TO WHOM DO our lives belong? The Barmen Declaration, written in 1934, was a theological statement by a small group of German Protestants in response to the growing pro-Nazi movement within German Christianity. It stated, “We reject the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords—areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.” The signers of the Barmen statement said this because the confederation of German Protestant churches (which would eventually become the state church under the Nazi Third Reich) was demanding allegiance to the state in all areas of life and faith. The close of Eastertide gives us an opportunity to consider, in our own time and place, to whom we belong and what that means for how we live now amid echoes of authoritarianism.
In this season, we read of Jesus’ growing influence and what it meant for his disciples to reckon with a world in which resurrection is possible. If the threat of death is muted, if not even prison can contain the good news, then how emboldened will a small-but-mighty movement become in the face of a powerful empire and its proxies? Can this good news still reach us—we who are worn from the immense grief of the last two years? Can we find our second wind to share this good news and build God’s reign? I believe Eastertide has a particular resonance for these times.