Letter from Dr. Joseph Tkach - Mar. 2016


March 1, 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I want to tell you the story of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. They were a remarkable group of individuals who used their God-given talents to overcome tremendous adversity to build a legacy that has burned bright for more than a hundred and fifty years.

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February 2016   

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We’re approaching the Easter season again, a time when we celebrate the most important sequence of events in Christian history – the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of our Savior, Jesus. For those of us who know the story well, perhaps from childhood, it can be hard to recapture the surprise of Christ’s victory over the grave, the shock of that first Easter for the disciples. It makes me think of another man who surprised everyone and changed the world.

He was young and smart, but didn’t have much to show for it. He was a creative thinker, but clashed with organized teaching. After failing to secure a teaching position, he found himself working long hours at a bureaucratic job. And this was where he began to think through an idea that would change the world.

His is name was Albert Einstein, and he developed his famous theory of general relativity in part from thought experiments that came out of his humble work at a patent office in Switzerland. Before he published his influential paper – just over a century ago – no one thought much of him. But his theory changed the world, or at least the way we understand it. General relativity has been a fact of the universe since creation, but it wasn’t until one man could demonstrate this reality that humankind understood this truth for the first time.

In many ways, general relativity went against what had always been presumed as true. Gravity seemed to be a force of attraction that draws smaller objects toward bigger ones, as Newton argued after a falling apple hit him on the head. But Einstein saw something no one else had: that space and time were one thing, and could be stretched and bent by larger masses in a way that affected smaller ones – like a bowling ball on a trampoline will make a golf ball roll toward it. In fact, just this month, scientists at Caltech detected gravitational waves for the first time – further confirming this view! Although it was a strange new idea at the time, Einstein’s theory explained all sorts of phenomena that had been puzzling scientists for hundreds of years. It was a surprising idea, but it matched up with the truth of God’s universe.

This “revelation,” the surprise of this universal law, is a lot like the surprise of Jesus’ resurrection. When he rose again, it revealed to the world something that had been true of him from eternity – he was a member of the Triune God, death could not defeat him, and through his resurrection we could live forever. This had been God’s plan before time itself, and was prophesied throughout the Old Testament. Jesus spoke about it too, but was misunderstood by his disciples, who had a very different idea about who the Messiah should be.

Jesus was, after all, a humble carpenter, a man without political influence in an unstable time in a tiny country occupied by a military world power. His teaching and miracles drew people closer to God, but it took the radical surprise of his rising again to show undeniably just how different the universe was than anyone had thought. The Messiah didn’t come with military and political might. He came to die. But he also came to rise again and welcome us into God’s eternal kingdom. Just as Einstein’s theory of general relativity required a radical rethinking of the laws of physics, Jesus transformed what we thought we knew about God and about the universe. Death no longer has the final word, because Jesus came. It took an utterly unique person – fully God and fully human – to save us. The Son of God lived and died as a human being so we could be saved through his resurrection.

It can be easy to forget how unexpected the Easter story is. It’s so central to our faith, and we hear about it so often, that the surprise can wear off. This Easter, I pray that you and I will be able to read the gospel accounts with fresh eyes. I pray we can realize how that Easter Sunday so long ago has changed the world forever. What seem to be the laws of the universe have been turned upside down by a God who became man, who lived a humble life on earth, who was killed, but who rose again in glory.

Just like Einstein’s theory of relativity, it can be hard to wrap our minds around what this means for us. But God’s great love was revealed to us in Jesus, in his resurrection. It showed us something deeply true about God’s plan, from before time. Here at GCI, we want to live in the wonder of the resurrection. And you don’t have to be an Einstein to see how world changing that can be!

So grateful for life in an Easter reality,

Joseph Tkach
President – Grace Communion International

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