This season on the church calendar is always a highlight for me. It's more spiritually rich than Advent, maybe because Advent is always so BUSY. With Easter, there isn't as much fluff around the season, and in fact, there's a deeper, richer reflection of the season through the Lenten preparation. Under Kerry Reekie's initiative, we recruited a bunch of GRCers for a 40-day fast during which some of us fasted 1 day a week, AND many more of us gave something up for the entire 40 days. Mondays (usually - sometimes I had to shift!) took on a whole new dimension for me this Lent. Through the discipline, I was 'forced' to focus more fully on my idolatry of comfort and pleasure through food/drink. And 'forced' (really enabled!) to see more clearly my need of God's grace poured out through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You may be tired of hearing me say this, but Good Friday is truly my favorite service of the year because of its laser-focus and depth and reflection-inspiring mood (By the way, what did you think of the candles and lighting this year?). And Easter Sunday is an awesome celebration of Praise and Worship of the Risen King!
But Easter, and perhaps a week of vacation for you, have come and gone. What now? Back to 'normal' life? The drudgery of the rest of life? Ironically, in liturgical traditions, the Church calendar labels the weeks between Christmas and Ash Wednesday, and then the weeks after Pentecost (May 27th this year) and Advent, as "Ordinary Time." But... I want to argue, living in light of Easter-Resurrection, and living WITH Easter-Resurrection Power, are far from ordinary! The whole point of Easter and the empty tomb and the Risen Savior is that nothing is the same! Everything has changed! Resurrection Power - thy same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Ephesians 1:18-20 - see the sermon from January 29th here) is at work in all who believe in this Jesus!
How? Where? Let me share with you some real examples from within our GRC community:
Over the past several months, I've been involved in two of the most difficult and trying marital counseling situations in my pastoral career. But praise God! In one marriage, the husband testifies that for the first time in many years of marriage, he and his wife are reading the Bible together; praying together; repenting of sin and asking forgiveness of the Lord and of one another. Sin patterns that were never admitted, are now being openly addressed. And a marriage is being healed miraculously, before our very eyes, after being on the brink of divorce. THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS NOTHING LESS THAN RESURRECTION POWER AT WORK!!!!
In another marriage, there is still difficulty and pain. There have been frustrated and upset emails shared with me (and directed at me in response to Gospel-truth aimed at their hearts). But there has been softness of heart in direct response to the prayers of the saints, no doubt in my mind. There has been an admission of sin patterns, of wrong against the other. THAT, AS WELL, IS NOTHING LESS THAN RESURRECTION POWER! Make no mistake: there is much work, and much prayer, and much repentance yet to be done. But when hearts are changed, we rejoice and praise the God of resurrection.
If that were not enough, on Easter Sunday, two members of our church invited/hosted a mutual friend who was not a follower of Jesus (see below also). After attending the first service, he stuck around with his friends who discerned that he was ready to profess faith, grabbed a pastor to help out, and together led him to fresh faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. New Life on Resurrection Day!!! The giving of spiritual life is EXACTLY what Easter is all about. And we were privileged to have it manifested in our very sanctuary, through the caring invitation and attention of church members, through the witness of the believing community. AMEN!!!
So how do you pursue or access Resurrection Power?
1) You pray. No dead person can raise him or herself. Only the sovereign God can do it. So we appeal to him to pour out His Spirit, to apply Resurrection Power in & through us.
2) You trust. The Father raised Jesus as the firstfruits. That sets the pattern; that reveals His heart; that guarantees the harvest of ALL His people.
3) You invite/love/care. The way the world sees Christ is through His people and by His Word. Our new brother in Christ SAW Jesus because two friends simply took the step of inviting him to Easter services. In Mark 2:1-12, a paralytic is healed by Jesus. But it took the action of four of his friends to BRING him to Jesus. All of us can do that.
4) You read/believe. All of the promises of this Resurrection-God are found in the Scriptures. Read, meditate, memorize and claim these promises that God has revealed to us, mercifully and generously!
Basking in Resurrection Power,