As Easter people, we embrace audacity of Jesus’ love | Worship

By The Rev. Cynthia Espeseth, St. Hilda St. Patrick Episcopal Church | May 03, 2017

On Easter Sunday, and every Sunday until Pentecost 50 days later, we begin our worship with “Alleluia, Christ is risen! The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!”

I love that our Easter words stand in stark contrast to the words we said during lent, the 40 days before Easter: “Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins. His mercy endures forever.”

The sudden switch in what we say makes us sharply aware of who we are as God’s people. We are Easter people who believe in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the anointed one of God.

Saying “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” is audacious. Our words proclaim our faith in something we can’t see, can’t measure, can’t even really prove except anecdotally. We are bold to proclaim Christ is risen because it means we have chosen to live differently.

But, these are also dangerous words. Believing that Christ is risen means that we have a responsibility to being Easter people. Proclaiming Christ is risen means we have decided to choose love over apathy – service over personal ego and agenda – and we promise to respect the dignity of every human being.

In the space between the words “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” are actions such as sacrifice, self-giving, discomfort and pain that made the empty tomb possible. There is no Easter without also the crucifixion, and the choices of Jesus that led him to the cross.

Jesus challenged those in power, questioning their motives and questioning their unjust laws. Jesus didn’t follow the social rules of his time. He called for a redistribution of wealth. He taught equality and love for all people. He hung around with sex workers and money-scammers, and those who religion and “good society” had ostracized.

As a former refugee, Jesus was filled with compassion for those whose lives were on and outside the margins.

When Mary went to the tomb that Easter morning to grieve, but instead encountered the risen Christ, Jesus said to her: “Do not cling to me. I must ascend to the Father.” Jesus couldn’t hang around lest his disciples expect him to do all the work.

The thing is, if we believe that the tomb is empty, that Jesus lives, then we also believe that God has faith in us that we will love one another just as Jesus loved us. What was Jesus’ mission and ministry is now ours. We are God’s Easter people who continue God’s reconciling work in the world.

So, every time we proclaim that “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” we align ourselves with Jesus. We become allies for sex-workers, refugees, those who are food insecure and those who are homeless.

We align ourselves with God, which means that we stand against those in power who would bulldoze homeless encampments without offering a place for the people to live. It means that we work for the redistribution of wealth so there is affordable housing and livable wages for all people.

Proclaiming “Alleluia, Christ is risen!” is indeed audacious.


The Rev. Cynthia Espeseth is an Episcopal priest for St. Hilda St. Patrick. She has been ordained for 15 years. Her passions are weaving people to God and rowing.

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