We’re well into the season of Easter these days. If what we as Christians proclaim is true, we’re living in a post resurrection, new life in Christ, conquered hell, sting-less death world. And it’s beautiful. Except when week four of Easter is a whole lot more reminiscent of Lent than a glorious free-spirited worship service and the Easter lilies are wilting and the chocolate has all been eaten. What then? Where is Easter when we’re back to the grind of school and work and there is still a refugee crisis and the world is holding its breath while American politics are in an uproar? Where is Easter when people are still being diagnosed with cancer and marriages are still falling apart?
N.T. Wright says it best. We live in the already-not-yet where the Kingdom of God has broken in, but it’s not yet fully realized. But where is it breaking in? Where is the resurrected Christ in a world that still screams of the chaos of brokenness?
We saw snapshots of the Resurrection in our community this past Saturday. I arrived at the church early, though not as early as I intended due to the pajama-clad three-year-old hanging around my neck as I attempted to walk out the door. Last minute preparations for a garage sale fundraiser for one of our mum’s groups were underway. We worked and laughed and sorted alongside each other. People came. They shopped. We raised money. They asked questions about the church and the play group. We answered them. We were present in the community.
Just down the road, Jaron volunteered at a neighborhood primary school gala. When I popped down, I got to meet some of his Thursday night tennis buddies and some parents of the neighborhood kids who frequent our driveway. We worked and laughed and watched our kids play alongside each other. We were getting to know the community.
Immediately following, a crew of young and ambitious volunteers joined us for some much needed pruning of the church gardens. The thing about New Zealand is that everything grows. A lot. Electric hedge trimmers in hand, we talked and laughed and bagged up overgrown vines. The kids giggled and shared bananas and rode recklessly on plastic tricycles. We were building community.
The last load of weeds was barely in route the compost when our Telugu Indian congregation began arriving for a monthly worship service. We sang, we prayed, we heard the Word, and we broke bread (in the form of spicy chicken curry and rice). We were a worshiping community.
Oh sure. You could say we had a garage sale, Jaron manned the axe throwing station (Yep. New Zealand keeps things exciting.), we worked in the church gardens and then showed up dirty and under dressed for a worship service. Or, you could see—as we do—that these are signs of life where things had gone dormant, the body of Christ being formed among people who didn’t know each other six months ago, little shoots beginning to sprout up and giving evidence to the Resurrection.
As people who are privileged to live on this side of the resurrection, we have the responsibility of identifying and sharing the places we see signs of life—signs of Resurrection breaking through like little shoots springing forth from the ground. And then we have the responsibility of partnering with God in those places—to nurture them and help them grow and create space for more sprouts. Sometimes Resurrection life takes place in the form of dramatic healing and radical forgiveness. Other times, it looks like garage sales and gardening and curry on a Saturday.
If you’re keen on (like that little kiwi phrase there?) thinking about Resurrection and where it might be happening in your corner world and how God might desire to use you to partner with him in that resurrection life, take a few minutes to check out this episode of The Practice Podcast. A weekly resource from Willow Creek, this particular episode provides a helpful framework for seeing Resurrection stories all around us. In the meantime, may God give us eyes to see Resurrection life happening all around us and the courage to join in. We are anticipating many more signs of life around Crossroads church and Hamilton—evidence that we do indeed live on this side of Easter—in the days to come.