Easter lets loose God’s intention to restore all creation to its beginning; Easter is the sign, Easter is the proof;
in Christ, God is making all things new.
Today our eyes are opened to see that newness and where it is to be found.
One is in John’s Gospel which has no report of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, no outdoor classroom for readers like us to hear Jesus restoring the Ten Commandments to their intended purpose, to teach human how to walk in the way of the Lord.
In John’s Gospel, as we hear in today’s reading, Jesus pulls the ten laws together into one:
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
The Easter sign of God’s creation restored to the original state when what God saw was good will be restored to that goodness with the mark for humans being:
that you love one another…
love, defined and modeled in Jesus’ charge:
Just as I have loved you.
The Easter mark that restores humans to bearing a likeness to God
made visible, lived out in all its fullness, in Jesus,
is now seen in His followers who are known as His Easter
if you have love for one another.
The Easter mark of an Easter people who accept Jesus’ Easter invitation to see self and others as Jesus sees each of us:
through His lens of love.
Peter was the first to confess that new way, going back to creation’s
beginning days, life in the light of Easter’s newly born creation morning,
but it wasn’t easy for Peter.
He had trouble adjusting to seeing others through Christ’s lens of love. He had trouble seeing Gentiles as being fully human,
until he remembered Jesus’ charge to His followers:
to love as Christ loved them…all the way to the cross.
He remembered Jesus’ commandment and he made that his defense when he was called up to appear before the purebred Jewish Christians in Jerusalem, and he testified how when he began to speak of Christ to the Gentiles:
the Holy Spirit fell upon them
just as it had upon us at the beginning.
and he said:
“If then God gave them the same gift that he gave us
when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ,
who was I that I could hinder God?”
When they heard this, they were silenced.
And they praised God, saying,
“Then God has given even to the Gentiles
the repentance that leads to life.”
Easter come alive to see others through Christ’s lens of love.
For John Newton Easter it happened the day he looked down into the hold of a ship and saw natives snatched from their villages in Africa to be sold as slaves in America,
packed like sardines in a can, the heavier the cargo the higher
the profit, and more money coming to him as the ship’s
That moment his eyes were opened to see through Christ’s lens of love; suddenly he say they were as human as he was, and he felt convicted and condemned in the eyes of God, until he also saw himself through the lens of Christ’s love, and he exclaimed:
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost but now am found,
was blind but now I see.”
He began to see with the vision of an Easter person who, being color-blind to race
sees how large God’s human family really is.
My own confession is that it took time on the Conference staff to see
beyond the prejudices that are still with us.
My vision of race changed the day I was the only white person in a totally Black church and they brought my sermon to life with their “Amen!” “Preach it to us, sister!” “Praise the Lord!”
I felt God’s Spirit that filled them fall on me, and like Peter, I saw each of us as a new race, one people, in Jesus Christ.
My gender phobia was convicted the morning I sat in a meeting listening to members of a congregation present their case for taking the church and all its assets out of the United Church of Christ –
an illegal move which they maneuvered through a by-laws change.
As the discussions became a verbal assault on all same sex people, with no hope for saving the church from a costly legal battle that eventually led to division,
I happened to look up at the cross on the wall and heard the
words of Christ preserved in John’s Gospel: (12:32)
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth,
will draw all people to myself.”
When Paul let himself be pulled into the Christ’s love, he not only gave up his Gentile phobia but exclaimed:
“If anyone is in Christ there is a new creation!”
To this day my heart is broken by the inability of Christ’s followers to let Him pull us out of our prejudices and phobias so that we confess:
“We are all children of our heavenly Father!” and celebrate with the exclamation: “What a large family!”
It took a dog, an invisible fence, and a snowstorm to enable a Christian to see though the Gospel lens Jesus holds up in today’s reading.
An invisible fence planted beneath the sod and the monitor on his dog’s collar kept her within the bounds of their yard,
until a heavy snow buried the invisible fences’ charge.
The dog was free to have a wonderful time romping with the neighbors’ pets and children and when tired,
she came back home. (Day1,the Rev. P. Richard Game, April 28, 2013)
How, thought the Christian, Jesus buries the fences we raise to isolate ourselves from others and miss the fun of exclaiming,
“What a large family!” the family God sees,
and so do we when we let ourselves be pulled up by Christ’s cross and from that height see one another
through the lens of Christ’s love.
The Easter sign of the Easter life of an Easter people!