In a few days, members of Russian Orthodox churches will celebrate Easter. I’ve been trying to imagine how it might feel for them to experience Easter this year. These believers—and Christians of other faith communities—may find themselves in contexts similar to those faced by Jesus’ followers on that first Easter.
Those first disciples lived in a country tightly controlled by tyrants and their sycophants. Their economic well-being was in the hands of an elite minority of corrupt leaders and wealthy oligarchs. Their daily lives were hemmed in by civil and religious laws—and by the oppressive presence of armed troops who enforced those edicts. Autocratic systems prohibited most people from ever climbing out of poverty. However muted, danger was always present. This was especially for those who, like Jesus, resisted ingrained injustice. And perhaps what was most immobilizing: Even the religious authorities were complicit in the cruelties of their government.
I don’t know how followers of Christ fare in the Russian Federation today. The news that leaks out of that society, though, seems to indicate that it might be hard this year to celebrate the victory of Jesus over death, destruction and evil. I wonder where these fellow Christians find hope or new life. What they might think about living as Jesus invites. What it means to find and proclaim Good News in any part of their lives right now.
These things I do know for sure, though: Because of the Spirit’s power, the message of the Resurrection is still important, still active in the souls of Russia’s Orthodox Christians. (Because of their circumstances, perhaps more vital than ever?) These sisters and brothers in Christ need the prayers we offer on their behalf.
May Easter inspire all of us to celebrate God’s power over death!
(To receive these entries when they are posted, go to the upper right hand corner of the top banner and click on the three dots or parallel lines. Scroll down to the subscription form and enter your information.)