Devotional for Easter Week, April 20
Then Peter began to speak to them: 'I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
Acts 10: 34-35
The story of the resurrection looms so large over the worship landscape on Easter Sunday that we probably should just put aside the other three scripture readings for the day. Or maybe just get to them later in the week when we’ve eaten the last jelly bean in the basket. (Don’t forget the ones lost down under the grass at the bottom!)
The very first words of scripture we heard on Easter Sunday were not about the women going to the tomb but the ones above from a very long story in the book of Acts told in chapters 10 and 11. In stories like this one, we hear not about the resurrection of Christ but hear an example of how that event changed the lives and re-arranged the thinking of the first disciples.
In this particular story, Peter is tutored by the Holy Spirit to understand that the message of grace and salvation is not just for the Jewish people but for all people of God’s creation. That might seem ho-hum to you and me, a theological no-brainer, but for those first disciples this was startling news to take in. It went against everything they had ever been taught about who they were religiously, politically, and socially. Easter was a game-changer, a new way of seeing the world. The Spirit still works to re-arrange our world and our thinking through the good news of resurrection and transformation.
There is some bad news in this good news. If our thinking and perspective are re-arranged by Easter, that means that we have endured some change and whenever there is change, there is grief over what is lost. Never underestimate the power of this grief. What the early Christians experienced in leaving Judaism was a loss of family ties, loss of their home synagogue, loss of their reputation in the community, occasional loss of their job and sometimes the loss of their lives. What devastating loss Easter brought to their lives! No wonder the gospels describe their emotions as being the oil and water of fear and joy.
I urge us to go as deeply into Easter as we can. Obviously we are at a very different time and place from Peter and Mary Magdalene. And yet, Easter is proclaimed in the midst of our status quo again this year. Where are stones rolled away for us? Where might our thinking about God, church, life and living be re-arranged by those game-changing words:
Alleluia, Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed, Alleluia