David deFreese
David deFreese, Former Vice President of Church Relations and International Programs

Easter Message: Same Vocation in a New Location

“Same vocation in a new location.” That is how my father described resurrection following death.  In a death denying culture, this is a death-defying statement. An announcement of Easter faith.

Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection not as a lone incident unique to one person, but as a shared event to be experienced by all the faithful. That changes everything! Reality is re-visited.  Easter reshapes how death is confronted and how life is lived.

Death is inevitable. We will all die. A good friend simply states: “None of us gets out of here alive.”  As fervently as we pray for healing and long life, as glad as we are on the occasions when those prayers are granted, we all finally die. Death is the darkest mystery each of us must face. Fear of the unknown is our greatest fear. Therefore, too often, our fear of death robs us of life, because fear of death always turns into fear of life, into a stingy, cautious way of living that is not really living at all.

Most humans are not so good at endings. We are much better at beginnings, when everything is new and exciting and full of possibilities. We like to hold babies better than we like to visit nursing homes. We like daybreak better than midnight. We like saying hello better than we like saying goodbye, but it is not like we get to choose. We have plenty of both in our lives–beginnings and endings–roughly one of each for everything that really matters to us.

Yet, Jesus’ shared resurrection transforms death from a harsh, cold ending into a new beginning. When our lives run out here on earth, God will have more life in store for us. Our God is a God who never runs out of life! We have been given an opportunity to not only follow Jesus into death, but also an invitation to follow him into abundant life, both now and later on.  Jesus’ enemies counted on fear of death to shut him up and shut him down, but they were wrong. God resides on both sides of the grave, which means we receive our lives as gifts instead of guarding them as possessions. 

To have faith in God, to have faith that we are in good hands, to have faith that whether or not we understand everything, means God’s love is sufficient and trusted which empowers life.

We simply give up the illusion that we are in control of our lives and step out in confidence to live abundantly, joyfully, hopefully. Jesus has not only brought God to us–Christmas–but us to God–Easter!

You see, Easter impacts how we live today. Irenaeus, an early Church leader, said: “A (hu)man fully alive is the glory of God.” The Westminister Catechism states: “The chief end of humanity is to glorify God and enjoy God forever.” Scripture tells us: “Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”  (Joshua 1:9). Our Nicene Creed triumphantly declares: “We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”

“Same vocation in a new location.” A most blessed Easter celebration to you and yours!

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