“He is not here; he has risen!” Luke 24:6a
Recently, I had the opportunity to see the movie “Risen” at the local movie theatre. The setting of the movie is first century Palestine, in the time frame from the crucifixion of Jesus through his ascension. The movie focuses on one man’s journey through these days and how his life becomes changed. Without revealing too much, one of the aspects of the movie that intrigued me was the depiction of Jesus’ disciples and the power of their life together as an influence upon the movie’s main character. The joy and the confidence reflected by the disciples as they came to believe in Jesus’ resurrection became a witness, and opened the way for the main character to have an encounter with the risen Jesus in his own life.
Artists have long been interpreters of the biblical message and in our contemporary world perhaps the artistic license of movie directors parallels that of painters or poets in previous generations. I thought the director of “Risen” communicated both the transformative power, and the mystery, of Jesus’ resurrected appearances with a measure of spiritual sensitivity. Something significant happened with those closest to Jesus that often words were at a loss to describe. Lives became changed, yet how this happened was beyond description, except, somehow, Jesus was at the heart of this change.
The presence of the Risen Christ comes to be known in the community that gathers around Jesus and bears his name in the world. This is who we are as the Church, and this is who we’ve been called to be as the congregation of St. Andrew’s, here in Sydney Mines. We can only imagine long ago, in the wake of Jesus’ crucifixion the dispirited helplessness, disappointment and despair that those first followers must have experienced. Their present had been shattered by the unthinkable arrest, trial and public execution of Jesus and their future hopes and expectations had become as dust. Yet, all this is mysteriously transformed, as in their grief they come to hear the voice of Jesus speak to them, and experience his presence with them. In a locked room… along the beach…around a dinner table…eyes are opened and hearts are warmed to a new unfolding of divine love in their midst. Jesus, the Risen Christ, gives lives new purpose and direction, rebuilds courage and confidence, and empowers the disciples to put into action, through word and deed, the good news that Jesus declares in their midst.
Easter’s message of life over death and victory over sin is God’s good word to us through Jesus, the Christ. God’s power conquers hopeless and despair, repairs brokenness and failure and transforms dashed hopes and dreams into new meaning and purpose. In his resurrected presence Jesus does this by spending time with his followers, seeking out their company and companionship, meeting their need in the provision of a simple meal, even challenging their limited vision and understanding with new ways of experiencing him with them. Likewise, his followers are receptive to Jesus’ presence and believe his word to them, transforming their lives and perspective. The presence of community empowers those who follow Jesus to live in new ways, filled with the joy of God’s empowering love and grace.
Being a part of St. Andrew’s allows us to gather as a community of faith and participate in revealing the on-going work of Christ’s ministry in our contemporary lives. The Living Christ is in our midst as we share words of encouragement to each other, speak of faith’s hope that keeps us centered even in the midst of challenges, offer comfort and support to one another, and as we work together for the healing and well-being of people in our community and beyond our boundaries. The Risen Christ calls us to lives of faith, wholeness and joy in community together, centered and focused on the One who shows us divine love and grace!
May Easter joy truly be yours as you celebrate the presence of the Risen Christ in your life, together in the company of others!
May God’s blessing be rich and life-giving to you,
Rev. Marion Barclay MacKay