Heartland

Alleluia! The Lord is Risen!

He is Risen indeed! Alleluia

In the season of Easter, it has been the common practice of Christians over the millennia to greet each other with these words. In these ancient words spoken by the followers of the Way of Jesus, we have an expression of hope. What has been dead is now alive. What had been locked away in a tomb has now broken out into the world. It is a bold statement of faith.

These words were greeted with skepticism and incredulity by those who heard it thousands of years ago. When the women returned from the tomb to tell the other disciples of what they saw and heard at an empty tomb, they thought it an idle tale. A tale imagined by grief stricken and confused women. I find it interesting that in every gospel story about the resurrection, it is the women who are the first to proclaim the good news. A fact lost upon those of the Christian faith who would deny women their voice in the church.

Long ago they struggled with this bold statement of faith as we do today. Resurrection is an impossibility in our empirical worldview that is suspicious of such claims as irrational superstition. It is far easier to see the reality of death in the world around us from the arbitrary violence of terrorism and mass shootings to the commonplace injustices that lead to oppression and death. To claim the Lord is risen seems a feeble thing.

Yet something happened.

Something happened that turned a fumbling stumbling group of people who had lost all hope into a community that changed the world. From Peter who denied and ran away from Jesus when he was needed the most to Paul who had persecuted the followers of the Way of Jesus and then became one of them. Something happened to them that cannot be explained away as simply superstitious drivel.

Something happens to us when we claim the Lord is risen. We become resurrection people. We refuse to believe that what is dead cannot come alive again. We do not give up on others no matter how much they may be lost in the tombs of addictions, mental illness, or hate. We do not give up no matter how lost we may feel in our own brokenness, grief, and shame. We trust despite the struggles of this world that justice and peace shall reign.

This is what we mean when we greet each other this Easter season with our bold claim that the Lord is risen. They may seem only words but they are words that have changed lives and the world. Let us proclaim, like those women long ago who returned from the empty tomb:

“Alleluia! The Lord is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!”