The power of Easter—today
Let us sing of Easter gladness
That rejoices every day,
Sing of hope and faith uplifted;
Love has rolled the stone away.
Lo, the promise and fulfillment,
Lo, the man whom God hath made,
Seen in glory of an Easter
Crowned with light that cannot fade.
When we touch Truth's healing garment
And behold Life's purity,
When we find in Love the refuge
That is man's security,
When we turn from earth to Spirit,
And from self have won release,
Then we see the risen Saviour;
Then we know his promised peace.
Living meekly as the Master,
Who of God was glorified,
Looking ever to the radiance
Of his wondrous Eastertide;
Freed of fear, of pain, and sorrow,
Giving God the honor due,
Every day will be an Easter
Filled with benedictions new.
—Frances Thompson Hill,Christian Science Hymnal. No. 413 Easter gladness
Each year Easter provides us with a powerful reminder of the purpose and the ability of the eternal Christ to uplift humanity, to restore what appears to have been lost in our human experience, and so provide cause for rejoicing that the power of that Christ is always active, always redeeming, always restoring.
With our world facing the threat of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, unstable economies, wars, nuclear proliferation, disease, individuals are looking more and more for satisfying answers that will restore hope and bring a fresh sense of life and its glorious possibilities.
Aren't those answers found in the true message of Easter? The risen Christ presents all humanity with proof that life is neither in nor of matter, but is completely spiritual, intact, and thus can be experienced in renewal and restoration here and now—whatever the human situation may be.
After Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, two of his disciples (probably part of the 70 whom Jesus had commissioned) could not accept the idea of resurrection, These men had believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah, and now he was gone. Even though several women had told them that Jesus' tomb was open and empty, and that they had seen angels who told them that Jesus was risen, the evidence of Jesus' death was so real to these disciples that they felt bereft of hope. They left Jerusalem with heavy hearts and headed to the village of Emmaus, about seven miles away. They were for all intents and purposes headed in the wrong direction, unable to see beyond what their eyes and ears had witnessed.
Jesus, however, didn't condemn them or write them off. The 24th chapter of the Gospel of Luke records that Jesus found them on the road and walked with them. He made no direct attempt to turn them around by announcing that they were headed in the wrong direction. Instead, he allowed the power of the Word to touch their hearts as he went with them and taught them from the Scriptures.
At nightfall, as they shared a meal, the disciples realized that it was Jesus who was breaking the bread and blessing it. At that point he disappeared from their sight. But can you imagine their joy and sense of renewal when they realized that the promise of Jesus' resurrection from the grave had been fulfilled! Jesus had proved what he had taught them about the true nature of God as omnipotent, omnipresent Spirit; of men and women made in Spirit's image and likeness; and of the consequent unreality of matter and the testimony obtained from the five physical senses.
This influx of the Christ, this revelation of Truth, restored the disciples' joy, and they rededicated themselves to their mission. Though it was still dark, they left immediately to return to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples what they had seen. The roads weren't safe at night in that area, but they no longer cared about material evidence. The light that the Christ had kindled in their hearts was enough to propel them forward regardless of the human circumstances.
There's extraordinary reassurance in that story for each of us when we find ourselves in a position where it seems that something—or even everything we love and value—has been taken from us. Jesus' demonstration of the inability of material circumstances to alter the permanence of his life in God is an example for anyone to follow on his or her own road of discipleship. For, as the Apostle Paul made clear, "your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3).
Whether the uncertainty or loss we face is small or large, this Christ is available to offer us the same sense of renewal that Jesus found in his three days in the tomb and that those disciples found on the road to Emmaus. There is a necessity, however, to allow this message of the Christ to elevate our thought to the recognition of a spiritual view of reality. In a paragraph in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures with the marginal heading, "Renewed selfhood," Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "Let us feel the divine energy of Spirit, bringing us into newness of life and recognizing no mortal nor material power as able to destroy. Let us rejoice that we are subject to the divine 'powers that be'" (p. 249).
I've experienced the renewing power of the Christ many times in my life. One modest example came right after college when I found a job teaching at the school where I had just completed my teacher training. I really wanted to start off in a school where I already knew the staff and the students, rather than face a completely new environment. I was thrilled with the job offer, and my husband and I proceeded to buy a house and a newer car.
I was stunned shortly before the start of the school year to be contacted by the principal with the news that someone with seniority in the school system had requested a transfer to this school and had been given my slot. By the terms of my employment contract, I was now without a position. Anger and resentment seemed a natural response—as did fear about those looming house and car payments. It was so close to the start of the school year that it seemed impossible that anything acceptable would open up. I'd been praying about employment and family finances before I was offered that job, and I was sure it was God's provision for me. Now it felt as if all my hopes had been dashed. I could easily have joined those disciples on the road to Emmaus, feeling sad and without hope.
As I prayed about my situation, it came to me that the Christ that Jesus so perfectly demonstrated had been defined in a very helpful and enlightening way by Mrs. Eddy as "the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness" (Science and Health, p. 332). That view of the Christ, unlimited by time or space, allows us to expect to hear the timeless message of hope along with a promise of renewal and restoration whatever the circumstances. It occurred to me that I needed to let the Christ uplift my thought from the very limited picture of loss and lack, doom and gloom, to look at this situation in a more spiritual light, looking away from the very frightening and disheartening picture of economic insecurity.
Gradually, I felt a deep reassurance that each individual created by God had a unique place and purpose in God's kingdom.
Easter reminds us of the constancy and potency of God's love and care for us all.
There was never a moment when anyone could take my place, or a moment when I didn't have a unique spot to fill. It came to me clearly to apply directly to another school in the area rather than wait for the county to try to find an opening for me.
I followed through by calling that school each day, without anxiety. The light of the Christ-message had dissolved the anger, the resentment, and the fear that had filled my mind so recently. I became confident that I was subject only to the "divine powers that be." In fact, I felt the way I imagined the disciples must have felt when they returned to Jerusalem to find the risen Christ—uplifted, inspired, and rededicated to doing God's will. To my delight and gratitude, the job did open up, and I was hired six weeks into the school year.
While others might be facing far severer challenges, the universal message of Easter is one of resurrection from the tomb of earthly loss, disappointment, and discouragement, to the recognition of the risen Savior, ever with us, restoring, regenerating, renewing our present hope and joy.
After Hurricane Hugo in 1989 destroyed homes on the front beaches of several islands in the Charleston, South Carolina, area where I live, as well as severely damaging homes, businesses, schools, and vegetation throughout the county, it was tempting to despair of ever seeing the city whole again. But when I flew into the Charleston airport two years after that storm, all I could see were new buildings, new roofs, restored beaches, improvements all around. It made my heart sing to see how much progress had come out of that destruction.
The same possibilities exist for other areas hit by destructive forces in recent years, and especially for Haiti and Chile at this time. For example, many Haitians are banding together to advance an Internet-based drive called "Haiti 2.0" to help improve government, economic opportunities, education, business ethics, and environmental issues in their nation. This might be viewed as just one of many opportunities around the globe to acknowledge the power of the risen Christ to lift thought and bring everyone fresh ideas, renewed commitment, increased brotherhood and sisterhood, and a higher recognition of the nature of our common Parent as infinite divine Love.
Meeting these challenges, whether in our personal lives or for the world, isn't easy. Jesus told the people around him to take up the cross and follow him (see Mark 8:34). And Mrs. Eddy described the cross as "the world's hatred of Truth and Love" (Science and Health, p. 50). That hatred of God and His creation shows forth in our human experience through the testimony of the five physical senses arguing for the presence and validity of evil in every form imaginable. If we are to truly follow Jesus, it must be by following his commands and refusing to be bullied by the physical evidence of discord that would try to convince us that God either causes evil or allows it to exist. The true power of Easter is in the triumph of Jesus over that hatred of Truth and Love, proving the eternal existence of the Christ, and showing that it is always available to help everyone meet the challenges to the supremacy of God's goodness they encounter every day.
The Christ is timeless, and always brings a sweet sense of renewal. Especially at this time, we can all join in welcoming the Christ each day, in every situation. We can let Easter remind us of the constancy and potency of God's love and care for us all, along with God's ability to renew and restore whatever seems lost. What a cause for rejoicing! CSS
FOR MORE ON THIS TOPIC
To hear Sarah Hyatt speak on this topic, tune in to Sentinel Radio during the week of April 3—9, 2010. For a listing of broadcast locations and times, go to www.sentinelradio.com. To purchase a download of this radio program, #1014, on or after April 3, go to www.sentinelradio.com and click on Audio Download Store.