One of my favorite professors in college would always start his classes by telling us that when he came to the end of the semester, the class would not conclude, it would just stop. The first time I heard that I laughed it off, not really getting what he meant, but after we only got through half of the syllabus the first semester, I totally understood.
He was always ambitious in his teaching, but also never let anyone get lost along the way. In fact, the most he ever finished was about half of what he had planned. It never disappointed him, nor did it frustrate the class, because we all knew that one semester would never fill a lifetime of learning. So some would pick things up again in the next class, others would continue to study on their own, and others still would put the class behind them, not to be thought about again.
I always felt sorry for the folks who went through college as if it were a checklist of tasks. What is the point of college if the goal is merely to get to the other side? The same could be thought about life. There are many people in our world who go through life checking off tasks, doing what is expected and so on, but have they ever lived? Interestingly, when I was thinking about the classes I took with that professor, I remembered how much fun they were and how when I got to the other side, I was excited to keep going!!!
Recently, in preparing for Easter, I have noticed something interesting. When Christ died, his life on earth was not complete, it just stopped. I don’t know why I never really thought about that before, but for some reason, that really stood out to me. As I thought about it more, I could not help but think back to my class in college, and the light went on!
I have never met someone who had completed their lives when they died. Sure, they may have done everything they wanted. And, yes, many people die peaceful and content. But there is always a deep loss for those who cared for them and something that they could still live for.
But the interesting thing is that God tells us that we are not to live our lives for completion. Rather, we are to live our lives to the fullest by preparing in this life for the glory of the next. It is true that when our lives on earth stop, there will be a glorious new life in the next.
This is the promise of Christ: like my professor who promised that the class would not conclude but just stop, Christ promises that our lives do not conclude, they just stop. They stop only to be picked up in the next life.
This is what it means to be Easter People¾we live in the promise of the Resurrection. This shapes our morals, our choices, and most importantly, our lives. Since we no longer need to live to attain a complete life, we can live in a freedom that allows us to go in depth when we need to, grow when we are challenged, and show kindness and love wherever it is needed. We do not need to live for ourselves or our own goals because God has placed a new life before us, a promise that there will be more to come!
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen