Pulpit Reflections

Pulpit Reflections By Rev. Judith Johnson It is the time of baskets and bunnies.

This is the season when somebody thinks it's a good idea to dye not only eggs, but the baby chicks who will someday lay them � when else can you find live chickens in pastel blue or green? It's an amazing time of year. Chocolate bunnies, and jelly-bean eggs, and what exactly are Peeps made of, anyway?

It's a joyous time.

There is a sense that winter is losing its grip on us � there may yet be a storm or too, but we know we're on the down hill slide into spring: it's right around the corner, and signs of its imminent arrival are all around us. We dare to leave our coats in the car now, when we're running errands; and we're starting to think about packing away the heaviest woolen sweaters. This is the time when the whole Creation seems to be coming back to life again, and it fills us with a sense of relief: we've survived another winter! A joyous time, indeed.

It's also a holy time.

For those of the Christian faith, this is the time � Good Friday through Easter � when the greatest sorrow and the greatest joy come together: once upon a time, long, long ago, and now again, this year, in every believing heart.

The essence of the Christian faith is seen in this: not a set of "values;" not one, particular style of life; not a certificate of membership in a particular congregation or denomination � these are all far removed from the center, accretions of time and culture and institutional life. No, the heart of the Christian faith is simply this: that in a person named Jesus, God entered the world a long, long time ago, died, and was raised from the dead; and through that ancient and historic event, God saves us from sin and death.

That's it. Christians have different opinions and different ideas about how all of that works, and whether certain aspects of the story are essential or incidental: the virgin birth, the miracles Jesus did, his sermons and his stories, the involvement of his own people and the Roman government in his death, the suffering he endured ? all of the details of the story generate endless discussion and debate, and some of it's even interesting.

But this weekend is really simple: Jesus died on Friday, God raised him on Sunday; and in those two events, the world was changed forever.

In the death of Jesus, we see our own humanity, our own death, our own brokenness, and all of the "wrongness" of this world, for Jesus had done nothing to deserve death. And in his resurrection we see the hope of new life for ourselves, the hope that if God can bring life from death, then God can do wonders in our lives too.

This is holy time: as we remember these ancient events, and as we ponder what they mean for our lives today, we encounter the living God. The drama of Good Friday and Easter invites us to enter into the story of what happened so long ago, and to allow that story to take on life in us and through us, today.

It is springtime. It is the season of bunnies and baskets. And it is so much more.

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