It should come as no surprise that Easter Sunday is the most important single
day in the entire Church year. And, it should also come as no surprise that
The United Methodist Church has a very clear doctrinal position on the subject
of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Article III of our historic Articles of Religion is quite straightforward
as to the nature of the Resurrection of our Lord; sadly, few seem to have read
Christ did truly rise again from the dead, and took again his body, with
all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature, wherewith he
ascended into heaven, and there sitteth until he return to judge all men at
the last day.
This doctrinal statement doesn’t stand alone. Our faith is not built upon
our doctrinal statements but, rather, upon the Scriptural witness. This
Doctrinal statement is a faithful reflection of Anglican and Methodist
Christians upon the Biblical account of the death and resurrection of Jesus,
the Creeds and Council proclamations which have interpreted the Biblical
record, and the faith and personal experience of uncounted millions of
Christians who know with both their minds and their hearts that Jesus is
alive! In other words, our doctrinal standards reflect what we believe and
know to be true through our principle authority, Scripture, amplified and
interpreted by Christian Tradition, Experience, and Reason.
From the very beginning, this has been the central and essential
proclamation of the Universal Church: “He Is Risen!” By this we mean an actual
resurrection -- not just a philosophically grounded, metaphysically diluted
series of visions and dreams, but a real event in which God broke through the
bounds of time and space not only to dwell with us, but also to deliver us
from the constraints of our sin and mortality.
This is the message of Holy Week and Easter Sunday made simple. In His
death, our Lord Jesus took upon himself our sinful nature; in His
resurrection, He defeated our death; and, in and through His abiding presence,
we too have hope for eternal life.
The promise of eternal life, revealed to us in the resurrection, is both a
future hope and a present reality. This is not just a fine point of
theological distinction, by the way; it is very important. You see, not only
do I believe that in Christ I shall never die (even though this body shall,
one day, “see corruption”), I also believe that eternal life has already
begun. The moment of Christian “regeneration” begins the eternal life in
Christ and, as such, it is a promise which is already fulfilled.
Let me say that again. For eternal life to be truly eternal, it must be
present in the here and now. And, I believe that it is.
The Easter message of Christ’s victory over the powers and forces of
darkness in his death and resurrection are central to the Christian faith. It
is not some side-message that we can proclaim once in a great while, and
especially in Lent and Easter time. Each and every Sunday is a re-celebration,
a remembrance, of the resurrection of our Lord. The glorious message of our
Lord’s victory is appropriate every Sunday, every week, every day. And we, as
members of the risen and glorified body of Christ, are the only ones who can