Jesus lives, and so do we!

Eastertide is a seven-week feast celebrating Christ’s resurrection. Christ is risen, and this present fact changes everything for those who look with eyes of faith. Observing this season is a transforming practice, one that will help us live out our baptism. Romans 6 shows the real, sacramental link between Easter and baptism — we were buried with Christ by baptism, and can now present ourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life. As one Easter hymn proclaims, Jesus lives, and so do we. [1] Alleluia!

Pressing into our baptisms is an act of will, a choice we must practice. Christ is risen, and we wait for Him to come again. Until He returns we live in bodies and souls, families and communities where sin and death are no longer our master, but are still at work. Jesus has set us free from sin, but we must embrace that freedom. A wise friend of mine was recently reflecting on where she gets stuck:  “I have the impression that I too often forget who I am.” Yes! You must remember your baptism, I must remember mine, and we must help each other live as baptized sons and daughters of God.

Men and women who fulfill their baptism consider themselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ (Romans 6:11). Jesus calls us to live free of the curse, not granting it power or ceding hope. We wear His robe of righteousness and share in His incorruptibility. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego image the baptized, fireproof in the hottest furnace. By virtue of baptism, we refuse to let sin reign in our bodies — it no longer has power to make us obey its groveling fear, its impatient rage, its survivalist impulses of contempt, apathy, and indulgence. We are empowered to offer ourselves wholly to God, presenting every aspect of our persons as instruments for righteousness. 

This is no religious escape into faux perfection. We are transformed, and are continually being transformed. The baptized enjoy a freedom that scandalizes those under the dominion of death. We are fueled by a hope that seems foolhardy to the unconverted. Leanne Payne linked all wholeness to the waters of baptism:  “Every conversion or restoration of the life of God in a soul, every liberation from darkness and despair, … every putting on of the righteousness of Christ” is a fulfilling of baptism. Christ’s cross signifies ”a baptismal, incarnational image of being in Christ, participating in both his death and his rising. It includes the reality of our participation in Christ’s obedience to the Father. These realities, absolutely unique to Christianity, are vital to keep before the mind and heart.” [2]

May these weeks of Easter be filled with rejoicing, feasting, and hymns of praise to our risen Lord. 

This joyful Eastertide, away with sin and sadness! 
Our Lord, the crucified, has filled our hearts with gladness.

My being shall rejoice secure within God’s keeping,
until the trumpet voice shall wake us from our sleeping.

Death’s waters lost their chill when Jesus crossed the river.
His love shall reach me still; his mercy is forever.

Had Christ, who once was slain, not burst his three-day prison, our faith would be in vain.
But now has Christ arisen, arisen, arisen, but now has Christ arisen.
[3]

[1]  Jesus lives, and so do we, Christian Gellert, 1757.

[2] Leanne Payne, Heaven’s Calling (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2008), 121.

[3] This Joyful Eastertide, George Woodward, 1894.

Painting:  Glorious Mysteries I: The Resurrection of the Lord, St. Elizabeth of Portugal Church, photo credit Fr James Bradley from Southampton, UK, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons