I am a proud member of a Rotary Club in my hometown. I have been in Rotary for over ten years. I faithfully pay my dues, attend meetings, work on projects that better my community, traveled to Peru and Zambia working on projects to better those regions of the world. I have met wonderful people through Rotary. Some of my very best friends are in Rotary.
William Temple once said that the church is the only society that exists for the benefit of non-members. Temple was wrong. Rotary is an amazing organization that though not perfect, exists for the sake of others. It does good work in local communities and around the world. It is a leading force for a number of causes: stamping out polio around the world, helping people gain mobility through wheelchairs, fighting HIV/AIDS in sub-Sahara Africa, battling malaria, and creating sources for clean water.
Often I find that the church is an organization that, in spite of its language and mission statements, exists for itself. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says the church is only the church when it exists for others. In his day, and in our day, we know the church falls short of that description.
Easter is upon us. Again we celebrate the amazing good news that Jesus Christ is risen. This is the message of our gospel text today.
Rotary is a fantastic organization, but it is not the church. The church is also called to make a difference in this world, to exist for others. The church is radically different from Rotary because the church is constituted by the Easter event. Because Jesus is risen, everything changes. Paul reminds us that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, the old is gone, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17)
This Easter event is to so captivate our hearts that we cannot keep silent! As great as my Rotary Club is, it cannot change hearts or transform societies. The Easter message makes the most outrageous of claims: the power of the risen Christ makes all things new.
This gives us great hope! This hope impacts the way we live and work today. Because of Jesus everything changes. We have a hope-filled mission. We do not sit back and wait for heaven, rather we engage in our world and become a sign and an agent of the good that God desires for his loved creation.
I will continue to be a proud Rotarian, but this always pales in the light of Easter. Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed. This is the hope of world, and the hope and joy for my life.