Theology

Let Him Reign: How to Preach After Easter

Occupation and Liberation

Marthe Cohn, a Jewish French teenage woman, grew up in the northeastern Lorraine part of France on the Franco German border in pre-WW2 years. When the Nazi’s invaded France, and took this region over in WW2, here was a Jewish woman with her family, very vulnerable and in great danger. She tells the story, in her famous autobiography Behind Enemy Lines, of how throughout the war, she is constantly escaping Nazi capture, how she loses her sister to the Auschvitz death camp, her Dad is sent away, even her fiancée, a French resistance fighter is shot by the Germans. All around her, the world is in massive turmoil.

But finally D Day arrives June 1944. The Allies invade Normandy. Germans surrender at the shores of France and the rest of German armies retreat slowly from France. Marthe Cohn tells how she and her mom sat around every evening listening to their radio reports to hear the news of liberation happening as the Germans retreat. Paris is liberated and the whole city of Paris marches through the boulevards singing. Italy to the south gets liberated. D-Day had happened. The decisive battle had been won yet outside of Marthe’s door German soldiers still stand guard.

The end of the war was assured. The war for all intents and purposes is over. But skirmishes still exist everywhere. Even in the liberated territories, there were German snipers still hiding and shooting people in the streets. Indeed there were whole towns who had not yet heard, and still being held by Germans. There were battles that had to continue right until Berlin was taken by the Allies in May 1945. There were many people and villages in Europe still living with the effects of the old Nazi rule.

Between D-Day and V-Day

Following the great Oscar Cullman, and his classic book Christ and Time, it is this existence somewhere between D-Day and V-Day that wonderfully describes the Christian’s existence after Easter. We live in the tension between the decisive victory of God in the resurrected Christ and the completion of Christ’s reign over the whole earth leading to His final return.

After Easter, Christians exist somewhere between D-day & V-Day. Click To Tweet

Marthe Cohn lived in one of the last German held territories after D-Day near the Siegfried line. When it was liberated, Marthe now living on the liberated side of the Siegfried line, would pose as a German nurse (she was blonde and spoke perfect Deutsche), cross the Siegfried line, and work among the hospitals, learn valuable information, where the armies were, what their condition was, and sneak back and tell the allies.

In one particular incident, she famously discovered a whole section of the Siegfried line had been already abandoned. The allies were preparing an invasion, for huge costs and yet the battle had already been won. They just needed to walk across and stake a flag and claim it as Allied capture territory. Marthe knew the ironies of living the various nuances between D-Day and V-Day.

We are tempted, in these days after Easter to go back to living as if nothing happened on Easter. We heard this past Sunday (Easter) the announcement that “Jesus Christ is Risen!” The decisive victory over death and evil and sin has been won. But on Monday, we go again into the struggles. We are tempted to move on after Easter and say the Resurrection is a great idea, a very inspiring one, but now we have to go on living in the real world. But we are called to live into the various nuances of this in-between time.

Life After Liberation

The Apostle Paul, in his great Easter text of 1 Cor 15: 19-25 is working against any such diminishing of the power of the Resurrection. He announces that over against those who would diminish the reality of God’s victory on Easter, Jesus Christ in fact … (vs 20) has risen. He is the first fruits of those who have died. (He is like the first of many who are to be liberated on D-Day.)

The Liberation has begun! But this does not deny that there is struggle and skirmishes yet to come. And so in verse 25, he states For he must reign until all enemies have been made subject. God in Christ is reigning. Christ has risen and has ascended to the right hand. And yet rebellion continues. God in Christ rules as the lamb who was slain slowly allowing time and space for the world to come to Him. Meanwhile He works in every struggle, skirmish and ongoing suffering to make all things subject. We are to be present to His work and His presence in all these processes so as to witness and participate in His reign being established one territory at a time, one after another, until He completes all things.

The Liberation has begun! But this does not deny that there is struggle and skirmishes yet to… Click To Tweet

And so we proclaim today with all those who will join:

JESUS CHRIST IS RISEN.

Let Him rule … one territory at a time!

Let Him rule in every part of our lives, our neighborhoods, our relationships. Let us be present to His presence at work there. Let us witness to His way of forgiveness, reconciliation and renewal of all things. Let us participate. Let us cooperate so as to bring in His rule.

When racism erupts, let Him rule and reconcile.

When brokenness takes over in homes and in our neighborhoods, let us go be present, announce His victory, be present, and  let Him rule and heal.

When evil sinister power seeks to oppress let us refuse to cooperate with those powers, and proclaim the gospel: Jesus is Lord and calls us to another way.

Announce it to people who still act like nothing has changed , who still live under foreign powers. For He must reign until all enemies have been made subject. (1 Corinthians 15:25).

JESUS CHRIST HAS RISEN – THE LIBERATION HAS BEGUN … NOW LET US PARTICIPATE

This is is a summary of a sermon preached at Peace of Christ Church Westmont this past Easter Sunday.

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