9 Apr 2015

How you and I can live Easter/Kingdom

Why do we love Easter?

When I was young, the church gave us red eggs. It was a treat! There was also so much more smiling, an air of happiness and celebration. Jesus rose from the dead! He is alive!

Then Jesus' resurrection moved from eggs to inquiry: did he really rise from the dead? Where is the evidence?

Then it moved on some more. Easter was not to vindicate that I chose a better faith - one that was sound, true, and powerful - but it was God about doing something; and giving me a chance to be a part of it.

This final understanding continues to unfold for me.

It began as some rather vague connection about defeating death and so guaranteeing eternal life, proving heaven is real, facing down death.. and then moved on to: overcoming, healing, freedom ..
Indeed, one can attach a host of true as well as romantic notions to the  Easter event. I have even read that Jesus' first appearance to women was a woman's right triumph! All shades of the religious spectrum interpret and use the Easter event to great effect {minus the bunnies and chocolates}.

But to get to what Easter is about; we have to get Jesus. It was his triumph to begin with. It was he who embraced the death, reckoned with the powers, entered the abyss, and then rose!

To make sense of Easter then, we would have to trace what he has been saying and how he has been living. We would have to observe what mattered to him - what he would have been willing to die for.

Jesus' message is the Kingdom of God.
"repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand"
It is a message continuous with the story God revealed and preserved in the Torah. In fact, Jesus used the Torah on several occasions to connect who he is, and what he did with God's great act of deliverance and with God Himself. Jesus did not hide his divinity or the Divine Agenda he was about.
“If I, with the finger of God, cast out demons among you, then the Kingdom of God has come near to you” {reference to Moses}

Followers of Jesus need to know this. Seekers of truth need to ponder this. Pursuers of passion need to grapple with this.

Jesus lived the Kingdom in his words and his ways. It was pretty scandalous in his day -

Welcoming children.
Talking with women and even granting them status as disciples, and accepting support from them
Befriending the dubious and doubtful
Leading a team of not-quite-theres
Both observing religious obligations and breaking them 

Wait --- it looks like it would still be pretty scandalous today!

Children - we can talk a lot about them; but in Singapore, they are still the fringe. From school hours to performance expectations; we don't consider their needs but demand they fit our economic framework. I was appalled to hear that school buses ply as early as 5.45am because they want to leave on time to ferry factory workers. Don't we have enough to nationalise/subsidise transport for our children if we want to? We can make the buses go round robin in estates to send all children to schools in an area? All those minibuses that serve condominiums can be tapped on?

Women - all we ever talk about is women making it on par with men! That is our measure. Women make wonderful disciples, leaders, evangelists and so on in all seasons of their lives. We are designed to multi-task, to adapt to seasons, to nurture and build community. Interestingly, these obvious traits are now seen as useful in the boardroom {yet again}. In our world that equates worth with economic value; many women are not valued: home-makers, care-givers, wives, grandmothers...Too little imagination is allowed for women to flourish as creatives, community builders, life-shapers unless it comes with a label called 'work' or 'entrepreneur'.

Doubting? Not quite reformed? - Most of them are walking around in the corridors of our church; some are even leading up front. But is there a safe space for them to share their questions; to be helped to grow and overcome? We are impatient for change, growth, commitment. After three years with Jesus, the disciples were still very clueless and unformed in many ways. We need to handle the tension that with the indwelling Holy Spirit in believers today; amazing growth can happen. Yet, some seem to to be given more to doubt and skepticism. But where there is a seed of faith; give it time to germinate.

Dream team? - Not a few of the 12 smelt fishy - they had issues. They weren't sterling model citizens. My bug bear? We gravitate like bugs to a light when it comes to selecting leaders: let's go with the rich, successful, respectable {which can also mean busy, and quite set in their ways}. I have met and worked with many amazing leaders; but this approach can dangerously load huge Egos onto the wagon. Conflict that's in the end all about personality - too many to name.

But I am heartened because we are growing up, people!

I have met individuals who have overhauled their lifestyles, who reach out to children, the fringe, the sick, the elderly. Individuals who care for the earth. Individuals who take their voice all the way up to the Parliament.
There are those who work with passion from the ground up to change mindsets, instil hope, create social spaces and conversations that ignite imagination and free souls.
There are groups that want to foster a richer, deeper connection with God.
There are groups made up of Kingdom ragamuffins who want to help each other along.

Signs of the Kingdom!

What about you? Which aspect of the Kingdom stirs within you? Put your hand to the plough and work at it. Follow Jesus!

Here's an idea for you to find clues to your Kingdom portion:
read the Gospels slowly. Savour the stories and the words. Which one repeatedly jumps up at you? Which one moves you to tears? Which one made you sigh and wished you were present; and what would you be doing there?

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