One Sunday while serving a church in Montreal I ended the morning’s prayers of confession with this assurance of pardon (based on Romans 8:34 and 2 Corinthians 5:17):
Hear the good news! Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us. Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life has gone; a new life has begun. Know that you are forgiven, and be at peace.
Later during the service while I was shaking hands at the door, one man asked me with considerable astonishment: Does Christ really pray for us? At its heart, this question may have been an honest query about conversation within the Trinity. What I heard back then, however, was a protest against my assertion that Christ is alive and active in our lives.
I think there are many people, even in the church, who see Christians as members of a memorial society. What we do in worship is simply honor our long-departed leader by remembering his teachings and attempting to live by them. We hope to grow in our knowledge, but don’t expect to encounter the living God.
But what Christians have believed through the ages is in fact much more daring. We believe that our revered leader came back to life after he died. Furthermore, we believe that while he returned to God in his resurrected body, he continues to be present to us by his Spirit. And so we expect to encounter him. We expect to benefit from his prayers and guidance in our lives on earth.
To some this is outrageous. But to us who believe, it is good news. Christ is not dead, Christ is risen. Because he is our living Lord, we look forward to encountering him in our worship, our work, and our play.