Reflections on the Resurrection
In my world I’m often being bombarded with forms to fill out. People want information about you every time you apply for something. We have all different ways of defining ourselves. For example, male or female, Norwegian or I’m sorry you’re not, Caucasian, Latino, Asian and of course there is always “other”, whatever that means. Other way to define ourselves, could be Lutheran, New Yorker, expatriate. Some of my less than religious friends may call themselves Agnostic or even Atheist.
Self definition is an interesting concept. I wonder how many of us would define themselves as people of the resurrection? I was interested to read Bishop Hansen’s Easter letter to the church at large. He was talking about the country of Haiti. Haiti to me seems like a godforsaken place, if there ever was one. It seems to be right in the site of every hurricane that blows through the Caribbean. It’s people always seem to be victimized by bad government and corrupt officials that make this country seem out of control and unmanageable.
I was recently watching an episode of “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel where Anthony Bourdain took his show to Haiti where he was as shocked as everyone to see how horrible the conditions are there. Interestingly enough, Sean Penn has spent a lot of his own money and the past year trying to help out this country. While he has done a lot of good, you often feel numb by the fact that there is so much poverty, sickness, corruption, death and destruction. The latest earthquake just added to the curse that Haiti seems to experience as almost part of it’s destiny.
What I found striking about Bishop Hansen’s letter was his quote from the president of the Lutheran church of Haiti, Pastor Josephus Livenson Lauvanus. As he and Bishop Hansen walk through the devastation of Haiti’s earthquake, Pastor Lauvanus proclaimed, “we will not be defined by rubble, but restoration, for we are the people of the resurrection.”
Isn’t that the Easter message? As believers, we do not have to define ourselves by our sins, our mistakes, our despair or our depression. According to the Christian proposal to the world, we are people of the resurrection. The resurrection of our Lord defines us as it has defined our church from the beginning.
Many may think that Christmas is the most important holiday of the Christian faith, but in reality it was not celebrated until centuries afterward. What started the Christian faith, defined it and started the church, was Easter. Without the resurrection, there would not be a church because Jesus’ disciples would have packed it in and gone home. It was a resurrection that sparked a hope, that opened a door and it inspired all who followed him to begin a community centered around the resurrection.
What defines our church and us is our faith that makes us hopeful people who against all odds will not be defined by death, despair or tragedy. Resurrection becomes a last word – a word of hope to the whole community that new life, and forgiveness defines who we are as the people of God. So in the end, the resurrection of our Lord says “Love is stronger than hate and life will overcome death into eternity.”