Easter thoughts from local church representatives

What is the most important word for Easter? Love
By Bob Evans
Reader Contributor

It seems the more I digest the mysteries surrounding the declaration of eternal life made by the disciples of the one called, Christ, the more at a loss for words I become. It is not good for a preacher to run out of words, but the most important word for Easter that comes to the surface from my inmost self is “love.” As gravity is the glue that holds the universe together, love is the force that gives life to, and drives the creative impulse that brings us into existence. Easter reveals to us divine ecstatic love, and that God is the eternal verb continually making things new.

Easter’s loving message is also the answer, for many, to humanity’s question of whether or not there is any meaning to life and what its source of power is. The Catch 22 in these statements is that they are only true for “believers.” “Believers in what?” some might ask. First, it is simply to believe that there is an answer to our question concerning life and our place in it.

Bob Evans.

Jesus is at the center of Christian believers’ search for meaning, so we look at his actions and words left to us by his disciples that, in many ways, only seem to complicate our search. Many take the words of our scripture as literal history, while others see them as poetry, metaphor, and using the symbols of prophetic language and archetypical images to quicken our hearts to an awareness of our communion with beingness and eternal life. 

Easter is the final conflict between selfishness and selflessness, between what we ought to do and what we really do, between who we think we are and who we are in the eye of the creative mystery we call God. The cross symbolizes that point where finite time intersects with the eternal in which, in the words of an Emmylou Harris song, “There is no time, but there is day and night.” Of course, this is where what Christians call the “Judgment” takes place; this is the place we let go of selfishness. 

Those of us who are disciples of Christ have taken up our cross and determined to follow Jesus in letting go of the false self. This has to do with riding ourselves of our sacred biases which are those judgmental prejudices that allow us to look at others as less worthy, while claiming them as God given. It is these prejudices that keep us from becoming aware of our purpose and meaning as children of the Eternal. These must be, in the words of our myth, “crucified on the cross.” But that is only part of the disciple’s journey to the cross and resurrection with Jesus; we must replace these biases with compassion, mercy and divine love for all creation. 

Easter is the celebration of this awareness of one’s true self as an eternal part of God’s image which can only be comprehended by the believer who has learned to let go of his or her sacred biases while becoming a vessel of God’s love. Jesus entire life is depicted as dedicated to doing God’s will and revealing God’s gift of divine communion empowered by “Love Divine, All Love’s Excelling.”

Jesus path to the cross is written to instill in us a heart big enough to love others enough to die for them as he did. This journey teaches us to see creation more clearly through the eye of God, which is to make God’s name known and is synonymous with the symbol, “Resurrected with Christ.”

Bob Evans is a husband and father of six grown children. He have studied Eastern Philosophy at the University of Saskatchewan and hold an MDiv from Bangor Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minister at the Emerge ‘N See United Church of Christ in Sandpoint.

Easter 2019: The difference Resurrection makes
By Eric Rust
Reader Contributor

Five-year-old Timmy was excited about this year’s Easter program. His line was the most important — the words of the angel seated outside the empty tomb who said, “He is not here, he is risen.” Unfortunately, when his moment came, he could not remember his line. His preschool leader walked over and quietly whispered to him. Timmy’s eyes got big and he confidently grabbed the microphone, shouting, “He’s not here; He’s in prison!”

So close Timmy… so close.

Eric Rust.

There is nothing more fantastic than the claim that Jesus rose from the dead. We call this claim the resurrection, and its veracity has dramatic implications for you and for me.

The Bible records an insightful encounter between Jesus and some of his closest followers on the evening of his resurrection. John, one of Jesus’ closest followers records the event for us in his biography (The Gospel of John).

Shortly after sunset, we find 10 of Jesus’ closest followers hiding inside a house. John tells us that the room they were sitting in is rife with fear. The door is locked, the window shades drawn and the lanterns turned low. Their leader, Jesus, has just been arrested and killed, and they know that in all likelihood they are next. So they do the only thing that makes sense in the moment. They hide. 

Then in an instant, everything changes. The author, John, was there when this happened, and he makes a point to tell us the door was locked. “Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! ’Peace be with you,’ he said.” (John 20:19) Imagine: Without a knock, without a key, the resurrected Jesus is suddenly standing among them. Jesus was not limited by a locked door.

This means that in your life, Jesus can go where no one else can go.

He can go where no counselor can go. He can go where no doctor can go. He can go where no lover can go. There is no depth, no hidden recess within you that Jesus cannot reach.

Jesus steps through the door — he steps into their circle — he puts himself right in the middle of their fear, and he speaks into existence the very thing they desperately needed — peace! “Peace be with you.”

I find that peace is one of our greatest needs and fear one of our greatest battles.

Fear of my future.

Fear I won’t perform well enough on the field/test/job/etc.

Fear my children will lose their way.

Fear the money will run out.

Fear I’m going to die.

Fear I’m insignificant.

I had a bout with fear just last week. For three days I obsessed, catastrophized, and worried over something that (at the time) felt like a big deal. And then I stumbled on these four simple words from Jesus—“Peace be with you.”

Jesus says by word and action, “I come to you when you are experiencing fear and chaos. I don’t wait for you to get your act together. My peace is most needed in the midst of chaos.”

So this Easter, resurrection announces that Jesus is not held prisoner by death. Sorry Timmy, but Jesus has risen! And Jesus desires to meet you where you need it most.

Eric and Nicole Rust serve as the lead pastors of Cedar Hills Church in Sandpoint. They’d love to invite you to one this weekend’s Easter gatherings — Saturday, April 20, at 6 p.m., or Sunday, April 21, at  8 a.m., 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. For more information, check out www.cedarhillschurch.com.

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