Easter Message from Bishop Schol (4/20/14)

Posted by on Apr 19, 2014 in EventReminder | 0 comments

Bishop John Schol, the bishop of our Greater New Jersey Annual Conference recently released the following open letter to all “Easter People”…

To an Easter people who have everything to live for

Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for. –1Peter 1:3, The Message

The Familiar Becomes Fuzzy
Resurrection sometimes feels rare during times of great challenge. We are living in some of the most challenging times that many of us have ever experienced. Today, the instability in nature and human nature, and the unpredictable economy calls into question everything that once seemed normal. Natural disasters, difficulty in finding a job, and violence shake our foundations. The familiar becomes fuzzy. The ordinary is no longer routine. All of a sudden, we begin to recognize what is really important.

Self-Reliance over Faithing
Because of the resurrection Peter writes, we have everything to live for. I wonder if when times are really good we actually stop living and start coasting or live as though life were a right rather than a gift. Faith becomes a confirmation of what we deserve rather than a deep commitment to live the way of Jesus Christ. The faithful have made faith a noun rather than a verb.

Ordinary Resurrections
Jonathan Kozol in his book, Ordinary Resurrections, tells the stories of children living in the South Bronx where the economy is never good, the job market is never stable, and housing is never guaranteed. Yet in the midst of this community, he sees resurrections every day. He sees children whose simple belief adds up to a profound witness that life is worth living and that resurrection is not just a possibility but a reality in the South Bronx.

Kozol writes, I feel like gleaners in the Bible, not in fields of grain but in a field of love. In the children of the South Bronx, Kozol finds no pretense, no expectation that life, good life is handed to us but that life is the deepest love in the hardest places to love. In the face of everything that is wrong with life, it is love, God’s love, our love that conquers the greatest challenges we face.

The Greek word for resurrection is anastasis, which literally means, standing up again. For Jesus it was standing up again in the midst of persecution and death, and for children in the South Bronx it is standing up for love when everybody and everything else has given up on the South Bronx. In the church, it is reclaiming faith as an activity of belief in Christ and being passionate for justice and mercy. You see, for those who live in Christ, resurrection does not wait for Easter.

In these uncertain times, I am witnessing ordinary resurrections. I am seeing faith becoming a verb again, where faith and love are not an entitlement but a gift to be lived and shared. I am witnessing churches engaging more in the needs of their community. I am hearing about faithful disciples starting support groups for people who are searching or grieving. I am seeing people assist people who suffered from Superstorm Sandy. An Easter people standing up again, living ordinary resurrection.

I give thanks to God for so many Easter people and congregations in the Greater New Jersey Conference. You are helping people to believe again that resurrection is possible.

Everything to Live For
Easter people have everything to live for. The challenges in nature, the economy, the job market, the housing market do not change them. They are the change Jesus Christ wants to see through them.

I write to you this Easter season,

To not become too familiar with the things of the worldTo look for the ordinary resurrections that are standing up all around youTo be the resurrection change.

Blessed Easter!

John Schol, Bishop
The United Methodist Church
Greater New Jersey

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