Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Pastor

Morgan Park

 Baptist Church

11024 S. Bell Avenue 

Chicago, IL 60643


Reflection April 1, 2018

"Easter Joy" by Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth

          Easter is, without question, the most important Christian Feast. Nothing else comes close to Easter in terms of Christian celebration and joy. On Easter every year I get to wear one of my favorite ties! (Look for it!) And, yes, Christmas, the Feast of Jesus’ Incarnation is very special and also a great joy. But Easter is the Christian Feast of Feasts. For a Christian, physically capable of attending, not to come to Easter worship is, frankly, a blasphemy!

    Easter is why we are Christians. As the theologian John Sacks writes: “The Resurrection of the crucified Christ is the heart of the Gospel message and the foundation of all Christian faith.” As the spiritual writer and activist Joan Chittister notes: “Easter Sunday is the moment Christmas points to, the moment the Passion (of Christ) obscures, the moment the tomb reveals. On Christmas morning we find the manger full of life; on Easter morning we find the tomb empty of death. We know the whole truth now: death is not the end, and life as we know it – is only the beginning of Life.”

          Easter is much more than the celebration of spring’s arrival. (By the way, the date for Easter Sunday is determined thusly: Easter is the
first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox - or the start of spring!) Easter is not some sort of “spring break” for Christians. Easter is the one day we fully celebrate the power of our God who is constantly calling us into the fullness of life.

    Easter is always a good time to ponder those times in our lives when we felt most “alive.” Perhaps such times include the excitement of a new school year, a ride on an exhilarating roller coaster (I could never get myself to ride ‘The Bobs’ when I would annually visit Riverview Park!), a vacation to a place of transfiguring beauty (such as Maui!), the experience of falling fully into love, being able to experience or witness the birth of a child, helping young ones grow in wisdom and grace, singing with fully-open throats, cheering on our favorite basketball team (Go Loyola Ramblers!), getting swept up in music played or listened to, worshipping the Lord with heart and soul. Obviously such a list could go on and on!

    When we feel most alive, we are allowing the power of God’s Living Spirit to flow in us and through us. When we feel most alive, we are swept up in the power of Easter and the energizing, vitalizing, power of Resurrection. When we feel most alive, we are experiencing the vitality of the Spirit of the Living God. Being fully alive is what Easter is all about!

        I believe this is what our brother Paul had in mind when he wrote: “But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you … If the Spirit … who raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through the Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9, 11)

    The LIFE we are given in and through the Risen Christ and the power of God’s Spirit is without limit, without constraints, without boundaries. Bodily death cannot end the power of life given to us in and through the Risen Christ. Life as it comes forth from the hand of
our limitless God is more powerful and more eternal than the illusory grip of death, even when death seems to have the last word. Death cannot be the last word from our God!

    If we’re truly “Easter people” – which we are – then we show forth the power of Resurrection by being people full of life, full of vitality, full of the passion and power of life. We’re called to be people who vibrate with the excitement and energy of life. As Jesus stated: “I have come that they (all people) may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10 – NIV)

    This “full life” is life in and with our bodies. This is why the Christian doctrine of “the Resurrection of the Body” is a foundational Christian belief. We will not spend eternity as a disembodied soul, far removed from the earth. All creation, we have been promised, will be transformed and reach the joy God envisions for creation in and through the Crucified and Resurrected Christ. As Sacks writes: “There is no (divine) salvation apart from the body and from the world … Resurrection is the transforming perfection of bodily life.”

    We’re called to be “Easter people” in the here and now.  We’re called to shine forth with the radiant luminosity of Christ’s Resurrection in the here and now. We’re called to shine forth with the vitality of the Spirit of Life who is forever working to bring forth new life and perfect all life through the Word of God. Easter reminds us dramatically who we are and who we’re called to be. Alleluia, indeed!
Easter Breakfast: Please let us know if you will be attending our Annual Easter Breakfast this Sunday, April 1, beginning at 9:00 am in our parlor. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for grade school youth. But please keep in mind that our worship service at 11 am is also an important dimension of Easter! Please also plan on attending the vitally important April 4th ceremony (see next page!)  Pastor Thomas