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07201 April 4, 2007
Living In an Earthquake Zone
An Easter message to the PC(USA) from the General Assembly moderator
by the Rev. Joan S. Gray Moderator, 217th PC(USA) General Assembly
ATLANTA - Nobody expected the resurrection. Not the women, the disciples, the people of Jerusalem, the religious authorities, or the guards at the tomb. Nobody expected anything but oblivion for Jesus of Nazareth.
However, we read in the gospel of Matthew that on the third day "there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it" (Mt. 28:2). This angel had come to shake the world by announcing the unexpected news that Jesus of Nazareth had come back from the dead.
In a nutshell, the message of Easter is that we are living in a spiritual earthquake zone today. This is so because the God we meet on Easter morning, who shook the earth and rolled the stone away, is still alive and well and shaking things up today.
Writer Annie Dillard suggests that when we come into the sanctuaries of our churches we should wear crash helmets and the ushers should strap us into the pews, because the God of Easter morning is a powerful God who may just shake us to pieces.
The Easter message is certainly a message of comfort and hope for life eternal. But it is also a challenging message about a God who does unexpected things and loves to shake up our lives and our world.
This story challenges us to get in line with a God who has a much bigger agenda than we do, who may take us to places we never thought we would go and call us to do things we never thought we would or could do.
This is the God who loves the whole world and is not content to let us sit in comfortable security while millions of God's other children live without food, medical care, justice, or the gospel.
On the far side of Easter, we are living in an earthquake zone. The question is not: Is God still moving and shaking today? The question is: Are we willing to be moved and shaken and used to do God's will even if it may move us into risky and uncomfortable territory?
Nobody expected the resurrection of Jesus. What are we expecting from God today?
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