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Palm Sunday

Like you I have continued to watch and hear what is happening in Ukraine. The initial shock has given way to a constant sense of both disbelief and frustrated anger.(And I know that anger is a very difficult emotion to hold without sinning.)
And as we continue to hear of the growing tragedy unfolding we continue to step closer to Easter.For me this is making my journey to the Easter reality harder than usual.
The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and we are now invited to belong to it.But this Easter invitation is not merely spiritual. The resurrection was and is bodily. Easter has the power to transform and heal the present world.A healing that seems very distant for the people of Ukraine!
NT Wright, an eminent Christian theologian, writes these startling words:
A strange feature of the resurrection accounts in the gospels is the fact that they never mention the future Christian hope.
He goes on to say that despite a thousand Easter hymns and a million Easter sermons the resurrection narratives in the gospels never, ever say anything like 'Jesus is raised therefore there is life after death,' let alone, 'Jesus is raised therefore we shall go to heaven when we die.'To use NT's words again "Insofar as the Easter event is interpreted, Easter has a very this-worldly, present-age meaning."
So what does this mean for Ukraine, or where ever there is war and destruction, violence and evil?
For sure there is a future hope. NT Wright is not denying that sure fact.While the gospels don't mention it almost everywhere else in the New Testament connects the resurrection of Jesus on the first Easter with our final hope that we also will be raised as He has been raised - anticipated in the present in our baptism and behavior.There is a future hope, another Easter, for all who trust Him despite current circumstances.
While that hope is sure it doesn't remove my angst for how I can help Ukraine now. My angst that the very this-worldly, present-age Easter hope appears too distant. Frustratingly (in one sense - my more human want-to-do-more side) it seems that the only thing I/we can do for Ukraine is pray.But that's not the end of the story.There is one part of the world where Easter can very much transform - myself.Easter transforms me now as I seek personal holiness and learn how to live in the new world created by the first Easter.
Can my learning to live in the new world that Easter formed, can Easter transforming me, impact Ukraine?
This has been my thinking most of this week?If I learn personal holiness who is impacted - just me and my immediate circle, or, can it reach across oceans to others?Is personal holiness and global holiness not somehow joined?Does my salt and light only reach the geography around me or could it somehow reach the soil of Ukraine, of Russia?Is goodness and love bound by physics?And then what of the body of Christ and the unity and fellowship of the one, holy, catholic Church?Is there a mystery beyond what we see when we pursue personal holiness?
It was the Gnostics who translated the language of resurrection into a private spirituality and dualistic cosmology. Sadly, a dualism that modern Christianity drifts towards. Emperors, dictators don’t have sleepless nights worrying over people who have divided the spiritual and the temporal, who have divided heaven and earth. If it's all future and somewhere up there then they can do whatever they like down here.But emperors, dictators and present day Putin's should be very worried about Christians who live out the truth of resurrection
Again NT Wright helped me. As he explains - resurrection overthrows death and those whose power depends on it.Resurrection, Easter, declares that God has become King on earth as in heaven.Easter, resurrection, is the amazing reality of Christians - like you and like me - going to our work, and in our homes and communities, confronting the powers of the world until Christ has put all enemies under his feet!As I live with personal holiness - something bigger IS happening ..... the already/not-yet fully world of the rule and reign of Christ breaks through more and more.
I have to believe that alongside prayer - if we as Christians prepare ourselves for the imminent return of Christ (pursue personal holiness) - we speed that reality and with that reality comes justice and a re-newed earth with Christ reigning!
Ukraine, and every other people suffering oppression and bullying and evil, need me, need you to live out Easter! Thy Kingdom Has Come and Is Still To Come! Me living out Easter speeds that happening.
Gilbert

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