The Scope of Easter

(A Lection Reflection on Easter)

One of the important concepts we use in project work is “scope.” It refers, of course, to the reach of the project or initiative. Does this web site rebuild involve only the interface, or are there new features included? Are we remodeling both bathrooms, or just the master? How many counties are included in your housing assistance fund? Getting agreement on scope is critical to ensuring that everyone understands the project the same way.

What, then, is the scope of Easter? Is it an important symbolic story, from which we draw meaning? Is it a factual one-time event, that we look back to and celebrate? Or is there some scope, some reach, that we are missing?

(Let me note right up front that this is not going to be an exposition on the historicity of the Resurrection. I certainly have a position on that question — but that is not the point of this reflection. Arguing about the historicity without considering scope is like arguing about the color of the bathroom walls when you haven’t thought about whether you’re doing the kitchen too.)

This Sunday, people around the world will celebrate Easter. They will sing the hymns once again, they will hear the story, and when it is all done, they will leave the service. And the operative word in that sentence is “leave” — they will leave the Easter event behind, to be considered again twelve months from now.

I have long believed that Easter is more than a one-time event. Easter is a recurring event, a recurring process, that God is constantly initiating, constantly engaged in. Resurrection is one of those things that God is about in the world.

Here’s what I mean: The love and power of God that raised Jesus from that grave is still at work in the world, reinvigorating people and relationships and situations and institutions and communities. God is in the business of bringing life, even when death seems like the only possibility, the only reality.

Is it possible for something to come back to life through human efforts? Of course. Companies, marriages, relationships — all can be and have been resurrected through the good work of good people.

But — there are also times when the God of Easter brings Resurrection into the picture. There are situations where the God of Life breathes new life into something that was definitely dead. There are relationships, and churches, and programs, where something happens, some spark of the eternal takes hold, and we look back later and say in wonder, That was a God thing.

This Sunday, we will celebrate the Resurrection of the Christ from that tomb hundreds of years ago. Let us also celebrate the possibility of Resurrection in our lives and situations today. Let us remember that the scope of Easter includes all of life — indeed, all of creation. And just as we believe that one day God will make all things new, let us also affirm that between the first Easter and that last Easter, there can be many Easters throughout our lives. For the power and love of Resurrection is not limited in scope.

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