Jesus Light of the World 616Many Christians spend weeks preparing for Christmas but think less of Easter.

At Christmas, we have presents to buy and wrap, cards to send, a tree to decorate, a menu to plan and so on. All to remember the cute baby in the manger!

Easter is a different story. We hear about the empty tomb, the road to Emmaus and whilst we’re happy Christ rose from the dead, it’s less of a big deal.

Is it because there is no infant to contemplate? No presents to receive? No decorations in and around the home?

I know of churchgoers who actually dislike Easter because a beloved relative died around that time. Wow.

For many years I had problems with Christmas for that very reason but could not talk about it: ‘Don’t mention death at such a happy time. Everybody loves Christmas.’

Yes, Christmas is all about us: ‘my family around me’, ‘going away on holiday’, ‘great presents’ and so on. The list is endless.

Christmas does play into our carnality in the worst possible ways, most of which revolve around unmet expectations which are the highest at that time of year. Think of the disappointment manifesting itself in arguments, divorces, domestic abuse, suicides and so on.

That is our fault, nothing to do with the feast of the Nativity in and of itself. If we truly honoured the Christ Child, we wouldn’t place such an emphasis on our own needs.

One cannot help but wonder if churchgoers and clergy help to encourage this. How many Christian pages on the Internet concern Christmas and Easter? The number of entries for Christmas no doubt outnumber the latter. (I’m guilty of this.) In the offline world, how many Easter cards do we send and receive? Very few.

Yet, Easter is our greatest Christian feast. Without it, we would not be able to share in eternal life. Anyone whose relative has died around this time might take time to contemplate that their loved one would not be able to enter the Kingdom of God were it not for our Lord’s resurrection. As such, it should be a time of reassurance and comfort.

Eastertide lasts 50 days — until Pentecost, which is the Church’s birthday. Perhaps now that the 40 days Lent are over we can spend the coming weeks contemplating the significance and the joy of the Resurrection.

This can — and should be — a tremendous time of happiness for Christians, not one to be forgotten quickly. We would do well to make it part of our lives.

In 2012, I read — and excerpted — several sermons from the Revd James A Fowler’s Christ In You Ministries site. He is a pastor of the Neighborhood Church in Fallbrook, California, and, prior to that, had a teaching ministry in several countries around the world.

Fowler would like to see more of a ‘Resurrection theology’ in our churches. Yes, please!

What follows are highlights from his 2003 Easter sermon, ‘Living Reality of the Resurrection’ — well worth reading in full. Emphases mine below:

If the cross is an end in itself, i.e. “God’s final answer,” then all the gruesome execution of Jesus can do is create a martyr figure that allows people to focus on the death of this individual in order to perpetuate a particular ideology. Granted, that is how much of the Christian religion operates in our day, but is that what Christianity was intended to be?            

What happened on the cross, the death of Jesus, represents a remedial action

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was God’s “Yes” to the restoration of His divine life in humanity. If our theology does not go beyond redemption in the death of Jesus on the cross, to the restoration of God’s life in humanity by the resurrection, then it ceases to be Christian theology. God’s “final answer” was not the cross. God’s final answer was (and is) the resurrection! In the resurrection of Jesus divine life overcame death, God overcame Satan (I Jn. 3:8; Heb. 2:14). That was historically enacted on that third day when Jesus arose from the dead and exited the tomb, but it was for the purpose of resurrection being personally and spiritually enacted in those receptive to Christ by faith.

It is a sad indictment of contemporary Christian religion to observe how the resurrection is regarded and taught in the churches today. It has become but a token recollection in the annual church calendar …

The need of fallen mankind is the restoration of the presence of God’s life in their spirit to energize their behavior in soul and body. The Spirit of Christ is that life. Life is a Person. “I AM the life” (Jn. 14:6), Jesus said. Divine life, spiritual life, eternal life, resurrection life are all the life of the risen and living Lord Jesus. The Apostle John explained, “He that has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (I Jn. 5:12).

This is not to diminish our Lord’s tremendous sacrifice in His crucifixion. Not at all.

However, the story did not end there.

Fallen humanity’s salvation requires both the cross and the resurrection.

Tomorrow: Bypassing the resurrection