As you celebrate this Christmas, and in the coming weeks, I invite you to remember in your prayers the South Australian communities who have been devastated by the bushfire events of the past few days which have shocked us all.
Jesus Christ is Risen
By Rev Luna Dingayan
President of the Ecumenical Theological Seminary and minister in the United Church of Christ (Uniting Church SA partner church) in the Philippines
Posted in Faith
Jesus Christ our Lord is alive! Jesus was raised from death! This is what the Bible says. This is what the Apostle’s Creed says. This is what we usually sing on Easter Sunday: “Hallelujah! The Lord God reigns… The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”This is what we Christians believe.
But then, that is not what the newspapers say. What we read in the newspapers are reports of kidnapping, rape and murder, of greed and corruption, of the suffering and misery of innocent people across our land. Death and sin and evil seem not to be conquered yet. They continue to make the headlines each day.
Now, we may ask, is the truth of the Risen Christ meant only for people who close their eyes to the hard realities of life? Is there really a connection between the news and the Good News, between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world?
The resurrection is one of the most important aspects of our Christian faith. Without faith that Jesus was raised from the dead, perhaps there would be no Christianity. It was not the ethical teachings of Jesus or his noble death that gave birth to the Christian church that spread throughout the Roman Empire. Rather, it was the news of his resurrection.
It was when the first Christians believed in the Risen Christ that they looked back to ask about the meaning of his birth, of his life, and of his death. Apostle Paul was right when he wrote to the Christians in Corinth, saying:
“If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is a delusion and you are still lost in your sins. It would also mean that the believers in Christ who have died are lost. If our hope in Christ is good for this life only and no more, then we deserve more pity than anyone else in all the world”(1 Corinthians15:17-19).
Indeed, how would the many victims of injustice in this world obtain justice if there would be no hope for the resurrection?
The earliest confession summarising the whole faith of the first Christians was the confession that “Jesus is Lord” – a title conferred on him because of his resurrection. Sometimes the church would make the cross the centre of its faith. Of course, this is not totally wrong. The Risen Lord is no other than the Suffering Servant who gave himself for us. But the cross is an appropriate symbol for the Christian faith only if it is an empty cross. The foundation and centre of the Christian faith is not death but life; not tragedy, but victory beyond tragedy; not a gloomy fascination with a dead sacrifice, but a triumphant faith in the Living Lord.
Jesus had been raised to life! This is where the Christian faith begins. And for us Christians, it is the one event in history, which gives meaning to all history, including our own.
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