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Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Jesus lives.

That's all that needs saying about the character and passion of our God.

Jesus is Lord.

That's all that needs saying about our character and passion as God's people, as God's Church, as God's woman or man.

Jesus lives. Jesus is Lord: The most liberating β€” and most dangerous β€” words in our vocabulary.

Jesus lives. Jesus is Lord. This remains the consistent, unchanging message of the followers of Jesus Christ. Rooted in the "first day of the week, early dawn" experience of Mary Magdalene, the living presence of Jesus has been the experience of every follower of Jesus since. How he was raised has never been important. Whether, in the words of John Updike "as His body…the cells dissolution reverse[d], the molecules re-knit, the amino acids rekindle[d]," or as the collective experience of those who loved and followed him, the "how" of Christ's
resurrection has never been important, never been an article of faith. That Christ was raised, that Christ is living β€” tangibly here and now β€” THAT has been the consistent experience of his followers from the first day of that week at early dawn until today. None but the insecure fuss over resurrection's mechanics. Those with lives centered in God β€” in God and not in ideas about God β€” remained unconcerned about resurrection's mechanics, moved as they are by their own resurrection experience; filled as they are by resurrection joy.

Jesus lives. Jesus is Lord. We affirm and publicly proclaim it because we also affirm, and publicly proclaim that who Jesus was; what Jesus said and what Jesus did and is all that we need to know about the character and passion of God; all that we need to know about our own character and passion too. In the elegant words of the late Marcus Borg, "In Jesus we see what God is like."

Jesus lives. Jesus is Lord. That affirmation is important because in Jesus we have heard and seen and experienced life-giving, life-changing news. Yet we also know that this good news is the very reason he was crucified β€” publicly humiliated and publicly executed by the dominating power that did this as a warning to
those who shape their lives and mold their priorities in the way Jesus did. Jesus didn't just die in his sleep, of illness or old age; he was crucified β€” publicly executed β€” because his teaching and doing and being threatened and still threatens the powers that be. His passion is for equity, especially for the poor. His executioner's passion is inequity, the amassing of power and wealth by any means, aided and abetted by divisive, self-serving religion. Jesus looks for justice and mercy. Jesus' executioners demand obedience and use oppression and suppression to obtain it.

Jesus lives for God's kingdom, where the poor, the hungry, the weak and the excluded are blessed. They live for a different kingdom, where the rich, the sated and the exclusive always get their way. Jesus shows us the Father, passionately loving the whole world and passionately offering the Son. They show us a system passionately loving its power and taking the world for itself. They use the cross for suppression, humiliation and domination. Jesus uses the cross to lift up the lowly and to draw all people to God's own self. They would beat us into submission, indifference or subservient obedience. Jesus invites us to follow, to be nourished and to participate fully in the kingdom
of God.

And when we shout Jesus lives, when we affirm that Jesus is Lord, we are saying that God has vindicated Jesus' way of living and serving above the ways of system and dominance and that we will follow Christ by living Jesus-molded lives.

Jesus lives. Jesus is Lord. Because these are life and death and life again words, these are personal words, words about us.

Jesus lives. Jesus is Lord. Because these are kingdom words β€” political words β€” they are public words about every system and every form of dominance in our world.

Jesus lives, and because he lives among us and seeks to shape our lives, our society and our world to God's way, we also affirm that Jesus β€” not a system, not an ideology, not a corporation and not a government β€” is our Lord, which puts us on a collision course with all the powers in church and state, society and culture who demand an exclusive, divisive, stratified, dominating way of living.

Jesus lives.
That's all that needs saying about the character
and passion of our God.

Jesus is Lord.

That's all that needs saying about our character and our passion as God's people, as God's Church, as God's woman or man.

What God is doing in Christ β€” dignity, justice, compassion and peace; full inclusion and full participation for all; non-violence resistance to oppression β€” is the character and passion of God. Through the waters of baptism, through the preaching of the Word, through the sharing of the mass, and in the embrace of Christ's loving community β€” that is our character, our passion too.

Jesus lives. Jesus is Lord. That's all the news we need to change the world.

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Amandus J. Derr
Saint Peter's Church
in the City of New York