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Resurrection Days

By Scott Guyatt, Synod Project Officer

We’re talking a lot about renewal at the moment in the hallowed halls of the Uniting Church.

Renewal of congregations and faith communities. Renewal of our approaches to discipleship and mission. Even renewal in our systems and structures.

When we talk about renewal, it seems to me we’re talking about new life, new energy, new enthusiasm, recovery from brokenness, restoration to wholeness, and refreshing.

And at this time of year in particular, it’s hard not to think about resurrection.

We are after all, are we not, a people of the resurrection? Our faith is grounded in Christ, the one who lived, demonstrated, taught, encouraged, and then died for all of us before being resurrected. Jesus’ resurrection is perhaps the ultimate demonstration of renewal.

There are big themes and deep theological questions when we start unpacking resurrection. Sunday follows Saturday, and Saturday follows Friday, for example. There is no resurrection without the death that precedes it. Big, deep questions…that I’ll leave those for others much more equipped than I.

Instead, I find myself wondering about those first few days for Jesus’ after Easter.’

What choices did he make with his time? When time was tight, what mattered most? What priorities can we see in the resurrected life of Jesus before his ascent to be with the Father? What can we learn if we pay close attention?

I’ve said before I’m quite captured by Michael Frost’s definition of mission: “the demonstration and declaration of the reign of God through Christ.” The Basis of Union, in words echoed in Frost’s definition, describes the purpose of the church as being an “instrument through which Christ may work and bear witness to himself” (Paragraph 3).

I reckon there’s an argument that Jesus stayed true to course in those first resurrected days, demonstrating and declaring God’s reign, working and bearing witness.

So, if that’s true of those first resurrection days, what do we see? The gospels record Jesus encouraging the women who came to his tomb, dealing with doubters among his followers, walking the road, listening, teaching, unpacking the good news story (again!), practising hospitality, commissioning the community to make disciples and putting the love of God into action.

Two things come to mind.

First, that sounds a whole lot like the ways Jesus spent his pre-resurrection days.

Second, are there lessons for our church as we seek, explore and unpack this notion of renewal? The things we should be about as a renewed church, as a people of the resurrection, are no secret. They’re right before us in Jesus’ first resurrection days: love, encourage, teach, equip, live out our discipleship and invite others into the journey.

I can’t help but think that maybe those things are true for each of us individually, true for us as communities of faith, and true for us as part of the whole big, incredible, amazing body of Christ: declare and demonstrate so that Christ may work and bear witness.

May your post-Easter days be a reminder to follow Jesus into new life.

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