Bishop Mark Hanson: News Too Good Not to Share

Jesus' death, resurrection puts us in thick of life

So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean (Mark 9:10).

When Jesus told his disciples that he was going to Jerusalem to undergo great suffering, be killed and after three days rise again, they were bewildered and silent. "What is this rising from the dead?" they asked.

The disciples' question becomes our question. It is a question whose answer has consequences for us and for the world.

And it makes a difference what sort of rising from the dead we are talking about. Despite everything we say about God's grace, is this rising an individual's reward for being a person with the right beliefs, the right moral conduct, the right attitudes rightly expressed?

Or is this rising from the dead - the life of Jesus Christ, God's own life, busting out of sin and death's captivity into the world - to renew its freedom, its hope and love? Imagine the power in the promise of this rising from the dead.

Because Christ is risen from the dead into the resurrected life, you can embrace life's complexities and uncertainties with a living, daring confidence in God's grace. Such faith, said Martin Luther, frees us without compulsion to gladly receive everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything out of love and praise of God. 

Because Christ is risen, you have a word of hope for those weary from mourning and worrying. You need not fear death, for nothing in all creation will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Because Christ is risen, there is a word of promise for those who live in fear and feel unworthy. You are "no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:19-20).

The risen Christ shows up wherever the word is proclaimed, bread and wine shared, and baptismal waters poured. Through faith, we become the body of the risen Christ for the life of the world.

What sort of rising from the dead will it mean for us as a church that, as I have heard it said, "has bet the farm on the promise of Christ's resurrection?" Will we be a church through whom the Spirit unleashes the life of Jesus Christ into the world? What does it mean for the pastor's proclamation? What does Jesus risen from the dead mean for where we show up as a church in our communities? 

We are a church that is energized by lively engagement in our faith and life. "Our faith is a living, busy, active, mighty thing," Luther said. We continually strive for a deeper understanding of what the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ means for the world. Doing so puts us right where God wants us to be: in the thick of life. 

At the barriers we erect to divide us, the risen Christ meets us, turning those walls into tables of reconciliation. What a powerful witness in a divided and distrusting world.

Every morning you awaken with the mark of Jesus' death on your forehead and the promise of Christ's resurrection on your lips. The news is too good to keep to ourselves. Christ is risen! Alleluia!

[Taken with permission from the April issue of The Lutheran magazine.]