On Faith: Focus turns to stories during Easter season
Here we are a couple of weeks into the "season" of Easter, and not unlike what happens with Christmas, most of us have moved on from our Easter celebration, looking forward to our plans for summer.
In the church, the Easter season is a 50-day celebration lasting until the day of Pentecost. The word "Pentecost" means "50th day" in Greek. It was during the Jewish Festival of Weeks that the followers of Jesus were celebrating in Jerusalem and on the 50th day (Pentecost) they experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit upon them (Acts: Chapter 2).
But here in the season of Easter, the church focuses on the Gospel stories of experiences with the risen Jesus as well as stories of the experiences of the very early church from the book of Acts.
There are stories of those first disciples moving from fear for their very lives because of what took place on Calvary on Good Friday, to their wrestling with what to do with the story told by the women who went to the Tomb of Jesus at dawn on that first Easter Day and receiving the message that Jesus was not there but had risen.
And the Gospel of John's telling of Jesus appearing to the disciples behind locked doors, showing them the wounds of crucifixion on his hands and side, and sending them forth into the world as God had sent him to continue his work.
For those who are disciples of Jesus, this Easter message of Jesus' resurrection is the central message of our faith. It is the very core of who we are as his followers. If there is no resurrection, there would be no Christian church. No recording of Jesus teachings or miracles. No Christmas or Easter celebrations and no season of Easter for us to celebrate. Jesus would have simply been a footnote in Jewish historical literature. And we would never have heard of John the Baptist, Peter, James, John, Andrew, Judas or any of the other followers.
There would be no recalling of the events of the early church, no Paul or others who spread the message beyond the region of Palestine. And there would not be 2,000 years of church history — both the good and the bad.
This is not about proving the Resurrection; you can't prove it listing what would not have taken place. The Resurrection is a matter of faith for Christians. The season of Easter is focused on faith stories. Stories told of experiences of those first disciples.
The life of a disciple of Jesus is focused on faith stories — hearing them, telling them, sharing them.
But it is not only about the stories of those first disciples. It is also about the faith stories of modern-day disciples, sharing our experiences of the faith, what it means for us to be followers of Jesus in our daily lives. It is the purpose of the church gathering weekly, to hear and share faith stories.
Being strengthened through the Word and the Sacraments. Exploring the stories of the Christian faith — ancient and current and everything in between, stories that strengthen and renew our own personal stories of faith.
Gathering in worship together for prayer and praise.
Strengthened in the faith and sent out into the world to share the faith stories — in general and more importantly, the personal ones.
"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.