An Easter People
By: Emily Messiter
“Most Christians don’t live like the Messiah has come.”
I heard this on a podcast recently and felt my heart sink. Do I live like the long awaited one has come and saved me? This is the story of Easter: Death was going to destroy me, but Jesus intervened. “We are an Easter people!” Pope John Paul II proclaimed. But while I have an idea of what a “good Lent” looks like, I struggle to know what it means to live out Easter.
I don’t have all the answers to this (though a little extra chocolate probably helps), but one invitation has captured my heart in prayer - to consider that the Resurrection of the Messiah spills out into our lives and the world around us. Just like the deep love He showed by His death is not isolated to one moment of history, His Resurrection has changed everything, even today.
I think the first step to living out Easter is to open our eyes. Look at the trees starting to bud, promising that winter will pass and spring will come. Look at the rain falling on tiny blades of grass; look at the clouds coming together and drifting apart. This is the masterpiece of the Creator. Of course the world is fallen and is groaning as it awaits the final redemption. But destruction will not have the final word. Resurrection is the promise.
We open our eyes to really look at the people around us - family, friends, classmates, coworkers, the people in cars driving by...this is His image and likeness. Each one reveals something about the Creator; each one must have been so intentionally formed for no other reason than that He wants someone just like them to be with Him forever in Heaven. And of course we are fallen, capable of grossly abusing our free will and enslaving ourselves - even eternally - to the kingdom of sin. But sin and death will not have the final word. Resurrection is the promise.
I’m thinking that to really live out Easter, it takes a good deal of remembering - remembering who we are now and where Jesus is inviting us to go, and devoting time to this practice of remembering. Our Messiah promised to prepare a place for us. Heaven will be perfect in all ways, but, just like any poem or painting or song must originate in the thoughts and heart of its artist, I imagine that God’s masterpiece surrounding us must reveal (albeit dimly) the great reality of who He is and what our eternal home entails. We see now the beauty bursting from from His creative Word. I have to believe that upon finally meeting Him face-to-face, His glory will be greater than we could have dared to imagine, and yet, having received so many tastes of who He is, I imagine that something will stir within us: His majesty reminds me of that place. I have touched your love because of him. His great gentless reminds me of her.
So how do we live as an Easter people? St. Catherine of Siena once said, “All the way to Heaven is Heaven.” We recognize that Resurrection is not far off. Jesus came to establish His Kingdom, and He is now training us to remember the reality of life everlasting. We do this by allowing ourselves time to think about Heaven, to contemplate His love, to practice true leisure, to be amazed by the intricacies of nature, to spend time with and love other people with no agenda. The darkness has tried to divert our gaze - look at this terror, this brokenness, this grave. But an Easter people know that there is no tomb that is not invited to Resurrection, and that in this moment there is grace to respond to this invitation. We could live as pitiful slaves of concupiscence, or we could allow our thoughts and actions to be transformed into true reflections of our Creator. Do we remind the people in our lives of the goodness, love, and mercy of the Father? Do we faithfully bear His image?
I could try to think up a list of practical ways to live Easter, but in a world of self-help and quick tips and tricks, I think sometimes Jesus invites us to simply let His beauty take us in. We start by praying that He restores our vision, that the lens through which we view our neighbor and our surroundings is redeemed in Resurrection power. In Heaven, the beholding will never have to end. An Easter people does not wait for that “some day,” but recognizes that the Messiah has come, and that this changes everything.
Emily Messiter is a graduate student in Spanish who works as a teaching assistant at Wayne State University and as an administrator for BLR and i.d.9:16. Some of her favorite things include long runs, college football, Mexico City, Pine Hills Camp, and slow mornings complete with hot coffee, oatmeal, and prayer time.