‘What now?’

Published 10:44 am Thursday, April 5, 2018

Annually, the Christian community celebrates the final days, death and resurrection of Jesus. We profess that this One is the presence of God, come among us. We proclaim that we as humanity didn’t want to follow him, and indeed wanted to ignore him enough to kill him. Even so, he has risen from the dead, and has spoken the word we needed most: forgiveness.

We are forgiven of the part we played in his death. We have disregarded his teaching. We haven’t followed his instruction or example. We haven’t respected his immense love for us or shown it to others. And yet, he has given his life for us. Our stubbornness is not the end of the matter; his grace gets the final say. Jesus returned to lead everyone – the willing and the stubborn – to know a new life with God.

So, the days on this side of Easter … What shall we do with them? This became the enduring question for the New Testament community of his disciples. We find it in the stories they have shared. We hold it in the legacy they have left. They focused on being disciples together, and being together in ways that drew others to become disciples as well.

Our culture prides itself on intense individuality. We revel in how custom-tailored our systems, media and devices have become. In some ways, it builds on a “rugged American ethos” of the self-reliant frontier, or the solo-entrepreneur whose success seems self-built. The truth is that we do not succeed alone. We do not survive alone. Our greatest heroes each had a faithful friend, and no one is in business “by themselves.” We have sources and clients. We have providers and patients. We have those to whom we sell our vegetables and those from whom we order the seeds. We are in this together.

By the light of Easter we see our common identity. None of us has kept in step with God; yet God is willing to keep leading us forward. All of us have been forgiven at great cost. What will we do with this fresh start we’ve been given? Easter will next be on April 21, 2019. In the meantime, let us grow in faith, together.

Rev. Michael P. Kendall is pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. He can be reached at mkendall@farmvilleumc.org.