When many of us take a step outside, it’s impossible to miss the signs of springtime. In some places, the trees are flowering, the air feels a little warmer and fresh, and signs of life emerge from the cold, once-frozen ground. Just as some of our physical surroundings are bringing forth new life, we hope that all of us see the beginning signs of new life budding within our church. As we look towards the hope of Easter, how might we extend that Easter joy to others? How do we balance our joyful celebration of Christ’s resurrection with the enduring reality of our fallen world? How might we celebrate new life and new hope in Jesus Christ, allowing a new or renewed vision for worship and mission to emerge.
We find a renewed vision and mission when we accept as fact Gods’ radical incarnation and when we are personally grateful for the God who humbled himself as a sinner among sinners. The God who fell prey to death and succumbed to the power of brokenness as we do describes a God worth following and worshipping and working with.
Our resurrected Lord is the first concrete fruit of the “new heavens and earth” (Isa. 65:17; see 1 Cor. 15:20). The church’s first mission is to faithfully proclaim the newness of God’s kingdom of grace, forgiveness, and promised return. Scripture gives us several ways to illustrate this gospel. God’s love and mercy are “new every morning” (Lam. 3:23). Jesus often likens the kingdom to the agricultural cycle, which is new every year, which some of you are personally familiar with.
But of course, the most personal and powerful testimony is your story. the newness of the regenerated, converted life is powerful, which is what the text in John depicts. “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark,” a literary clue that something new was about to dawn, Mary discovers the empty tomb. While Peter and presumably John return home without understanding……. Mary lingers and encounters the new Jesus.