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Apr  2015 22
Nurturing Leaders: Between Good Friday and Easter Sunday

Scripture: Romans 8:19-25

Christians live in the space and time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. What do I mean by that? Are we not the Easter people? Yes, but we are not ONLY the Easter people. The Reign of God is inaugurated but not fulfilled. Friday is still with us.

In the gospels, Good Friday represents the triumph of the Roman Empire. Jesus is crucified as a terrorist. Crucifixion was Rome’s capital punishment reserved primarily for revolutionaries, a cruel and inhumane form of the death penalty designed to put the fear of Rome in anyone else who had revolutionary thoughts. Crucifixion was Rome’s way of keeping the Pax Romana, the famed Peace of Rome.

On Friday, the Roman way wins, the Jesus way loses. Loving God, loving our neighbors as ourselves, loving our enemies, doing good to those who hate us, forgiving… frequently, good news for the poor, liberty for the captives and the oppressed, sight for the blind, trusting in God for daily bread, letting the cares of the day be sufficient for the day, table fellowship with anyone, blessed are the peacemakers and the pure of heart, refusal to divide people into categories of clean and unclean—these are the behaviors and dispositions of citizens in the Empire of God, and on Friday it looks as if violence and division wins over love.

It is Good Friday living when:

  • Opponents are turned to enemies in wards of words where each party seeks to win regardless of the truth and with no energy and attention spent to understand or accommodate the other.
  • A canyon separates the rich and poor.
  • Racist actions, whether on a bus or in the streets or in the courts, are dismissed as representing "only a misguided few."
  • Americans blindly incarcerate more people than any other nation on the planet.
  • Churches care more about moral or doctrinal purity than for each person as created in the Image of God.

The Christian Easter Sunday witness is that Rome did not win and cannot win. The Jesus way is stronger and better and truer than the Roman way. But the world does not live as if Easter Sunday matters. The challenge for Christians is living as if the Jesus way is true, as if Easter Sunday confirms the Jesus way.

It is Sunday, and resurrection wins when:

  • An estranged son forgives his father's imperfections.
  • Christians form a human shield between protestors and Muslims visiting the capitol in Oklahoma City.
  • Religious and civic communities all over the country talk about race and hold vigils and dialogues and connect parts of the community that might otherwise retreat to their tents.
  • Two persons with strongly held differing moral positions on same sex marriage talk to each other long enough and deeply enough to come to understand and respect each other.
  • A congregation decides to die and give a chance for another community to be born.
  • A family decides it has enough, more than enough, and gives away everything over and above enough.
  • A dying church stays in its neighborhood, learns to work and play beyond its own walls, connects with the folks who live and work around them, and receives strangers with hospitality.

What leadership capabilities would help Christians live as Easter people in a Friday world? Persons able to help communities deal with anxiety, keep attention focused on both relevant facts and on hope, who will look incessantly for green shoots through the snow, who can aid in grieving a world lost while welcoming that which is good in the world coming to be.

Do you know someone with those qualities?

Prayer: “Empower us, God of all times, to live as resurrection people in this time between the forces of Friday and the hope of Sunday.”

Next week: What does it mean to walk in the way of Jesus?

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Browse more posts by: Gary Peluso-Verdend, Phillips President
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