The Easter People

I don't know where the name comes from, but it is a wonderful description of what Christians should be: people who live in the knowledge and power of the resurrection of Jesus; people who live with the assurance that in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we see God in action; people who, in the light of the resurrection, believe that God's purposes, God's peace, God's power, are stronger than all that is set against them.

It was the experience of the apostles. And it is difficult to imagine how the Church could have come into being without the experiences that convinced them that Jesus was still with them. Think of Thomas, so depressed, so hopeless after his master's death. Then Jesus stands before him. Doubting Thomas becomes one of the Easter People. 'My Lord and my God.'

Think of Peter, on the night before the crucifixion denying three times that he knew Jesus. But now, just a few weeks later he stands before the Jewish Court, arrested for preaching about Jesus. No denying the Master now. With quiet courage he makes his stand: we must preach Christ, crucified and risen Lord; we must obey God rather than men. Peter too, and John with him, had become Easter people.

A continuing experience

Not only the apostles but Christians through the centuries have discovered what it means to be Easter People as they have come to know Christ not just as the crucified but also the risen Lord. So, the light goes on shining and however deep the darkness, the darkness cannot put it out.

For some the name seems to have a particular resonance as they think of the story of the Moravian Church and of the way Easter is celebrated. The history tells us of a Church almost destroyed, certainly driven underground in the religious wars of the 17th century but finding, a century or so later, new life through the grace of God and with the support of other Christians. And from that time of renewal, the little group of refugees has gone on to become a worldwide Church, still spreading and helping people of many different countries to discover what it means to be Easter People, witnessing to the risen Lord in their own societies and serving in love.

As most readers will know, Easter worship in the Moravian Church has its own pattern: the Palm Sunday Hosanna Anthem, the Passion Week Readings each day, the Good Friday Liturgy, all coming to a climax on Easter Sunday morning as the minister proclaims 'The Lord is risen' and the congregation replies 'He is risen indeed'. Where there is a burial ground the congregation moves there for the final prayers, remembering those who have died during the year, but still rejoicing that this is the day of the Lord's resurrection. Easter People! It will be a little different this year, but the basics will remain. So, some have used the name with reference to the Moravian Church in its Easter worship as well as in its history.

A lovely compliment, but also a challenge: to live in the power of the resurrection as Easter People not only in worship but in the whole of life, people who find purpose and meaning in life as they follow the risen Lord, working with him to renew their own lives and to build a society where justice and mercy, peace and love are at home. Then our Easter thanksgiving will indeed be, thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

fred linyard
Br Fred Linyard

Ockbrook