Markham Baptist Church

Articles on "Easter"


posted Apr 12, 2020

What is your image of Jesus this Easter? What do you most notice about his appearance? On a cover of a church pamphlet, printed by a denominational publisher for Easter worship, was an image of the resurrected Jesus. Jesus was standing before Mary Magdalene in the garden with his hands outstretched in triumph. He was risen. David Buttrick, in his book, The Mystery and the Passion, tells the story of how a church janitor, having taken just one glance at the image, saw the trouble immediately: “No nail holes,” he said. He was glorious, but not the crucified Christ.

The risen Christ is the crucified Christ. In Luke 24:39, the very first thing Jesus says, as he stands among his disciples is “Look at my hands and my feet.” Buttrick, writes, “The Jesus who was put down by the human world, God has raised up to be Lord of lords. But, raised up, the nail scars still define Christ’s character.” Jesus Christ, who was put to death, is Lord of life.

The Christian message is not a denial of death, or pain and suffering. We are mortal and death is real. Quite the opposite of Easter denying death, Easter boldly preaches it: “They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him, and three days later He will rise again” (Mark 10:34).  If anything, Jesus teaches us how real and prevalent suffering is in the world. Jesus advocated for the poor and the suffering, and those who were the most vulnerable of his day. He suffered on our behalf, for our sin.

“The resurrection is not therapy for our death fears” says David Buttrick, “No, instead, [Easter] resurrection is a witness to the power of God-love that gives life in the midst of a deadly world.” I’m drawn to those four words in the middle of that last sentence, “in-the-midst-of”. That is after all the proof of both our humanity, and our greatest hope as people of faith. We live in the profound truth and power of Christ’s resurrection, and we live it, daily, in the midst of what would otherwise — without his nail printed hands and resurrected life — surely be our undoing.

Terrible things, throughout time, have happened in our world. Horrible things have happened to people, throughout history, as well as to those we know and love. But the character of Christ then and now, is that his rising takes place with hands scared by the nails that had been driven through them on the cross. He knows our suffering, in our time. He understands our pain. And he has overcome death, that we too might live. Easter gives Life in the midst of whatever we are going through at the time, or will go through in the future. “…thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

My picture of Jesus includes the nail holes. It is this Easter picture of the risen Christ that gives me hope. We will get through this. Here’s why: “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears” (Philippians 1:6).

This is how I choose to live through this moment in history, and in-the-midst-of this global pandemic. I choose to live in possibility; and I choose to live in the promise of God, and without the slightest doubt that God’s Spirit is actively working to bring about “a flourishing finish”. I can’t wait to see what that will look like. For now, all I can do is my part, and experience progress and joy in the faith that Christ has given me.

How are you doing, really?

posted Mar 17, 2020

COVID-19 is at the top of every newscast, its impact is being dissected by every expert in the field, every scary detail of this pandemic is outlined everyday on the front page of every newspaper we dare to pick up. It can all feel a bit overwhelming, at times.

So — how are you doing? A week or two ago, the normal reply to that simple question, from any of us might have been, “Fine, how about you?” — a quick exchange with limited thought or effort before we moved on to whatever it was we really wanted to talk about. Have you noticed how, over the last several days, our usual greetings and responses have changed, better yet, deepened?  I was at a Starbucks drive through window recently, and the fellow handing me my order asked me that simple question – though not in the flippant way we’ve conditioned ourselves to expect. Nope, this barista asked it with an earnestness more often expected in conversations with your closest friend, minister, priest or rabbi. The sincerity threw me! I wasn’t sure if he was there to hand me my coffee, or take my confession — or if I was there to take it or give it!  I have to tell you, I was honestly grateful for the exchange, and the concern shown at a moment when my mind may needed to have been stilled, and when it would have been wonderful to unload one or two of the unordered thoughts swirling around in my head that afternoon with someone who seemed to honestly care. I was blessed, but, with a line of cars behind me, I took my grande caramel macchiato, warm brownie, and drove off with a simple and sincere “thank you”.

Is it just my imagination or are we experiencing a heightened sense of interest in one another’s welfare as we go about our daily tasks and errands? Are we slowing down and investing more in the emotional, physical and spiritual wellness of those around us?

We’re in a different place today than we were just yesterday. Rather than skipping over these questions as if they were merely a pattern of speech without any purpose, many are pausing and giving intentional thought to both question and answer — we are beginning to listen more, and to listen better!  A small miracle, perhaps, but, one which opens up new blessings whenever we engage it!  The people who are “walking in darkness are seeing a great light”. People, who might otherwise be seized by their fears, or feeling as if they are alone in them because of social distancing and quarantines, are given hope whenever the light of someone’s compassionate listening or a person’s caring response shines upon them. The Light of Christ is shining on them in those moments — very likely through you!

A Baptist named Joseph Fort Newton, stated the plain truth of life when he said, “Life is an adventure of faith. We can not tell what may happen to us in the strange medley of life. But we can decide what happens in us — how we take it, what we do with it — and that is what really counts in the end.”

Let’s learn from one another, as we lean into life with confidence. “But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you. I praise God for what he has promised. I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?” Isaiah 56:3-4 (NLT).

Let me know if you would like to talk anytime. I’d be honoured to listen.

Don’t Stop Now!

posted Apr 17, 2017

Don’t stop now! Don’t think that Easter is over, now that you too realize the tomb is empty and Christ is alive and risen! As miraculous and powerful as this news is, it is just the beginning for all of us. When Mary Magdalene ran with the news of the day, and Jesus’ followers had the opportunity to absorb what had just happened, the power that God unleashed on Easter morning — and its influence upon the world —was just getting started. Read more …

Ready for Easter?

posted Apr 13, 2017

Easter is coming! Perhaps it is surprising you too with its approach and position on the horizon of the week before us. Some surprises in life can be wonderfully enjoyed without any preparation. The big things in life, however, the significant moments which help mold our character and remind us of who we are as persons, when we look back upon them, are the kind for which we may want to prepare. Easter is one of those days. It is a big day! It reminds us of who we are as Christ’s Church. As well, the historical happenings of Easter also infuse the present with an invitation to faith, for those who are on that path. Read more …

A Present Tense Reality

posted Mar 23, 2015

There is one song, which for me, more than any other makes Easter worship happen — “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Whenever we sing it, the melody and words follow me home from church. The tune and lyrics tumble around in my head and heart late into the day. They prompt me to utter spontaneous prayers of praise to God, and other kinds of prayer – prayers on behalf of others who still struggle in the darkness, who still live unaware of God’s love and concern for them. Read more …