over the grave but also invites us to enter into an entirely new reality where God’s grace makes all things possible, where the future is forever open, and where life and light promise to illumine even the darkest of roads.

For Christ is risen, alleluia!
Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia and thanks be to God.

Yours in Christ and with gratitude for your support of LTSP and ministry in the world,

David Lose Signature
David Lose, President

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"Centered in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia seeks to educate and form public leaders who are committed to developing and nurturing individual believers and communities of faith for engagement in the world."