Ongoing Easter

A Message from Bishop Benfield

Easter is not an historical event. Does that comment shock you? Have I gotten your attention? I hope so.

Historical events are things that once happened and that we remember later. The founding of the United States in 1776 is one such event. Even the birth of Jesus is an historical event. “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way,” is how the gospeller Matthew recounts it.

But Easter is in a league all its own. We do not celebrate the stone being rolled away. What we instead celebrate is what happened to the people who found the tomb empty. They started seeing the risen Christ in all sorts of places and faces: in the garden, in a locked room, on a roadside. Easter apparently happened again and again as more and more of the people who followed Jesus saw that he was still alive in the communities and situations in which they found themselves.

That Easter story is happening now. Yes, we can have the same Easter experience as did Mary Magdalene and the first of Jesus’ disciples. We can still see the risen Christ in the innumerable faces around us. This time it might be someone “from the other side of the tracks” or our political enemy or the neighbor we have too often avoided or even in own reflection in the mirror when we are down on ourselves. When we start looking for signs of resurrection, that the risen Christ is alive, we will find them. And let me assure you: we never call those encounters mere history. They become our hope and a proclamation that will eventually stretch in to the future as far as the ends of the earth. I wish for all people a blessed—and very real—Easter celebration as we wait to see where Christ next appears.