Hans Kung, a great German theologian of the last generation, reported on a conversation he had with Rudolf Bultmann, a great German theologian of the previous generation. Kung asked the famously skeptical Bultmann whether he felt that Christ lives because we believe in him. In other words, is Christ alive only because we remember him? That would mean that Easter is really the story of the church keeping Christ alive by its memory of him and its preaching of him as Lord and Savior.
“No,” said Bultmann, “Christ does not live because we believe in him; we believe in him because he lives.”
On Easter, we do not keep Christ alive. Christ keeps us alive. He opens up the tombs of our own making and banishes the forces of death in all the forms we embrace them; jealousy and fear – gone! Greed and envy – get out! Cowardice and narcissism – get out right now!
In the 1930’s there was a Christian missionary in Burma who had spent many, many years among the people there telling them of the love of Jesus Christ and good news of the Christian Gospel. The missionary developed a very serious disease and it was known that he would die within the next year or so. His friends urged him to return home, to fly back to Great Britain so that he could say farewell to his friends and family. The missionary refused. He decided to remain in Burma, among the Burmese Christians in the final months of his life. His friends asked him why. He explained, “Unless I die there, they will not believe that I love them.”
For love of you, Jesus died here, among us. By the power of the resurrection, the tomb prepared for Jesus has been emptied, the very power of death broken, and new life brought to the light of God’s new day. Let us walk together into the shining light and new life of Easter!
Your friend and fellow minister,
Rev. Steve Savides