Forward Today: Defined by grace and mercy

Fresco over the altar in the chapel at Chora Church (Kariye Kilisesi) in Istanbul. Photo by Scott Gunn.

Dear friends in Christ,

I hope you’re still basking in the glow of Easter! We are just four days into the great fifty days of the Easter season. That gives us all plenty of time for more basking and rejoicing.

Sometimes I wonder what our church would be like if all our members and all our church leaders fully embraced the world-shaking truth of Easter. Jesus Christ was totally, stone-cold dead, and then he was raised to new life. This isn’t a trick or a metaphor. The earliest Christians wouldn’t have gone to their martyrdom for a metaphor.

So what does it mean that death, evil, and sin have been utterly and decisively defeated?

To be clear, Easter doesn’t render suffering obsolete. The news websites assure us of that. But Easter ought to change our understanding of what defines our world. Our world is not defined by evil and death. Rather, our world is fundamentally defined by God’s grace and mercy. When anyone suffers from this sinful world, they can be assured of God’s steadfast love in this life and the promise of life to come.

In this vein, I am still reeling from something I heard a few weeks ago. At the Episcopal Parish Network conference in March, Jon Meacham told attendees to “stop lamenting and start leading.” In other words, as a church, let’s stop acting as if evil and death rule! Let’s move forward in hope and love. Let’s point the world to a greater truth. And, yes, let us absolutely join with others to defeat every manifestation of sin we see, whether in our lives or in the world around us.

Many seekers don’t bother with church, and I don’t blame them. Too often, our vision is no bigger than the talking points of the chattering class. We should know better. Our vision should be radiantly beautiful, a world in which grace and mercy abound. It’s the vision of the Gospel, and it’s contagious. There’s a reason the earliest Christians changed the world, and it’s time for us to do it again.

Happy Easter! And now let’s get to work, joining with Mary Magdalene as we shout to the ends of the earth, “I have seen the Lord.”

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

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