SEASONS OF CHANGE: Celebrating the Risen Savior
"Christ Is Risen'. He Is Risen Indeed!"
In this way we greet each other on Easter Sunday and on the Sundays during the Easter Season. This greeting connects us to Christians over the millennia since Jesus' death and resurrection, reminding us of the surprise and joy that Christians will always experience at that thought.
The month of May brings with it many instances to celebrate. There’s the end of the school year, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Ascension Day, and even Pentecost
The Easter season reflecting on the Resurrection of our Lord is in fact a seven week long celebration.. Easter is about the new life we have in Christ, in which we are set free to love, forgive and serve, and thereby find a sense of peace and joy in all that we do. By grabbing hold of the cross, we share in Jesus’ victory over sin, death and all that would destroy us. With the continued celebration of Easter this month of May, we can look toward spring and summer in a new way.
The butterfly is the symbol of Easter. It’s fairly easy to see why. During its caterpillar stage, the butterfly doesn’t grab too many people’s attention; it seems to many nothing more than a worm crawling on the ground. As Jesus carried his crossbeam to the place of his crucifixion, collapsing and crawling along the way, he was an easy target for the ridicule of riled-up bystanders (see Isaiah 53: 1-4). After his death, Jesus was taken down from that place of public humiliation and carried by mournful followers to a borrowed tomb and sealed inside. It’s not hard to see the similarity between Jesus’ burial and the caterpillar’s disappearance into a sealed chrysalis (see Mark 15: 42-47). Knowing that chrysalis comes from the Greek word “gold” leads to fuller appreciation of the third and final stage—when a grand and glorious butterfly emerges from the sealed chamber. That golden moment certainly corresponds to the revolutionary reality that broke out into the world when the brutalized and lifeless Jesus emerged from the tomb alive and breathing; at first, not one of his closest followers recognized him (see John 20: 11-18).
That’s really good Easter review, you might say, but what does it have to do with the month of May?
Think Ascension. On the fortieth day after his resurrection, Jesus led his disciples on a walk from Jerusalem to the village of Bethany, and there he blessed them and ascended up into the heavens—out of their sight (see Luke 24: 50-53 & Acts 1: 6-11). There you go. But it doesn’t end there in the waiting for Jesus to come again in the clouds on that great and final day; it connects to what happened ten days later!
People from everywhere were in Jerusalem for the Israelite festival Feast of Weeks which took place 50 days after Passover. Before his departure and Ascension, Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit. So they went back to Jerusalem and sure enough, ten days later, the Holy Spirit descended upon them like a mighty rushing wind and flaming fire (see Acts 2: 1-4). This is Pentecost. 50 days. Did they rejoice and stay put? No. Instead they “took to flight” on missionary journeys, remembering Jesus’ words “When the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
As you go about life’s celebrations, recall how like a butterfly, Christ transforms not only his life but yours. Let the joy that his life brings give you wings to sharing his message.
Pastor Aaron Boerst
The Repentant Lifestyle
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
“Repentance.” It’s one of those great church-y words that we have, one that we can find throughout both the Old and New Testaments, and one that just sounds like it fits in a church service. But what exactly is it? Is it a thing we do? Is it a way we do things? Is it something else altogether? To answer simply, I’d suggest the answer is “yes” to all of the above.
Repentance is something that we “do,” in that when we are wrong, we are called to repent.
To repent is to “Turn Aside” or “Turn Around,” or quite literally to feel sorry (penitent) once more. Repentance is a turning of the heart, or will, away from what is wrong or evil to that which is good or pleasing to God. When we wrong others, whether it is the initial act that causes harm or the simmering anger that follows being wronged, we break down the relationships that God intended for us—first and foremost our relationship with Him, and secondarily (but still importantly) our relationships with those around us. Repentance can rightly be understood as the turning away from the wrong and back toward the good that God intends for us.
Repentance isn’t just a single thing that we do, it’s more than a simple smoothing over of hurt feelings. An apology can be an important part of repentance, but an apology without a change in the way things is just empty words. Repentance can be rightly understood as a process, or a sort of a journey from where we are to where we’d like to be. Another word we might use in the process of repentance is reconciliation.
I don’t think it’s a terrible stretch to say that we could all use a bit of repentance and reconciliation in our lives. Lent and Easter provides for us a nice shift from the normal rhythm of life to one that takes a bit more time for introspection, for reflection on where we may be in need of repentance in our lives. We have a good model for it, as well, because it is the message Christ preached during His earthly life. Even more importantly, it is the message that he, quite literally, embodied in His very being by living, suffering, dying, and rising for us. In so doing, He reconciled us to God Himself!
And that’s what true repentance is all about: JESUS. Truly being repentant and truly being able to turn away from sin, and turn toward God is something that is made possible to us only through Christ.
Our ability to seek repentance with our family, friends, and fellow members of the Body of Christ flows directly from the work and word of Christ in our lives! Just as our Lord opened the mind of His disciples, so also he works in our hearts and minds to bring about the desire for a godly turning from wrong to right, from evil to good.
As we walk together through this Easter season, I encourage you to take the opportunity to live a repentant lifestyle, one that seeks reconciliation with those who you live, work, and worship. And do so with the Joy of knowing that it is made possible to you all because your Redeemer lives! Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
By no means will we be able to right all the wrongs in the world, or fix all of the problems that may exist even in our midst, but as we start the process, as we begin the journey of repentance, we will be conforming ourselves to the image of Christ that is within each of us—following His example, and seeking His kingdom, even as we recognize that it is He who brings about this good work in us!
In the Peace and Joy of Our Living God,
Pastor Aaron Boerst