Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! (Mark 16:6)
He is Risen!
The Good News of the Gospel of Christ is the liberation of the soul one experiences through the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from the cross. This is what Christians around the world celebrate on Easter Sunday.
I was deeply moved this past week when I had the opportunity to host a Pilgrimage to Peace webinar about freedom and oppression with two guests from our partner organization Combatants for Peace. Both Sulaiman (Palestinian) and Tuly (Israeli) had experience serving as militants fighting on behalf of their people. Their stories tell of how they sought physical liberation through force… Suli as a Palestinian resistance fighter, and Tuly as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Israeli military.
For those of us who know the story of Jesus of Nazareth, many of his followers also expected him to be a liberation fighter. Even the Apostle Peter, upon whom the foundation of the church has been built, pulled out his sword in the garden of Gethsemene and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant (John 18:10) in a violent attempt at liberation.
The rebuke, “Put your sword away!” (John 18:11)
As I listened to the words of Suli and Tuly – viewed as enemies by the world – I saw two men who have come together across divides to acknowledge the dignity and humanity of the other. They talked about loving their enemies and the transformational process of moving from actions of violence to becoming combatants for peace.
This is the journey that God calls us toward. For Christians, we are reminded by Easter Sunday that death and violence are not the end of the story. Today we celebrate the ultimate good news – freedom! Freedom from sin and death. Freedom from violence and oppression. Freedom from injustice and pain.
The world has never been more in need of liberation. Liberation from disease. Liberation from fear and distrust of one’s neighbor. The liberation of the soul and the body. Liberation from the physical yokes of oppression like the military occupation of the Palestinian people.
Today we live into the hope that liberation has come.
The Easter Story reminds us that we must hold unswervingly to this hope. One day swords will be beaten into plowshares, weapons will be laid down, and peace will reign. (Isaiah 2:4). As we celebrate the resurrection of the Prince of Peace, may we lay down our swords and actively work toward peace and justice for all people in the Holy Land and the Middle East.
We often say at CMEP: Peace is possible. Justice will prevail. Today, more than ever, we hold onto these truths in the name of Christ.
Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon is CMEP’s Executive Director.