This April, as you prepare your heart and mind to celebrate Easter, we pray that you’ll be encouraged and draw closer to our Saviour through this special devotion series “Before the Cross”. Every week, we’ll feature inspiring messages from BUV leaders and this week, you’ll hear from Rev David Devine, Head of Church Health and Capacity Building, BUV, about the The Easter Sunday Headline.
Week 4: The Easter Sunday Headline by Rev David Devine, Head of Church Health and Capacity Building, BUV
An intersection of the Church’s liturgical calendar and time provisions in the Australian Constitution has meant that we find ourselves celebrating this Easter in the middle of a Federal Election campaign. Some may begrudge the interruption of the sacred by the secular, or vice versa. Some political parties have been keen to show respect for religious sensitivities by suspending campaigning on the `holy days’. Perhaps even some non-believers will be glad for that brief respite from the politicking!
Contrary to these views, I welcome this year’s coincidence of Easter and Election because it offers an opportunity to recognize and reflect on one of the central messages of Easter – the big news of Easter Sunday.
What is that headline news?
Reflecting on Jesus’ resurrection, we often regard it as proof of life after death or a promise of eternal destiny. It is comforting to have such hope, particularly if we find ourselves walking in the valley of shadows, watching loved ones suffering or grieving our loss of them. The Resurrection of Jesus provides a solid basis for such hope.
But Easter offers more than a reassuring proof or comforting promise of life after death. The main response of the early witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus was not about death nor their destiny; it was about Him. Not, `Hooray, we will go to Heaven when we die!’, but `Hallelujah, Jesus Christ is Lord!’
On a personal level, Thomas’ doubting gave way to worship: `My Lord and my God!’
In the centre of the Jewish capital, Peter boldly declared: `God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ!’
Writing to an emerging church located at the heart of Imperial Rome, Paul began with the good news that Jesus had been marked out as the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead.
The resurrection was God’s declaration that Jesus Christ is supreme over all, including individuals, the Jewish religious establishment, Imperial Rome and even Death.
The Federal Election will determine who sits in the seat of government; whose agenda will be enacted in our nation. Easter settles this matter of authority and agenda for the whole cosmos and forever. Remember this on May 18!
As NT Wright puts it, `The first and perhaps most obvious meaning of the resurrection of Jesus, which emerges strongly in all 4 gospels, is that God has vindicated the Jesus who proclaimed the kingdom and died as Israel’s representative…It is the decisive even which means that God’s kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven.’
The enthronement of the risen King and inauguration of his Kingdom has implications for individuals, the church and the world. The Resurrection calls each of us, like Thomas, to acknowledge the authority of Jesus and commit to him in worship. We declare this shift of allegiance to Jesus in our baptisms – dying to self and living renewed lives in union with him. For a very practical reflection of what this means see Colossians 3:1-10.
Later in chapter (Colossians 3:11-17), Paul writes about how our shared commitment to the Lord should be reflected in the way we relate to one another in Christ’s Church.
The Gospel accounts of Easter include the commissioning of the King’s women and men to share the news of his resurrection and launch of his Kingdom – the beginning of God’s great renewal of our world. Here are some missional questions that emerge from Easter: What would it look like in our neighbourhoods, nation and world if the risen Lord’s will was done there as it is in Heaven? How might we individually and churches collaborate with God in working towards that?
Let us be encouraged to persevere in this Kingdom living and mission because, as Paul puts it in the conclusion of his great chapter on the Resurrection (1Cor 15), God has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, `Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.’ Christ is risen and reigns!
 NT Wright, Surprised by Hope, SPCK, 2007.