Today is Easter Sunday, one of the most important dates of the year for Christians across the world. We reached out to several local pastors for their thoughts on what makes Easter relevant in today’s world.
Rev. C. L. Faulkner — Rising Star Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
To me, Easter is more than a sunrise service, the banks of dewfresh lillies and vested choirs on Easter morning. It is even deeper than just rejoicing to remember that Christ arose - victorious over death and the grave. The importance of the Easter message has not changed since the beginning of the Christian era. Easter means resurrection and resurrection means a new beginning. It typifies the new birth through the power of the living God that raised Jesus up from the dead.
Because of Easter - because of resurrection - we have eternal, living hope. When the angels rolled that stone away from the tomb, God opened a door of hope to a condemned world. He is opening that same door today to a world that is trying to destroy itself.
All these things Christ’s resurrection meant to His followers over two thousand years ago, and its meaning never changed. It is still the same in our generation and for generations to come.
Dr. Chet Haney — Highland Terrance Baptist Church
Don’t even try to tell me Ronald Reagan walked on the water or fed five thousand people in the mid-80s. We would never believe it. Too many people, like me, may not remember everything, but we remember well enough the space shuttle, the Berlin wall, the L.A. Olympics. These events are not legends to us. They are memories. The brief 30-year time lapse from the resurrection (33 A.D.) to the writing of Mark’s Gospel (63 A. D.) forbids the possibility of legends gaining credibility among contemporaries. You could neither have sold them lies nor subtracted memories. They were deeply affected, so much so a million Jews even changed the sacred Sabbath to the Lord’s day, Sunday. The resurrection affected them that deeply and still does. It changes everything. So much so, it has changed my life and the lives of many others. That’s the most powerful, and joyful, significance.
Pastor Bill Shaddox — Salem-Kinser United Methodist Church
Easter gives hope, because it gives hope for those who are facing death or whose loved ones have died, just the hope of eternal life and the victory over all suffering and pain. This is through Jesus Christ. For many years, I have used the Passion Week, Easter Week, as a time to medidate and think on what Christ went through and what he did, including what we will remember on Thursday and Good Friday, the crucifixion, and Saturday, and of course the final victory on Easter Sunday morning. On Easter Sunday morning, we use a barren cross that we introduce the Sunday before Easter, and members of the congregation are asked to bring flowers to flower the cross as a sign of hope of the victory of resurrection and the victory over death and the hope that people have because of Easter.
Sgt. Wes Trueblood — The Salvation Army
The world today is still just as desperately in need of the message of Easter as it was thousands of years ago when Christ gave His life and rose from the dead to take away our sins.
I suppose Paul said it best in Romans 12:16-21, but especially when he says, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” How different would our world be if the message of Christ’s peace was applied today?
Christ came to take our sins away and to teach us how to live at peace with God, and with all men through his actions of forgiveness and love. I think there may be no time so perfect as now for that message to be heard loudly and clearly.
Rev. Paul Weinberger — St. William’s Catholic Church
Ten years ago, Pope St. John Paul II died. Once he wrote: “Free and conscious embracing of grave evil separates the individual from the life of grace to which he is called.” On Good Friday Judas and Peter freely and consciously embraced grave evil in their separate betrayals of Jesus. They separated themselves from Jesus. Both Judas and Peter came to realize what they had done to Jesus. Judas considered that his sin was greater than Jesus who is love. He believed the Devil’s lie and it led Judas to take his own life. Peter’s case is the same except for the last part. Peter wept many tears. Peter did not follow Judas into the abyss of despair. The first gift which Jesus the bridegroom gave to his bride, the Church was the ability to forgive sins: “Then Jesus breathed on them and said: receive the Holy Spirit! The sins you shall forgive they are forgiven; the sins you hold bound, they are held bound.”