What does it mean to be Easter People?
As we continue on this journey through the Easter Season, we reflect on the Risen Lord - who He is and who are in the presence of this reality. Being Easter People means that we embody and reflect the truth of the Easter Story: Our God, humbling Himself so He could abide with us, was betrayed and brutally executed because of the threatening Philosophy He was living and sharing, and then did the impossible - rose from the dead to continue sharing this Philosophy in spite of those who tried to silence Him. What was this Philosophy that was so threatening and which we are called to live and share as He did?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37, 39).
As Easter people we are called to TWO great commandments. Love our God and love each other. We are called to be people free from the rules and restrictions of religion created by humanity, which threaten our ability to love freely as Jesus calls us. In Jesus’ time, the rules and restrictions of religion threatened His ability to freely heal people because of Sabbath laws or dine with sinners or lovingly touch someone who was deemed unclean. In our time, the rules and restrictions of religion often threaten our ability to love freely those who “Religion” deems unworthy or less worthy - people whose skin is a different shade than ours, people who form “nontraditional” relationships and families, people with differing political views, people of different nationalities or religious practices, people who identify other than their assigned gender, people who worship to the wrong music. I could go on, and I know you could also. In fact, I know with certainty that at some point in your life, you could identify within a religiously excluded category.
There seems to be no end to the list of excluded persons, yet exclusion is not a practice of Easter People. Rather, as Easter people, we are called to radical inclusion. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians makes this very clear, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). In Acts, the Resurrected Jesus sends His apostles to share the Good News to the Jews, Samaritans, and the Gentiles, inviting all these people to share in the Kingdom of God. Yet, here we are, proclaiming that we are Easter people yet denying the call of the One who made us to be Easter People.
Don’t think for a second that this was not extremely radical in Jesus’ time as it is in ours. The Jewish people, for generations, were under the impression that they were the only chosen people of God, and therefore the only ones deserving of being a part of God’s Kingdom. To now be told that Jesus welcomed people who had oppressed them, fought wars against them, enslaved them…this was a difficult pill to swallow. Yet, as freeing and beautiful and hope-filled as it is to be Easter People, it also comes with this challenge. We are called to love. Period. We are called to love those we find difficult to love. We are called to love those we have prejudices against. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. ALL our neighbors. This is what it means to be Easter People.