May 20, 2019

What difference does it all make?

This weekend, as we were wrapping up our year-long Confirmation Class and offering one
final session before our high schoolers will be Confirmed, one of them asked a great question: "What difference does it all make?" 

In other words, why does the death and resurrection of Jesus matter? Why not just sleep in on Sunday morning and leave this Christian stuff to others? 

I loved this question because it gets at the very heart of why we do what we do. This is precisely where the spiritual rubber meets the road, a question that forces us to reflect upon our own experience and understanding of the Christian faith and life. And it's a question we need to ask ourselves, if not daily, then at least regularly. 

I posed this question on Twitter because I wanted to share some of the answers with our Confirmands. I hoped to show them that this is an important question for Christians everywhere, not just for a group of 15 kids sitting around a table with a few adults in a church basement.

In the Episcopal Church, Confirmation is termed "a mature public affirmation of faith." It's aspirational, but this is the kind of introspection that leads to a mature faith -- something we all continue to strive for wherever we may be on our own spiritual journeys. We don't have all the answers, individually, but collectively we can point to the broader concept of meaning as we reflect on why this all matters. And I for one take great solace and inspiration in the variety of answers that emerge. 

I couldn't possibly share all the answers that continue to roll in. But here are some of the responses. I encourage you to think about this yourself and perhaps even share your own answer as a comment.

@lindsaymonihen: It means choosing hope over despair, which I believe is a more challenging road. The resurrection means hate, war and hunger do not have the final word in our world; there is an outrageous hope calling us forward.

@bishopannehec: Resurrection frees us from fear of death and all captivities. By faith in such freedom we become newly alive, engaged with earthly life in a heavenly way. Resurrection gives us a lens of courage to confront evil; a lens of hope to overcome despair; a lens of love to cast out hate.

@jericson1963: The death and resurrection of Christ means I am never alone, never beyond love, hope and a sure and certain future.

@allancarpenter: The difference is, quite personally for me, the faith that all things are made new versus the perspective that all things are winding down into oblivion. It’s a big one.

@revsusanrussell: Jesus liberates us from the fear of death: from worrying so much about getting to heaven that we’re too paralyzed by fear to work to bring heaven to earth. We are freed to be fully alive by the power of the resurrection – healed, whole and liberated in this life and the next.

@loudluthrn: Trusting that God loves me and frees me from the power of sin and death through Jesus has helped me live a more abundant life in (often surprising) relationship with others. It is sometimes hard but a seed of joy and peace can always be found to keep me going.

@Knapsack: Hope that can keep us going in the face of possible (likely) defeat, because Jesus should by all earthly rights have been destroyed and forgotten, which was Power's intent: but instead, he lives. And frees us (me) to risk failure to speak truth.

@cbdemp: Because there is nothing too dark, too scary, too terrifying, too daunting that Jesus and in turn, God, hasn’t experienced. There is nowhere I find myself, Jesus hasn’t been.

@BethanyUA: I don’t need to be afraid of anything: Not death or being wrong or embarrassing myself or anyone’s opinion. I trust that God is working out the details and my job is to choose love every day. I can’t live this way 100%, but God understands when I miss the mark and loves me anyway.

@gojirama: I can't imagine facing the death of loved ones, or my own death, without the promise of the Resurrection.

@FortnightBuzz63: Ultimately, I am not alone. I'm not alone in the struggle and suffering of life, and I will not be alone in the mystery of dying. In the end when I lose everything else I won't lose God's companionship.

@julien650: Hope. If he lives, we live. No matter how deep I am in despair and darkness, the light of Jesus can bring me back to life - can restore my brokenness to wholeness and I can live again.

@jathko: If Jesus can take the worst of the worst (horrible humiliation & death) & turn it into something so glorious, then he can most definitely take the rot in my life & the shadow of what’s to come & transform that into a thing of beauty. I’ve tasted it & have a certain hope for more.

@thekitchendoor3: Because death is everywhere. We lose loved ones, we lose our own lives, we see the oppression and suffering around us. Resurrection means the story doesn’t stop there.

@MichaelJMcCall: If my immortal soul is safe with the Lord, then I need not be focused on my own behavior against a set of requirements. This gift allows me to become less selfish and focus on the needs of others, which are both earthly and spiritual.

@thefunrevucc: The resurrection is the fulfillment of the promise of God’s everlasting and unconditional love. Nothing I do will change God’s love for me. More important, nothing my worst enemy does will ever change God’s love for that person, either. So better to love than hate!

@JimMead18283862: I know I'm valued and loved by a creator who will have the last word about me, & about everything and everyone else--justice & mercy! I live with hope, courage, accountability. I talk to a living Jesus, not an idea. I treat others differently bc Jesus is risen. Meaning! Purpose!

@garysdeskcom: From a Christian perspective: somehow, through Jesus’ passion we are saved. On a broader level: evil does not always win. Good can come out of bad. On a personal level: God cares. God just gets how much life can suck.

@HeyImJoeTheBear: Jesus took the burden I was meant to be take. He gave me the free gift of forgiveness. Nothing I can do can repay that debt and I live in joy because of it.

@johnrovell: It reminds me that no matter how dark things get or how badly I f*ck up, there is always a chance for rebirth and mercy and new efforts. Jesus rising from the dead basically allows me to raise my head up every day and keep trying, trusting that God is not done with me.

@NoVACLC: It's a simple day to day thing. Nothing is ever so bad that we don't get another chance tomorrow.

@perdue_jrp: There's always hope. No matter how bad it gets, God will come through for you.

@SmudgeThomas: Strength to get through. God carries you through the worst of the worst times and builds you up so grandly.

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