Easter Sunday is the ultimate Good News Sunday. Lent is done. The true triumph of Palm Sunday is revealed. The lurking doom of Maundy Thursday is over. The pain of Good Friday is finished. Finally … Easter! Christ is Risen. He is Risen indeed!
Do we receive and share the gift of being loved more than we dare to imagine or believe? Do we truly claim and trust that the Resurrection makes a difference to us today, and forever?
Do we move on from the miracle of Easter after an exhausting weekend or a church season? Do we start dabbling with the Gospel – adding to and subtracting from a message that is life-giving and life-changing Good News?
The Church has been entrusted with the Gospel – the Good News. So why do so many see the Church as the bearer of bad news, judgmental news, political news, hateful news, irrelevant news, old fashioned news, unthinking news, hypocritical news…? The list of options goes on. And on.
During a recent gathering of The Ministry Collaborative, we were invited to reimagine church. We know the ecclesial landscape is changing and we enjoyed dreaming, discerning, learning, and wondering what God may be doing through new expressions of church. But new birth always involves pain, and so we also acknowledged the suffering and grief that is an integral part of emerging church life. During one difficult conversation about words that have been misused and weaponized, people who have felt unwelcome and ostracized, and pastors who are burned out and leaving the ministry, I exclaimed, “It is SUPPOSED to be Good News.”
What is the Good News? In this post-Easter week, what Good News do you need to hold on to?
- “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)
- “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.” (John 1:14 The Message)
- “’Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 20b)
- “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Romans 8:1-2)
- “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:8)
- “And He who was seated on the throne said, ’Behold, I am making all things new.’” (Revelation 21:5a)
- Jesus loves me this I know…
During Lent this year, I thought a lot about the idea of Good News. I taught a Lenten class that, due to scheduling and lesson plans, actually started in late January. One participant expressed how awful it seemed to go from Advent and Christmas to Lent and Holy Week so quickly – they described how one was so joyful and the other was such a “downer.” I initially taught how the coming of Emmanuel was costly for God too, but realized that exploring pain in the Christmas story may not be helpful! So, instead I sought to lift up Lent and Holy Week, pointing out the gifts of the season. That approach was only marginally successful! If the Good News of Advent and Christmas is God with us, what is the Good News of Lent and Holy Week? The rhythm of Lent, leading into Holy Week, and culminating in Easter Sunday – the journey from preparation, to celebration, to suffering, and ultimately to glorious Resurrection – is, among other things, an extravagant reminder that God is not only with us, God is also for us.
Churches are often full at Christmas and Easter. God with us and God for us are Good News messages of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, LIFE… messages that are so wanted and so needed. Let us not fill in the “ordinary” weeks between these High Holy Seasons with anything less, nor with anything else.
No love if…
No grace but…
No Jesus and…
It is supposed to be Good News. It is Good News. Every day.