The Academy Awards and Emmy Awards shows pay tribute to actors, writers and others who died during the past year.
Death is an incentive to remember them and the contributions they made to the film and television industry.
St. Paul’s letter to Timothy in the New Testament cites the opposite reason to remember a life. It is Christ’s life and his resurrection that we are invited to remember. “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David as preached in my gospel ...” 2 Timothy 2:8
These words take us to the heart of Christian faith and life: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Morality and the Ten Commandments do count, but they are branches growing from a root.
God’s greatest act
The source of life as believers is God’s greatest deed in bringing Jesus up from death. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! We say this out loud to one another each Easter morning.
Now halfway around the calendar in October, we still celebrate this central truth of faith. Early on the church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday because Christ rose from the grave on the first day of the week. Each Sunday is a “little Easter” and welcomes the glory of Christ radiating from his Easter victory over death and the grave.
We see the truth best when set against circumstances of life. The other day I happened to be visiting someone in the hospital and after prayers for healing and for God’s peace, I left the room, only to encounter a huge crowd in the hall.
In the very next room, a code had been called and hospital personnel had responded to the emergency. Doctors, nurses, therapists, aides, social workers and chaplains had all come to this one room — so many, in fact, that they overflowed into the hallway.
Cornerstone of faith
In such a moment as this, as they worked so hard to restart the heart and breathing of this single patient, the word of the Lord is hardly taken for granted. With everything engaged in a terrible swirl of battle with death itself, remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. These seven words become a cornerstone of faith.
When our minds are in a panic and can fix on only one thing — the ominous threat of a life ending, these words bear a faithful word of hope. That’s why chaplains always respond to a code when it is called in a hospital setting.
With the community of Killeen still in shock over the tragic deaths of Pastors Terry and Jan Whitley and Steve Timmerman, we all need the assurance that our God meets us in the word of Christ’s resurrection.
God comes to conquer the fears, dread and denial that are inevitably present at the very thought of death. God raised his Son Jesus to demonstrate to us that God has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Believing the good news puts us on the resurrection side of every cross that we bear. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. It offers you a foretaste of eternal life that starts now right where you are and is sealed by the Holy Spirit. The gospels do not explain the resurrection; rather, the resurrection explains the gospels and puts backbone into our faith. Resurrection belief is not an add-on to what’s offered in Scripture, but is the living center that breathes life into all else that belongs to faith. Remembering Jesus has lasting consequences. May you be blessed by this truth.
The Rev. RAY ZISCHANG is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Killeen.