We had a joyful and beautiful Easter at Church in the Forest, with glorious musical performances and congregational singing, the perfume of Easter Lilies, and sunlight dancing across the chapel. And we heard the story of the Angel at the Empty Tomb: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
But we did not yet read the stories of Jesus’ resurrection appearances. This week we’ll read two of those accounts and see how they differ in quite startling ways. Why did the Christian community not break apart over those differences? Or, why did our early church leaders not homogenize those differences into one unified story of Jesus’s resurrection?
Religious division and even violent conflict are all around us. On Easter Sunday Islamic militants bombed Catholic churches in Sri Lanka. Yet Muslims and Christians are both the children of Abraham, believing in one God, revealed to Abraham — a God who rules, loves, judges and forgives. How did our shared, core beliefs grow into a conflict that has darkened our modern world?
Perhaps you felt a family-sized version of religious conflict in your own Easter Sunday activities. Were some family members skipping church, indifferent to faith; or insistent on attending a “believers’” church – implying that the others were full of heretics?
We’ll find wisdom for these questions in our Bible’s different resurrection accounts – especially the words of Jesus at the climax of these stories.