1 Cor 15. 19-26
+ Acts 10.34-43
by Revd. Elizabeth Bussmann, Environment Officer for the Church of England Diocese in Europe
SUMMARY OF PREACHING THEME
Easter is the consummation of the Scriptures which began with the Creation of the World in Genesis and how it was desecrated by Adam and Eve’s disobedience – or more pointedly their wanting to be ‘God’. (A goal that humans still pursue today, even though it is not necessarily explicit. Examples: gene manipulation or the recent ‘success’ of creating a baby from 3 different sources, mother, father and another woman’.)
The Easter message often limited to ‘just’ the salvation of people from their sins – and yet there is SO MUCH more. How we see the Easter message will affect how we act as Christians in all areas of our lives.
Isaiah 65:17-end Too often we sing and say, that the goal of Christianity is to leave earth behind when we die and go to ‘heaven’. The early Christians had other priorities. For them Jesus’ resurrection was the launching of God’s new creation HERE on earth, starting to fulfil what Jesus had taught them to pray: that God’s kingdom come ‘on earth as in heaven’. (Matt. 6.10) See Isaiah’s words,promised also in 2.Peter 3.13/Rev.21.1 – the joining together of new heavens and new earth, the resurrection of the body affirmed by Jesus’ physical resurrection – a resurrection that would create new human beings to live in the renewed world.
The resurrection of Jesus is the affirmation of the goodness of creation, and the gift of the Spirit has been given to make us the fully human beings we were supposed to be, in order that we can at last fulfil the mandate given at the beginning – to look after the garden. Gen. 1.27 God made HUMANS in his image, to rule over the earth. In ancient days a ‘king’ represented his gods to his subjects with the belief that the gods reigned over their people through the king’s commands. Humans appointed to reign over God’s creation, to be God’s representative on earth! If we represent a loving God (and are made in his image) our calling is to show kindness and wisdom toward the rest of creation.
Theme of HUMANS as ‘priests and rulers’ throughout the Bible. Worshipping and reigning the twin vocations of the new people in the new city – Rev. 1.5-6;3.21;5.9-10;20.4-6;22.3-5;
Paul writes in his letters that we have to start preparing for full coming of the Kingdom here and now. Loving God with all our MIND. Paul explains that Jesus’ death and resurrection was to bring about our re-humanisation! Becoming what God made us for in the first place. But this doesn’t just happen – the Fruit of the Spirit has to be worked out by each individual ‘denying oneself and taking up one’s cross’ It involves the hard and painful work of changing our mindsets – getting rid of old habits and learning new ones. The mind seems to be automatically tuned to bad thoughts – or have you ever had to struggle to be rude, angry, resentful, jealous etc. etc.!
We cannot ‘earn’ our salvation – that is God’s great gift to us – through his grace. But we are called to work on ourselves to start becoming what we will be when Jesus returns. To be lights to others – being made in the image of God means reflecting God’s loving ways to others.
Summing up: The work of ‘salvation’ in its full sense is 1. About whole human beings, not merely ‘souls’ 2. About the present, not simply the future, and 3. About what God does through us, not merely what he does in and for us.
Old Testament reading / Psalm
‘For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth, the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice for ever in what I am creating.’
This was the promise not only in the Old Testament but also in the New. See 2.Peter 3:13; Rev. 21.1
New Testament reading
I Corinthians 15.19-26
‘For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being: for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.’ Interestingly the only title Jesus used for himself was ‘The Son of Man’. Reference to Adam the first Man? Luke in his genealogy of Jesus traces him right back to Adam. (Adam in Hebrew means dust/ground ‘adamah’ – Adam made from the earth) Jesus title ‘The Son of Man’ and affirmation of our Humanness.
Acts: 10:34-43 ‘He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.’
‘Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.’ Reference to Psalm 16.10
Do we understand it?
Environmental & Sustainability themes / links:
A true understanding of the meaning of Easter will transform all our thinking and connection to Environmental, sustainability and justice themes …
Paul writes in Romans that ‘the whole creation is waiting with eager longing – not just for its own redemption, its liberation from corruption and decay, BUT FOR GOD’S CHILDREN TO BE REVEALED!’ In other words creation is waiting for the unveiling of those redeemed, restored humans THROUGH WHOSE STEWARDSHIP CREATION WILL AT LAST BE BROUGHT BACK INTO THAT WISE ORDER FOR WHICH IT WAS MADE. This is a clear mandate to all born-again Christians that what Paul writes to the Romans can’t be put off until the ultimate future, it must begin here and now. It is as Tom Wright writes, ‘our mandate for every act of justice and mercy, every program of ecology, every effort to reflect God’s wise stewardly image into his creation.’
Further reading (books / websites / videos etc.)
Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus – ‘How the Jewish words of Jesus can change your life” by Lois Tverberg – published in Zondervan
After you believe: ‘Why Christian character matters” by N.T. Wright in Harper One
Surprised by Hope by Tom Wright SPCK
Jesus and the Earth by James Jones SPCK
WORSHIP / LITURGICAL RESOURCES
Service of the Word
God of glory, by the raising of your Son you have broken the chains of death and hell:
fill your Church with faith and hope;
FOR A NEW DAY HAS DAWNED
and the way to life stands open in our Saviour Jesus Christ. OR
Lord of all life and power who through the resurrection of your Son overcame the old order of sin and death TO MAKE ALL THINGS NEW IN HIM: grant that we, being dead to sin and alive to you in Jesus Christ, may REIGN WITH HIM in glory; to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be praise and honour; glory and might, now and in all eternity.
God of Life, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross and by his glorious resurrection have delivered us from the power of our enemy: GRANT US SO TO DIE DAILY TO SIN, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his risen life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
by Elizabeth Bussmann-Morton, Diocese in Europe