Please read to the tune of…
Sometimes it feels inappropriate to celebrate because it feels like we ought to be grieving instead. No one feels this more than I do, believe me. The phrase “sheep without shepherds” is so profoundly descriptive it approaches absurdity. My soul cries out for the Alt-Right, within which is the seed of the most murderous ideology in human history. We are truly sheep without shepherds, and I’m not different in this. There are many who believe that the purpose of Christianity is to have hope in this life, to raise men from darkness to light, and that resurrection of the dead is mere symbolism.
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Let me tell you something important. There is no inappropriate time for Christians to praise God for the hope that he’s given us. And there is no time more important for Christians to worship than in times of grief and suffering. Because he is risen, indeed, we know that the human tragedy has a happy ending for those of us who believe.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
In acknowledging Jesus’ resurrection, we remind ourselves of the divine comedy in the midst of farce. Horror will give way to peace, and fear will give way to comfort. It doesn’t feel like this is true a lot of the time, because we’re surrounded by constant, daily reminders of what rotten creatures we are. This is why we need to set aside sacred moments in time, like Easter, to focus on the singular hope God has given us through the death and resurrection of his only son. With this conviction, how can we fail to rejoice? Death is defeated, for Christ is risen!
O friends, no more of these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
More songs full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Within thy sanctuary.
Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers,
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.
Whoever has created
An abiding friendship,
Or has won
A true and loving wife,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join our song of praise;
But those who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.
All creatures drink of joy
At natures breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.
Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He sent on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
Like a hero going to victory!
You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek Him in the heavens;
Above the stars must he dwell.