Christ did not rise so that we might live as we please; and choose our own path; and make our own way. Christ Jesus rose because we are incapable of raising ourselves. He rose because our self-makings end in death. And He rose because our promises to start over always fail.
In short, Our Lord Jesus died to put to death who we once were; and He rose to return us to who we are created to be. And who are we raised up to be? Children of the heavenly Father. Sons and daughters of God. And men and women who serve the Lord with gladness. But that is not all. We are also raised up by Our Lord to be brothers and sisters in; lovers of all men; and godly people who live not for ourselves but for one another.
Such living cuts against the grain. Such living is living against our former nature. For our habits enslave us in pride and selfishness. And our old ways addict us to things that are unreal, things that are really no help, and things that often lead to despair.
From these, Christ Jesus has released us. From these, He has delivered us. From these, He has set us free—both by His death, which destroyed the grip of sin and death; and by His resurrection, which gives us this new way of life and this new way to live. For Our Lord’s Resurrection breathes life into our life—both now and forever—because it breathes back into us a true, intimate, and full life with God in Christ
And if we are with God in Christ, then we are also bound together. For the glories of Christ’s resurrection are not offered, one by one, to each individual. Rather, Christ is risen so that we may live the new life together, in His holy catholic Church. This true Church is all those who receive, by faith, His wondrous resurrection; and who keep to that faith by remaining in communion with those bishops who rightly maintain the Father’s Word in the tradition of the holy apostles. For through them—that is, through these men to whom Christ first appeared, and who are the witnesses of His resurrection—to them, the Spirit of Christ was given; upon them the Spirit of Christ was breathed; and in them and their successors, the Spirit of Christ lives.
So the Lord arises to release us from our old selves; and also, to bind us together into His new self—the Self which is His churchly Body where, together, we are strengthened by the Spirit and, through Him, we earnestly await the entrance into the Father’s kingdom in our glorified bodies.
From the sermon for Easter Sunday (Resurrection Mass) preached at Zion Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Detroit, 16 April 2006.
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