“What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.”
– 1 Peter 1:3-5
Winter came abruptly last year and its resilience has held a tight grip on my yard well into this year, laughing at the sun’s feeble attempts to break through its icy grip. But finally, on the afternoon of Easter Sunday, I was able to get to work on clearing away the remains of a summer and autumn that ended too quickly for my taste and schedule.
It was a dirty job, raking away piles of leaves and late summer’s last blooms caught unawares by the first heavy snowfall that perpetually covered my windblown neck of the world in feet of deep drifting snow, then ice, then more snow, and so on. As I raked away the layers of winter’s wrath, I’ll be darned if I wasn’t at once surprised and then heartened to see the first green sprigs of my cottage yarrow making an earnest attempt at life peeking out from the cold ground. I paused, momentarily, and praised their hard work of making their spring-green presence known, and I felt the weariness of winter loosen its grip on me. New life had won the day!
New life has a way of surprising us, doesn’t it? Often coming when we least expect it (as with those sprigs of green popping through winter’s leftover wrath.) As I returned to uncovering the rest of my yard, I pondered how easy it would have been to miss that resurrection moment in my fervent rush to get the raking done, to get rid of the death winter wrought on my yard.
We experience many deaths in our lives and they usually don’t go unnoticed – actual death, a life changing diagnosis, job changes, relationship changes (even marriage brings death to a certain way of being), children leaving the nest. Every day that we live a part of us is dying away.
But just as death closes a door on our lives, new life opens one. How often do I miss these resurrection moments happening in my life every day?
As Father Richard Rohr writes:
“I want to enlarge your view of resurrection from a one-time miracle in the life of Jesus that asks for assent and belief, to a pattern of creation that has always been true, and that invites us to much more than belief in a miracle. It must be more than the private victory of one man to prove that he is God. Resurrection and renewal are, in fact, the universal and observable pattern of everything. We might just as well use non-religious terms like “springtime,” “regeneration,” “healing,” “forgiveness,” “life cycles,” “darkness,” and “light.” If incarnation is real, and Spirit has inhabited matter from the beginning, then resurrection in multitudinous forms is to be fully expected.”
For many, many reasons, Easter is by far my favorite day of the year. Not just my favorite Holy Day but favorite day of the year. It is the one day I don’t hit the snooze button at least once – but rather bound out of bed anticipating the SON rise! It’s the day we “officially” celebrate Resurrection both of our Lord Jesus Christ and, if we are honest, of our winter and death weary souls. But after the rush to church (and I do mean rush as sometimes I get carried away with my “son-gazing” photography at dawn), festive worship services filled with rejoicing among friends and family in the light of the Resurrection, Easter Egg hunts and eggsellent brunches – I find the quiet of Easter night every bit as meaningful. For it is then, as the day quiets down, that it is just me and my Lord sorting out what all this means. And just what does it all mean for me tomorrow and the day after?
Will I live my life any differently tomorrow knowing that nothing can separate me from the love of God; that eternal life is for me now, that incomparable love and belonging are mine now; that forgiveness and true freedom are mine now – just as I am? AND that because of this living truth, I can share all this with anyone and everyone I encounter – in my current capacity – just as I am without fear, without judgment, without holding back?
Or will I fall back into the ways of this hard and weary world? Will I allow the deaths in life to obscure the opportunity of the new life they bring?
It’s a question I am faced with every morning – when the weight of the world presses in on me, when my faith, hope and joy are challenged by the news of the day, by doubt, uncertainty and darkness. Will I still be spring green and earnest and grasp the new life that continues to beckon in the midst of everything? Or will I hit the snooze button and let the storms of life and darkness pull me down?
I wish that I could say I live every day reflecting confidence that I know my Redeemer lives – and that I for certain know what that means for me in my very ordinary, often messy, anything but spring green life. But I don’t.
No, again and again I am shown the Light and choose to look away, I know the Truth and still choose mine, I know the Way – but still wander in circles.
Thankfully, every day we are given a new life – not just a chance at one. “(We) have been crucified with Christ and (we) no longer live, but Christ lives in us. The life we now live in the body, we live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us.” (Galatians 2:20)
New life is right there waiting for us to wake up – we are new every morning! Our old selves die away and we rise with the SON – with Christ – opening doors to new ways of being: knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God; that we have life eternal in an incomparable love and belonging; that we are forgiven and truly free; and, free to forgive. AND because of this living truth, we can share all this with anyone and everyone we encounter – without fear, without judgment, without holding back.
Just as the earth dies away each winter – bringing cover and nourishment for the new life that emerges each spring, we are resurrected into life to bring life to the world. Rise anew with the Son as the sun rises. It’s a gift and a reason to jump out of bed for – not just on Easter Sunday – but every day.
Let your light so shine!