He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, he lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know he lives? He lives within my heart.
(Refrain from “He Lives”, United Methodist Hymnal #310)
Easter is always in the present tense. Not only Jesus lives in our hearts renewing and enlivening us, he is alive in the world. Faith, hope and love last. We believe in the eternal life now—a life lived in the present connected to things eternal. Yes, the state of the world we live in is not always encouraging but we affirm that Hope is in how “I” live and breathe now. Unconditional love, amazing grace and forgiveness is the air we breathe at this moment. One Great Peace always begins with me.
On March 9th of this year a Christian colony in Lahore, Pakistan was attacked by a mob of some 3000 Muslims. It left more than 175 buildings, including two churches and dozens of homes, torched and hundreds of people homeless. The attack came after a Christian sanitary worker allegedly criticized Mohammed three days earlier.
On the evening of March 23rd, Pakistanis of First UMC held a prayer vigil. We prayed for the persecuted religious minorities in Pakistan under the blasphemy law. We prayed for wisdom and courage to do what we can to be the source of support and hope. They need our prayer, our monetary help, and our action to push for abolition of the blasphemy law and guarantee of the freedom of religion. We are planning a gathering on Sunday, April 14 after our morning worship to inform the congregation of our efforts.
Eboo Patel is the founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based organization fostering the international interfaith youth movement. He recounts this story on National Public Radio’s This I Believe program:
“I attended high school in the western suburbs of Chicago. The group I ate lunch with included a Jew, a Mormon, a Hindu, a Catholic, and a Lutheran. We were all devout to a degree, but we almost never talked about religion. Somebody would announce at the table that they couldn’t eat a certain kind of food, or any food at all, for a period of time. We all knew religion hovered behind this, but nobody ever offered any explanation deeper than ‘my mom said,’ and nobody ever asked for one…..A few years after we graduated, my Jewish friend from the lunchroom reminded me of an experience we both wish had never happened. A group of thugs in our high school had taken to scrawling anti-Semitic slurs on classroom desks and shouting them in the hallway…..I did not confront them. I did not comfort my Jewish friend. Instead I averted my eyes from their bigotry, and I avoided the eyes of my friend because I couldn’t stand to face him.
My friend told me he feared coming to school those days, and he felt abandoned as he watched his close friends do nothing. Hearing him tell me of his suffering—and my complicity—is the single most humiliating experience of my life.”
Then Patel adds this reflection: “My friend needed more than my silent presence at the lunch table. I realize now that to believe in pluralism means I need the courage to act on it. Action is what separates a belief from an opinion.” (Emphasis mine, © 2007 by This I Believe, Henry Holt and Company, New York, pp. 179-180)
Please do what you can to ease others’ suffering. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be the sign of hope. Breathe the salvation that is Jesus Christ here, now, each and every moment.