Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb,
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
–Isaiah 49:15 (NRSV)
What a pleasant surprise it was to visit Sweden for the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Council meeting and get some relief from North American news. The North American mood, since September 11, 2001, has been one of doomsday dread. The rationale for the Iraq war was built on that mood. The US demands for beefed-up Canadian security were based on that mood. There is a sense in the air that if one is not watchful every minute, life, as we know it, will be snatched away for good. Apocalyptic religious views such as those expressed in the Left Behind series by Tim LaHay add to the doomsday dread.
How much more Easter-centred was the mood in Europe! The gathering there celebrated a mixture of experiences, some undeniably dangerous, but others life-giving. Life is not an all-or-nothing battle. Christians who have been dealt life-crushing disasters continue to re-emerge as hopeful and dedicated evangelists for Jesus Christ. The LWF community offered the opportunity to reason through our faith together.
God, who created us out of sheer grace, has permanently adopted us in love. Nowhere do I find the Easter message more profoundly spoken then in the prophesies of Isaiah, who did not know Jesus, but who knew the promise in which Jesus trusted. Eternal life is not a future promise, but a reality in which we already exist. I disagree with those who believe that death is an illusion, but death, real as it is, cannot prevent God from preserving us in God’s own self for all of God’s life.
Let us not be ground down by doomsday worries. Let us celebrate life in fearless trust and give ourselves over to the celebration of life eternal! Easter always calls us forward into the future.
Thanks be to God!
National Bishop Raymond Schultz
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
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