For Christians, Easter is the high point of the year. The joyous affirmation, "Christ is risen!" calls forth the response, "He is risen, indeed!" Along with the regulars on Easter Sunday, there are others in attendance: those who want to please family members, or former churchgoers there for an anniversary visit. Sheer, radiant joy is palpable.
In one of the Iona Community Worship Services this invitation is offered: "So come to this table, You who have much faith and you who would like to have more; You who have been to this sacrament often, and you who have not been for a long time; You who have tried to follow Jesus, and you who have failed. Come. It is Christ who invites us to meet him here."
Easter is the Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Even those who are reluctant and uncomfortable come because there is a tiny little hope that this "resurrection business" and "new life" might mean something to them. They come to experience salvation and redemption because, in the original Greek, salvation means healing.
To be redeemed is to have someone else pay to get us out of a bad place. So all of us hope for salvation and redemption. The invitation to more faith is appealing. There are those attending who hope this time, maybe something will have an impact.
Thich Nhat Hanh has observed: "You cannot talk about apple juice to someone who has not tasted it. No matter what you say, the other person will not have the true experience of apple juice. The only way is to drink it."
That the church exists and has continued is proof of the reality of Easter. Still, I'm not convinced that the standard message from the Bible or pulpit always addresses our hope for salvation and redemption. The story is pretty unbelievable, at least on the face of it.
If Thich Nhat Hanh is correct and we Christians claim to have had the "true experience of apple juice" as it were, we often aren't a very good advertisement. We Christians claiming to be "resurrection people" can still be difficult and deceitful.
Despite that reality, hope remains.
In the seasons leading up to Christmas and Easter, church attendance peaks, the celebration of the birth of God or the Resurrection from the dead are old, archetypal themes. I think we go to church on the Feast days because we hope for a response to our human need for love, for understanding and for being heard. Could it have something to meet my deep needs? To heal my hurting? To reassure my doubt?
Maybe this stuff does have something to do with me. Perhaps that which is beyond our understanding and reason wants to contact us, to reassure us, to love us.
At such point that we feel this to be true, we begin to live differently. Life is indeed new. What we thought was dead has been resurrected. Easter happens.
The Psalmist invites us, "O taste and see that the Lord is good." My prayer is that will be your experience at worship this Easter. Along with that, I pray that your hope will be strengthened and your faith renewed.
The Rev. Dorothy P. Knudson is retired from active ministry. but still preaches regularly and Congregational and Presbyterian churches in Eastern Oregon Presbytery. She can be reached by e-mail at dpknudWhotmail.com. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.