Holy Days

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Yesterday was a special day.  It was our anniversary…of sorts.  Three years ago, yesterday, I was wheeled into surgery to remove a brain tumor.  It is, ironically, a day of which I remember very little…yet it is a day that I will never forget and a day that redefined my life and relationships forever.

Our lifespans are each filled with many special days.  Days of discovering a terrible illness, surgeries, births, deaths, and weddings.  If that weren’t enough we often find ourselves commemorating these special days year-after-year.  Yet, our lives are not only made up of “special days.”  A birth of a child is special, sure, but so is the next day as you hold that child or watch a grandparent hold the child for the first time.  A lost tooth, first crush, first day behind the wheel:  these special days begin to grow together.  We begin to realize that every moment of life is a celebration of that first breath and how we live our lives will give meaning when we come to our last breath.

The same is true of Christ.  His Easter resurrection could not have been without the last breath of Good Friday.  Good Friday’s meaning was amplified by a triumphant re-entry into Jerusalem which we celebrate as Palm Sunday.  None of the events from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday could be celebrated without a small child born in a manger.  But these special days would not have held so much meaning without the daily work of Christ: healing, loving and community building.

Too often, I think, we focus on Easter and Christmas to the detriment of Christ’s daily works. Christ’s life was not primarily about one or two days or moments.  These special moments shaped our relationship with God, certainly.  These days were pivotal in human history, absolutely.  Yet, these times are inexorably tied to the daily life and acts of Jesus the Christ.  These “special days” lack specialness without the daily work of the Messiah.

In fact we don’t have high holy days in the Christian tradition.  Each Sunday is an equally important Holy Day because we remember not just a Jesus on a Cross but also a Jesus by a well in Samaria, healing a man at the pool of Bethsaida, raising Lazarus from the dead and calling fisherman from their nets by the sea. Each sunday celebrates the specialness of Jesus Christ on Earth:  his birth, death & resurrection, of course, but also his life of love and message of peace & justice.

I pray that as we approach each new day of faith we would model our lives after Christ:  living each day in pursuit of love, peace & justice.  That we would strive, each day, for a closer relationship with God and celebrate that relationship week-after-week on Sunday mornings!

The Easter Vigil


Meet Dr. Jim Papandrea



Dr. Papandrea is an assistant professor of Church History at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary He is also an accomplished musician and brings Church History to life as a storyteller in the classroom.  He received his BA from the University of Minnesota, his Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, earned a certificate in Classiscal studies at the American Academy in Rome, and his Ph.D. from Northwestern University.  I now welcome Dr. Jim Papandrea to my blog!


Think back to some of the parables Jesus told – parables about waiting, and watching. In the parable of the ten bridesmaids, for example (Matthew, chapter 25), the wise bridesmaids were the ones who kept their lamps burning through the night, and were ready for the return of the groom. The foolish bridesmaids were the ones who fell asleep, and let their lamps go out. In parables like this one, Jesus is teaching about his own return, the so-called second coming, and encouraging all of his followers to live in readiness, and in anticipation of the time when the Groom would return to claim his bride, the Church.

This concept of watching and waiting is embodied liturgically in the vigil service. Based on the Jewish tradition that a new day begins at sundown, the first worship services for a Sunday can actually be held Saturday night. There’s something special about an evening service – coming to the close of the day, with the sky darkening to twilight – it can heighten the sense of mystery in worship. And the liturgy that is arguably the most sacred and mystical is the Easter Vigil. This is an ancient tradition in which the first celebration of Easter begins late the night before, on Holy Saturday.

But the Easter Vigil doesn’t start out with celebration. It actually begins in darkness, with a small light, that expands to many candles, including the lighting of a new paschal (Easter) candle, and finally to the brightness of Easter. An Easter Vigil can last three or four hours, beginning in the late evening on Holy Saturday, and ending around midnight. It’s long, in part because there are many Scripture readings, telling the whole story of salvation history, from creation to redemption. By the time the vigil ends, the assembly has moved from the mourning of Jesus in the tomb to the joy of resurrection (Psalm 30:11).

The Easter Vigil also includes baptisms. In the ancient rite, that still continues in some traditions, adults who wish to be baptized and join the church community have been going through a catechism class, in preparation for their initiation into the Christian life. They have been waiting, waiting until Easter, when they are “born again” in the waters of baptism. And with them, the whole congregation renews their baptismal/confirmation commitment to Christ and his Church. So the Easter Vigil is an opportunity for the Church, the bride of Christ, to renew her wedding vows to her Groom. It’s an opportunity for every believer to experience a fresh start, to turn over a new leaf (an image that goes nicely with spring!). In the ancient Church, the concept of conversion was not thought of as a one-time decision, it was seen as an ongoing process, and the yearly tradition of the Easter Vigil was everyone’s chance to be converted again, through the renewal of their baptismal vows and through the recitation of the Church’s historic creeds.

The Easter Vigil symbolizes the time of waiting. On one level, it’s the time between Friday and Sunday – when Jesus was crucified and was in the tomb, and his disciples waited for the resurrection. On another level, it’s the time between his first advent and his second coming – when we wait for his promised return. It symbolizes – and it allows us to experience – that very moment when the Church goes from mourning into joy, from darkness into light.

Whether you celebrate Easter by attending an Easter Vigil, or the traditional Sunrise Service, or the big main service with all the trumpets, don’t let this Easter go by without making a conscious effort to rededicate yourself to Christ and his Church. As you wait for him, he is waiting for you, and he wants to give you a fresh start – no matter what the past year has been like for you.

Jim Papandrea
Associate Professor of Church History, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
www.JimPapandrea.com

Photo by Scott Carnes in France
New Seasons of Life
Yes, I’m a church nerd, but I always look forward to the season of Easter.  I look forward to a great Easter Sunday morning at church, yes,  but, then, I enjoy reveling in the ‘afterglow’ of the next few weeks.  I spend those weeks looking for signs of new life, reflecting on the experience of the cross, and expecting resurrection, not just because of old stories found in the Bible, but I expect signs of resurrection in the world around me.  I suppose signs of new life are always present, but I get excited about the season of Easter because it helps me to pay attention to the amazing things God is doing in this world.  This year, though, Easter wasn’t the season I expected it to be.
This year, I found myself tired as I came to Easter because I was doing a mandated (by the United Methodist Church) internship at BroMenn Regional Medical Center along with my full-time job.  Because of my exhaustion, I didn’t really take in Easter the way I ought to have, perhaps.  More devastating, however, was the abrupt end to our pregnancy after Carrie and I suffered a miscarriage.  A season that was supposed to draw my attention to new life became a season of loss and exhaustion.
Today, as I look toward Pentecost (this Sunday) and a new church season, I realize something, suddenly:  Even though I had a difficult season…there is hope.  I have an opportunity to let go of the troubled weeks of Eastertide and celebrate the hope of a new season in my own life.
You see, professionally, as I plan worship, I will set aside the themes and scriptures of Easter and I will prepare for a new season of different scriptures, songs, and worship themes.  I guess, in my personal life, I would do well to set aside the difficulties of these past weeks and months, in a similar way, and allow myself to focus on a new season and find hope for better weeks ahead!
For me, the hope that comes in a new season is:
  • the possibility of getting pregnant, again;
  • welcoming a new pastor to my church and fostering a new friendship;
  • renewing my own body and spirit this summer with exercise, right eating, and spiritual disciplines;
  • working on my relationship with my wife that the experience of this season would help us to deepen our relationship for the next.
As we leave the Easter season, we don’t leave behind the message of Christ or hope for the future.  Likewise, as we move from one season of life to the next we should never lose sight the experiences we have had, yet we have an opportunity to look for new life and experience resurrection.  Over these next weeks, I pray that we will continue to experience Christ’s resurrection and I pray that it will draw our attention to the resurrection all around us and help us to find renewal in our own lives!
blessings,
Living God’s Grace into the Future!


Today’s Scripture: Ephesians 4:17-24

  So I’m telling you this, and I insist on it in the Lord: you shouldn’t live your life like the Gentiles anymore. They base their lives on pointless thinking, and they are in the dark in their reasoning. They are disconnected from God’s life because of their ignorance and their closed hearts. They are people who lack all sense of right and wrong, and who have turned themselves over to doing whatever feels good and to practicing every sort of corruption along with greed.
  But you didn’t learn that sort of thing from Christ. Since you really listened to him and you were taught how the truth is in Jesus, change the former way of life that was part of the person you once were, corrupted by deceitful desires. Instead, renew the thinking in your mind by the Spirit  and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God’s image in justice and true holiness.


This scripture comes across as being a little holier-than-thou, doesn’t it?  It reminds me of those preachers who prey on people’s guilt:  “You’re a dirty rotten sinner, now let me tell you how I think you ought to act.”

But as I read this, I read something else in the scripture:  The old life is one of pointlessness, is dark, disconnected, hard-hearted, and filled with ignorance.  I can think of many times in my life when I experienced those things.  I hated it. Even the times that I didn’t recognize the darkness and trouble in my life, I look back now and remember the empty feeling.  I don’t think people want to live in darkness and pain.  I think people want a hope-filled and focused life filled with love.

We have a way out of the trouble and darkness.  Christ has shown us glimpses of what this world can look like and Christ shows us what love looks like.  The writer of Ephesians is inviting us to that freeing love.  We can let go of the problems and pain of the past and we can act with Christ’s love and experience freedom.

For me, this is the Easter experience and that is what I want my life to look like going forward.  I hope you’ll join me this easter as we let go of acting in ways that hurt (us and others) and will strive to live God’s grace into the future!

Blessings,
A Season of New Life

Today’s scripture:  1 Corinthians 15:1-11


Brothers and sisters, I want to call your attention to the good news that I preached to you, which you also received and in which you stand. You are being saved through it if you hold on to the message I preached to you, unless somehow you believed it for nothing. I passed on to you as most important what I also received: Christ died for our sins in line with the scriptures, he was buried, and he rose on the third day in line with the scriptures. He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve, and then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at once—most of them are still alive to this day, though some have died. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me, as if I were born at the wrong time. I’m the least important of the apostles. I don’t deserve to be called an apostle, because I harassed God’s church. I am what I am by God’s grace, and God’s grace hasn’t been for nothing. In fact, I have worked harder than all the others—that is, it wasn’t me but the grace of God that is with me. So then, whether you heard the message from me or them, this is what we preach and this is what you have believed.

This message of Paul is of Resurrection and New Life.  Paul is talking about Christ’s bodily resurrection, but he is also talking about his own experience of new life.  For Paul, experiencing Christ gave him something deeply personal and connected him with God in an incredible new way.  Most importantly this inward change brought an outward change as well.  He was convicted of the message of Christian-Jews, but he also changed the way in which he lived his daily life.  In fact, he became a wholly different person.

During the Season of Easter which starts on Easter Day (March 31) and runs through Pentecost (May 18) we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.  What does that mean?  God came to experience humanity, to experience all the facets of human-ness in order to love and be loved in a deeper way.  The experience of Easter is about experiencing God’s love in a personal way and the freeing experience of a new life in Christ.

For the remainder of the Easter Season you will hear stories of Resurrection and New Life from me and my friends through this blog.  Perhaps over the next few weeks you will be impacted in some way by the message of Christ and experience, through these writings, New Life!

Blessings,

Graphic created by Scott Carnes for First United Methodist Church, Normal, IL.  Copyright 2013

Resurrection & New Life: Questions are okay!

Meet Rev. Troy Venning


Rev. Troy Venning was a classmate of both my wife and I at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary where he graduated in 2011 with a Master of Divinity.  He is an itinerant Deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Church serving at Bethel AME Church in Downtown Miami.  He received an MBA from University of Phoenix (Ft. Lauderdale) and received his B.S. in Psychology from Xavier University of Louisiana.  Troy says, “Love is and has always been the key and if we love one another like Christ loved us (to death) then the world will change.”  I hope we can agree with him on that and all will welcome him as my newest guest blogger during Eastertide!



Questions are really ok…I promise

Today’s Scripture: John 20:19-29
When I was in Junior High School, I remember my English teacher. She was a very serious lady, especially in the classroom. Of all the things that I remember about her besides her glasses with the chain on them, the two things that stick out most are this t-shirt that she would occasionally wear and this mug that she drank coffee out of. The message on both the shirt and the mug were very similar but expressed in different ways…That message…”because I said so!” Deep right…but doesn’t that speak volumes to the position that adult takes towards children most times? Children are to seen and not heard…right?
 Oh, I forgot that is just me…
However, if we dared to be honest, we would admit that most believe that children should stay in their place, and they dare not ask questions. That is, they should not ask an adult a question. I would assert that the church is like that. This is so because we have been taught that when it comes to one’s relationship with God; that we must remain like a child who better not ask a question.
Quiet often (not everywhere) the church teaches people of God that as life comes and you experience the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows of life that we are just supposed to take whatever life throws us, not have an opinion and not question God one iota. But I mean is that really possible? Is it possible to be alive and not have questions about one’s daily experiences?  Life continues to happen and if you keep living, you will have questions. Sickness, poverty, death, failure, heartbreak, injustice, racism, hatred, classism, sexism, I could go on and on…but the fact of the matter is, that in life all of these things will come.
Thus I write today to remind you that when they come, that God is big enough to handle and is ok with any question that you may have. I know this because of Jesus posture and position Jesus to when addressing Thomas and the disciples after his death and resurrection. The disciples had questions; they had just experienced excruciating pain as they watched their leader get executed. They were afraid; for them all had been lost and because of that reason, I can attest that they had questions. The disciples all had questions, each one of them. Thomas and the others all had questions and Jesus new that. The difference with “doubting” Thomas and the others; he was bold enough to verbalize his questions. Whereas the others, simply operated in fear unable to say what was troubling them.
Maybe today as you are reading, you have unanswered questions that you are afraid to ask; know today that no matter how big or small…God is big enough to answer every one of your questions.  The Good news for you and me is that no matter your question, God will meet you right where you are. How do I know? Look at the way God reacts to our questions. What is Jesus’s response in the story of doubting Thomas? He sends the disciples a word that should set them at ease, when it didn’t, he went looking for them. When he found them he granted them peace and he gave them (the disciples as a group and Thomas individually) a tailor made response. Beloved God knows that you have questions even when they are unspoken like the disciples. Maybe you are bold like Thomas, guess what God is big enough to handle your questions…still not convinced that questions are ok…ask Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Elijah Jeremiah, Job, David and then there was Jesus and the ultimate question…My God, my God…why has thou forsaken me?
Beloved, know that questions are fine. In fact the ability to question is a gift from God. Read your bible, you will find out that you are not the only one that has questions. In fact, the beauty of the cross is relationship and restoration…at the end of the day God would much rather being in dialogue with you than for to be engaged in a monologue…Ask away, trust me God is big enough to handle all of your questions…In fact, God is waiting and ready to answer because God loves you.
Copyrights © 2012 by Troy K. Venning. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be copied or reproduced without the written permission of the author. To contact the writer go to troyvenningmba@aol.com
title image found at:  http://alirog.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/raised-hands11.jpg
Resurrection & New Life: The Waiting Game

Meet Rev. Cynthia Wilson

Rev. Cynthia Wilson is the Dean of Students at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. The Rev.Wilson is a native of New Orleans, LA. She is an Ordained Deacon in The United Methodist Church, a graduate of Dillard University and Southern Methodist University Perkins School of Theology and studied Liturgical Studies at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.  She is a sought-after worship leader, gammy-nominated musician, and preacher and I am honored (and humbled) to have her share with us, here on my blog this Easter season!






The Waiting Game
In the workplace, from Monday through Thursday, most employees anticipate the weekend. Then finally, TGIF!! Thank God it’s Friday!! Yet, for Jesus’ followers, Friday brought with it a sense of utter dismay, rejection, abandonment and hopelessness. Jesus had promised to be with them always. Later, he would announce his departure…but had given no indication that he would be murdered… lynched! So what was so “Good” about this Friday?  And then there was Saturday! How would they get through this in-between day? Would Sunday EVER come?
According to John’s gospel (14:18), Jesus had already promised to send help in his absence; a Comforter/ Mediator, the Paraclete. However, after his departure, the disciples were to do one thing and one thing only: WAIT! Have you ever been put on hold? How do you respond when asked to hang on, holdup, take pause, be patient? It is a grueling period of time; a delay when one is expected to be on the lookout for something or someone to arrive. The disciples are instructed to wait for the Promise. What was this promise? “John was baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”(Acts 1:4)
In retrospect, we know that from Crucifixion Friday to Resurrection Sunday, the disciples stood on the threshold of a new harvest. Yet, they still had to play the waiting game. It would be 50 days after Jesus was killed at the hands of the so-called powerful elite that his followers would truly recognize how good Friday had really been, and how Saturday had actually served as a bridge to a whole new dispensation. However, THIS time there would not only be the Feast of Firstfruits: Passover. Additionally,the Promise would yield a harvest providing power for those whom Jesus had called to help establish the Christian Church. This power would help produce the ultimate crop! In conjunction with the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Pentecost would call for a new table where “creators of justice and joy” could sit together irrespective of culture, creed, race, gender, economic status, doctrine, creed, pedigree, or political persuasion. This power would radically transform the world.
The disciples finally discovered how absence and presence are intricately woven together in God’s kin-dom. It is in the waiting game that God’s conspicuous absence efficaciously reveals God’s Divine Presence in our lives.
Let’s call an eyewitness to testify: “….we also have the Firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we are saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Rom. 8:23b-25
I don’t mind waiting……how about you?
…………to be continued!
Resurrection & New Life: God At Work


Meet Andrew Mortonson





My guest blogger, today, is Andrew Mortonson.  He is a member of First United Methodist Church in Green Bay, Wisconsin and is active at the Wesley Foundation at the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign (UIUC) where he will (in August) finish his Masters degree in Aerospace Engineering.  …And I am really proud of Andrew’s most recent announcement:  He has already gotten a job with Rolls-Royce as an Engineering Associate after graduation!






Beginning to See God at Work



Today’s Scripture:  Luke 24:45-49


There was always a plan – a reason, a goal for tomorrow. I had always known the next step in life and was always fully prepared to take it. I had a stable family, good education, and a loving church home. I knew where I would go to college since before I started high school, and there was never really any question I would get in. I was blessed in many ways as a child. 


I grew up in the church, and for a large part, my faith was always laid out before me. Unlike many of the other kids my age at church, I learned and grew in my faith and continued being an active participant after confirmation. Being an active Christian wasn’t necessarily the cool thing to do, but in a Christian community like Green Bay, you never are really challenged in your faith. I often found myself in more discussions with other denominations, especially Catholics. 

When I went to college, I moved into a fraternity, and most of my influences were anything but Godly. I continued to succeed in school, but I felt incomplete and often alone. The summer after my freshman year, people from my home church asked me if I had found a new church to serve at school. When I admitted I hadn’t, they often encouraged me too look, or gave suggestions. I agreed that I would look at the Wesley foundation on campus, partly just to keep people off my back. I fortunately found a new home and gained many new supportive friends.

For the next two years, I felt like I knew where I belonged. While I occasionally struggled with friends and classes, I knew that God was providing for me. However, in my senior year, that feeling began to fade. I thought I had lost God’s call; I wasn’t really sure what my future path should be. I graduated college with Honors, but like far too many people that year, I had no job, and returned to live at home. Once again, I felt very much alone. Even though I was living with my family and had many loving people around me, I was completely lost.

I can understand what the Disciples must have felt around the crucifixion. Only a week before, they entered with Jesus triumphantly into Jerusalem. Going to serve with Jesus was not easy, but I’m sure after a while, they all felt like they were where they belonged. Only a few days later, they were lost, and felt very much alone. 

My story did not turn around in just three days, yet I know that even in those times, God was working in my life. I began to get involved in the praise band at my home church, and the other members often helped remind me that I was not alone. But the real point where I began to see God working was when one of the women in the church came up to me and started asking me details about my life. She knew that I had been looking for a job, and she wanted to know what kind of job, and what I was interested in. Then she told me that she needed to know all of this so she could properly pray for me. She prayed with me, and hugged me and promised me that her prayer group would continue to keep me in her prayers. 

It was about this time that things started to turn around. I applied to grad school and began to attend that fall. Through the two years that I have been studying, I only recently was assured funding for the remainder of my program, but I trusted wholly in God. Within a few months of returning to school, I began dating the woman who became my fiancée, and now within the last week, I was offered a job after graduation. Almost exactly the position I had wanted three years earlier. 

After Jesus arose on Easter, the Disciples went on to spread the gospel throughout the world. But they needed fellowship and support from other believers, and to fully place their trust in Jesus. In the same way, I could not be where I am today without the prayers of family and friends and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Even more, I know that I can impact the lives of others simply through words of prayer and support. At our lowest points, the promise of God’s perfect grace, through the resurrection, allows us to put all of our faith in Him. In Luke 24, Jesus appeared before the disciples who had gathered after the crucifixion. 

“Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’” Luke 24:45-49 (NIV)




**top image found at:  http://imlivinginadream.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/on-101-goals/
**image of Andrew Mortonson found on his Facebook.

Resurrection & New Life:  Hid In Christ

image from http://christianbackgrounds.info/the-cross-sunshine/





I’d like to introduce today’s guest blogger, Adrienne Trevathan.  She is the Director of Christian Education at Northminster Presbyterian (the church where I interned during seminary).  She is a 2009 graduate of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary where she attained a master of divinity.






Our lives are hid with Christ in God.
Scripture:  Colossians 3:1-3
There is a lot at stake when we talk about our beliefs about resurrection.  There are many different ways to speak of the resurrection of Jesus, and different meanings we attach to it.  What has struck me particularly this year is the idea that when Chrsit rises from death, we also rise with him.  In the same way that we observe Lent and remember the suffering of the cross, we ourselves “rise” in a sense as we welcome Easter.   There is something about our identity that is hidden in God, that we uncover (and continue to uncover) as we live as followers of Christ.

When we live as people with hope, who willingly follow someone who knowingly walked into death and danced right out of it, we come a bit closer to finding our true identity.

When we surround ourselves with others who join us in making this proclamation, “He is risen!,”

we are able to understand the deepest part of ourselves that God is preparing to use to address needs in the world; needs not only of our brothers and sisters, but of all creation.  The groaning of creation is matched by the longing within us to make meaning in life.  We have the responsibility of cultivating the Spirit in our lives so that we are able to recognize and respond those signs of new life when they spring up (often in unexpected places).

When Christ rises, we rise – together.  Our identity is no longer static or predictable; what we can become together is a mystery and possibility.  It is a reason to rejoice.
Resurrection & New Life: Power of Death & Resurrection


image found at:  http://www.romanempiretours.com/

Left, Tou Yang

Today I invite to my blog Tou Yang who will be my guest blogger.  He will take a few minutes to give you some background on the Roman world and what Resurrection means to him.  Tou is a student at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and an intern at Christway United Methodist Youth Ministries.



The Power of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection In Everyday Life

The Roman Empire used violence as a way to control large populations throughout their conquered lands. One example of this violence was through crucifixion on a cross such as endured by Jesus. Crucifixion was not only seen as a consequence for not conforming to Roman law but it was also a form of humiliation to the individual and the individual’s family. This act was meant to oppress the very spirit of the people and to dehumanize the non-Roman citizens. This made Jesus’ crucifixion not only physically painful but also psychologically painful to the local population and Jesus’ family.  

Jesus’ resurrection was proved God’s victory over death but just as important it gave hope to the followers of Jesus that victory was possible in the face of Roman oppression. “Carrying the cross” was no longer something to be feared but instead became an empowering image and a sign of hope over the punishment of death. Even though Jesus’ movement was broken with the death of its leader it was made whole again both physically and spiritually by the news of Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. The fact that Jesus’ death did not mean the end of his believers or the end of Jesus’ ministry gave inspiration to future apostles such as Paul to share Jesus’ message with full confidence.

Jesus’ victory over the cross and oppression is still a powerful and relevant message for today. Everyday hundreds of millions people all around the world face oppressive social and political systems meant to destroy the will and beliefs of the individual. Through Jesus’ example there is hope for redemption and restoration even in the worst conditions. Not that suffering should be a part of life nor that oppression is needed to understand the resurrection of Jesus but that suffering and oppression is not the end of life. That even when we face the brokenness of everyday life no matter big or small we can be reassured of God’s ever restoring power and victory over oppression. The power of Christ’s death and resurrection is not only connected to an event that happened 2000 years ago or a future apocalyptic event but can be understood and relevant everyday of our lives.  That is the true power of Easter. That is the true power of the love of God.