You might have noticed that we're reminding our church family that, for Christ followers, Easter is not just a day, but a season in the Christian year. For instance, this coming Sunday, May 2, is actually the Fifth Sunday of Easter (the Easter season in 2021 continues until the Day of Pentecost on May 23).
When you read the Easter story in the gospels, you find that the risen Christ appears to his disciples in the most ordinary of places: at breakfast, one evening when they are all hunkered down behind locked doors, and on the beach while they are at work. Something about the risen Christ loves to meet people in the most ordinary places. That's good if you want to meet Jesus because most of us live in ordinary places, like Galilee.
A new community was formed at the foot of the cross on Easter -- the church -- because Easter gave birth to the church. It was also an ordinary place -- Charlotte, North Carolina, and Lake Wylie, South Carolina -- that God chose as the place to give birth to Imagine Church as well. Over the weeks and months, more and more people began to be drawn to this exciting new faith community. That's the power of Easter.
James S. Stewart, in his marvelous book, Heralds of God, says, "No one's soul can be satisfied indefinitely with the pathetic shell of a materialistic philosophy. It begins to starve for something better than such poor earthly stuff. Sooner or later, the famine grips it. It grows homesick. It wants to fling its windows open toward Jerusalem. It cries aloud for the God who is its home."
That's the great commission and privilege for Christians anywhere. The Resurrected Lord, the alive Christ, the Holy Presence has to be real in our lives before we can win those who seek great conviction. Someone once said of George Buttrick, "He speaks as if Jesus were at his elbow." That's the way we have to talk and act if we are to claim the world for resurrected faith.
The faith we proclaim each Sunday is that Resurrection is a reality and that Christ's living presence continues within us, within the church, and even within the world. We live that Easter faith by prayer to God and service with God, awareness of Christ and action for Christ. And with the example of such dedication, even those who live in the most ordinary of places may yet believe and enlist.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas