Many of the people who first heard the words of our lessons this morning were living as outsiders, alienated from society. Still others were locals, had grown up in the area, and were familiar with the local culture, but had left the faith that they were raised in to become Christians. Regardless, they were seen as ‘strangers’, as the ‘other’ or simply ‘different.’ The writer of 1 Peter calls them to embrace their differences and to live lives of commitment, to see their lives as a gift of Christ. Through Jesus’ resurrection, 1 Peter says that God has given Christians a new birth and a new family. From their vantage point, their old lives – the traditions set forth by their ancestors – are seen as empty and pointless. And they’re to look ahead to this new life with Christ. New life that begins with baptism.
Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation of our Christian faith – from the beginning in Paul’s account and for us today, more than 2,000 years later. Our Gospel paints a vivid picture of the disciples…of their needs and wants…while at the same time portraying the risen Jesus in all the abundance of his grace. Each of our readings this week talks about faith. Faith in God and our relationship and trust in God’s love and God’s grace.
And, so here we stand on this side of Easter. The Resurrection has become the new reality in all of its glory and mystery. And for fifty days, the church lives into the reality of the Resurrection; of what it means to be a community shaped by the dying and rising of Christ. John’s Gospel shows us that it’s not easy to live into that reality.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
I was speaking with someone recently and shared that one of my earliest church memories was as a 4-year-old in the Cherub Choir. It was Easter morning…I recall getting ready – all lined up at the back of the church in my robe, ready to go. It was at that moment that I noticed the boy next to me – who I’d been paired with – had some leftover breakfast on his face. Dried egg yolk which I’ll never forget. It took a bit of convincing for me to walk with him. Thanks to promises made and some clever negotiating by the Choir Director.