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Ed. Note, April 12, 2o12 -- As Easter approaches on April 15 for millions of Orthodox Christians, the NCC's Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos reflects on the eternal significance of the day. 


Christ is Risen! 

 

Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos

Associate General Secretary, Faith & Order and Interfaith Relations
National Council of Churches

  

“Christ is Risen!”

 

Throughout this Easter season, Christians will once again joyfully proclaim these words as they have for the past 20 centuries.  An announcement as well as a greeting, this phrase carries more than a little meaning.

 

The words are a testament to our faith, that the historical man Jesus is revealed to us as the Christ from all eternity in his crucifixion and resurrection from the dead.  They are a blessing, meant to lift the spirit of every person who understands that they signal the salvation of the world.  And they are a reminder that, no matter the situation in which we find ourselves, God has the last – and glorious – word. 

 

A savior killed in a shameful manner?  This dead man risen?  No actual witnesses to the resurrection itself?  A claim based on the first century testimony of a few insignificant people?  A belief that this experience reveals through the Spirit this man to be the Son of the heavenly Father, and thus reveals God in fact to be the Holy Trinity?

 

In truth, this seems like such a preposterous message to proclaim.   In our society, characterized by secularism, relativism, and pluralism, the message seems rather over-the-top.  In some societies, marked by inter-communal violence, it seems unnecessarily dangerous.  In other societies, burdened with extreme poverty, it seems quite inconsequential.  And yet, our Faith is based on this one event – not on the teachings, not on the moral example, and not on the miracles of this man, all of which might seem more useful in these contexts, but on this man’s resurrection from the dead.

 

To be sure, this is why Christians continue to put their faith – and hope – in Jesus Christ, no matter what is going on around them.  And this is why – in the US, in Israel and the West Bank, in Iraq and Syria and Egypt, in Nigeria and Sudan, in South Korea and North Korea and China and India, in Mexico and Cuba, and in every place where Christians gather to celebrate Easter – they still respond to this ancient greeting, whether shouted from rooftops or whispered in alleyways, with the words:

 

“Truly, He is Risen!”

 



Since its founding in 1950, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has been the leading force for shared ecumenical witness among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 37 member communions -- from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches -- include 40 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.


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