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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Living as an Easter people

‘We are an Easter people and alleluia is our song,’ declared St Augustine. It was a true statement then, and it remains true today.  

But are you and your church family living as Easter people? And what might this ‘alleluia song’ look like in our gathered worship and scattered places? And how do we, as those with whatever kind of church leadership responsibility, help people to make that connection? 

At Easter, we celebrate the risen Christ. Jesus died for our sins and rose again. Death was defeated, hope restored. It changed the world. As his people, our lives are now bound up entirely in the hope that we now have in him. And yet, for so many Christians this life-changing and life-giving truth is often drowned out by the counter claims of the world around us – it’s all too easy to get distracted in our Monday-to-Saturday lives and forget to live out our identity as Easter people.  

Here are some reflections on how we can help our people live as Easter people. 

People of the crucified Christ 

For me, the Good Friday service has always been one of the most important times of the year. Together, as we reflect on Christ’s death, recounting the events of the crucifixion, we’re pointed to the depth of God’s love, the extent of his grace. Before we get to the bright hope of Easter Day, it’s important to linger on Good Friday. This moment reminds us that it was not into an untroubled world that God sent his Son. And it is not an untroubled world we find ourselves in now.  

The cross points us to God’s hatred of sin and evil, its effects on those made in his image, what it does to his world, and what he has done. We worship a Saviour who willingly suffered for us – with us – rather than standing at a distance.  

Whether it’s the frustrations we face at work or when out of work, the sadness of fractured family relationships, or the pressure to conform to our friends’ expectations at parties, the cross speaks powerfully into each one of these situations.  

As church leaders, we’ll know many of the things going on in our congregations’ lives, though many will still be kept beneath the surface. We don’t need to be too specific, but simple prayers or sermon applications that reflect some of these frontlines, that show the message of the cross reaches right into the heart of the shadows in our everyday circumstances, will help make the connections that can often be missed.   

People of the risen Christ 

But we’re not a Good Friday people; we’re an Easter people. And, just as the cross is not the end of the gospel story, so the difficulties our people may face in their everyday places are not the end of their story. The hope of the empty tomb means we believe in a God who is able to do immeasurably more than we can know or believe possible.  

We’re not defined by our circumstances, but rather by the one who is over and above them – the power of the resurrection is always greater. In Ephesians 1:18–21, Paul prays that our eyes would be opened so we might ‘know the hope’ to which he has called us, and ‘the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.’ Remarkably, ‘that power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…’ Pause for a moment and soak up that amazing truth. 

For those going through tough times in their everyday places, whether that’s trying to make ends meet, facing a terminal diagnosis, or simply struggling with the monotony of daily life, the resurrection tells us that God always has the final word. He can be trusted and hope in him is never misplaced. By the power of his Spirit, those who believe in Christ go into every one of those places as people who have received the benefits of Christ’s resurrection.  

The world changed when Jesus rose from the dead. The resurrection of Jesus shows he is Lord over everything. And this truth is as relevant for the good days as well as the difficult ones. His rule over our lives shapes everything. When our frontlines are places of joy, we can see them as such because our hearts and minds are being shaped to see everything through this good news lens: wherever I go, whatever I do, I am an Easter person 

So, as the people in our churches gather to celebrate Good Friday and Easter this year, may we help them make the connections between the circumstances of their everyday, as the places where the truth and power of the cross and resurrection reach right into. Not leaving them at the door as they come in but placing them at the foot of the cross, and looking, hope-filled, to the empty tomb.

 

Rev’d Jules Gadsby
Church Engagement Specialist

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