Every year we join the cycle of our lives to the life of Christ – his life in Advent and Epiphany, his suffering and death in Lent, his resurrection in Eastertide and his reign expressed through the church in Pentecost and ordinary time. In fasting, feasting, through story and prayer, in communal processing and silent retreat we are seeking to bring the everyday stuff of our lives under the pattern of eternity, echoing Paul’s own desires that we would no longer live on our own, but that Christ would live in us and that the life we now live in the flesh we would live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us (Gal. 2:20).
Over the last several weeks of Eastertide we are coming to grips with the fact that living out the life of Jesus in our homes, in our church and in our city requires world-making power – power to forgive in the face of evil, power to joyfully give and serve in the face of anxious toil, power to love in the face of our own woundedness and sin. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the beginning of God’s power to make all things new, beginning with us, working its way out of our community to the world. What that power looks like as it grows in us and works through us is a life of virtue – prudence (or wisdom), temperance (or sober-mindedness), justice (or righteousness) and courage (or fortitude). By fixing our hope on the resurrection and the day which Christ will raise this whole world from the dead, the Holy Spirit works to plant these virtues in our hearts through which he remakes our character into the life of Christ.
These are the things that city of Portland so desperately needs – lives governed not by selfishness, profit or pleasure but by practical wisdom. They need to see the world as it really is, through the sober-minded lenses of passions tempered by hope. They need to experience a world in which people are treated according to their infinite value as creates in the image of God and where each is given her due. And they need the stout and sturdy hearts necessary to persist in the wisdom, emotional health and self-denying practices of justice. Easter is God’s power to raise communities like this from the grave so that our neighbors might be invited into the world as it will be when Jesus returns to make all things new. And the way that power is worked out in us happens not by magic or a flash of lightening in answer to prayer – we harness it through the painstaking process of confession and repentance as we fix our hope on the certainty of the world to come. By disciplining our lives in faith through the church’s practices (of story, service, community, prayer, study, communion and giving) we see the Spirit of God working through the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. Are you experiencing the power of God to make you new in your thoughts, desires, vocation, marriage, friendships, suffering and struggle? If not, talk to someone about how you might engage these practices with your hope fixed on the life to come – and you will. Jesus raises the dead!