“Christians should always be ready to do two things: They should always be ready to pray. And they should always be ready to die.”
I only heard my bishop say those words once. It was actually an off-the-cuff comment. I could’ve missed hearing them at all. But that one time was enough to fuel my discipleship for years to come.
I suppose there are other activities and realities Christians should prepare for. These two, though, connect to our Bible reading today. Both help us understand an important part of what Resurrection Sunday means to us.
Our readiness for both praying and dying depends upon God’s work in Jesus Christ. Without Christ, doesn’t praying amount to wishful thinking? Without the resurrection, what victory do we have at all?
The resurrection of Jesus makes us who we are. We are resurrection people. At Easter Sunday, many of us sing, “Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!” One of the themes of that hymn by Charles Wesley is the connection between heaven and earth.
Listen to their bond:
- Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
- Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!
- Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
- Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
By the way, every line from that hymn ends with an exclamation mark. We don’t just sing the word Alleluia. We declare with boldness and excitement our praise to Christ as our exalted head of the church.
As we take the time to reflect on what impact the resurrection of Jesus has on our lives, we learn to do something important. We learn to live in the reality of the connection between heaven and earth.
Remember when Jesus taught us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? That reality shines in the resurrection. That connection between heaven and earth becomes real to us as we pray.
Let’s consider a sports analogy.
When a team develops a winning culture, other teams pay attention. Often, a losing team will pursue a coach from a winning team. The expectation is that winning culture will follow them. The resurrection of Jesus swallowed death in victory! That’s more than a winning culture. Jesus took the sting of death and shook it off.
Again, with his Easter hymn, our brother Charles Wesley helps us understand a part of the resurrection’s power: Christ has opened paradise. Once, we were susceptible to the sting and power of death. Now, the Victor over death has taught us his way.
Instead of us asking Jesus to be on our side, he brings us to his. Knowing that we have his victory, we labor to know Christ and to make him known. That’s what a resurrection faith does. In part, our resurrection faith teaches us that when we’re ready to pray, we’re ready for our work here on earth. When we’re ready to die, heaven awaits us.