The band played. The organ resounded. The choir sang. The bells rang. God’s people gathered in worship all around the world on Easter Sunday to proclaim, “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!” By Sunday evening, the holy-day was coming to a close. People were returning home, and come Monday morning, we all went back to work.
But Easter is not over. Easter continues. Easter is not a one-day holiday, but a 50-day season, and the resurrection that Christian people proclaim is not a once-a-year celebration, but a lifelong way of life, a daily dying to ourselves and rising with Christ.
We who by grace through faith believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we are called not merely to celebrate Easter, but to live as Easter people. In the everydayness of our lives, we are called to do what Wendell Berry advises in the closing words of his poem, Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front. We are called to practice resurrection.
Now, I must admit that often times it is much easier to practice crucifixion than resurrection. It is easier to tear down, than it is to build up. It is easier to build walls than it is to build bridges. It is easier to lord it over others than it is to kneel down and wash one another’s feet. It is easier to consider someone different from ourselves to be an enemy, rather than a sibling in one, common human family. It is easier to open our mouths and try to convince others of our own “rightness” than it is to be quiet and listen to the wisdom and truth that others have to say. It is easier to tell our own stories than it is to empower others to tell theirs.
But we are called to practice resurrection.
We are called to be instruments of peace, in a world hell-bent on war. We are called to bring hope amid despair, light amid darkness, reconciliation in the midst of discord, wholeness in the midst of brokenness. We are called to bring life, to be the presence of life, in the midst of death.
During the Season of Easter, we will be learning and singing a liturgy new to us at the Chapel of the Resurrection. This liturgy was composed by Ben Splichal Larson and is entitled “Behold, I Make All Things New.”
Ben was among the 230,000 people killed in the Haiti Earthquake on January 12, 2010. Ben, his wife Renee, and his cousin Jon, were invited to Haiti for the January Term of Wartburg Theological Seminary to teach Lutheran theology with the people of Elise Lutterienne d’Haiti, and to learn about the history of Lutheranism in Haiti while studying Haitian culture.
When the earthquake hit, Ben, Renee, and Jon were together on the fourth floor of the building where they were staying. When the earth began to shake, the ceiling fell. Concrete walls caved in. Renee and Jon were able to make it out, but Ben was trapped. For a time, they knew where Ben was in the rubble because they could hear him singing, and then the singing stopped. The final words they heard from Ben, deep in the rubble were these: “God’s peace to us we pray.”
Trapped. Buried. Dying. Ben practiced resurrection.
In the singing of Ben’s liturgy, we will do the same.
We will practice resurrection. We will proclaim hope in defiance of despair, light in defiance of darkness, life in defiance of death.
I invite you over these next 50 days to join us as we learn this liturgy. I invite you to come, sing with us as we declare that God makes all things new. I invite you to give voice to the promise and the power of the resurrection — not as a past event — but as an ongoing, ever-enlivening reality. Worship is on Sunday mornings at 10.
And then I invite you to go out into your everyday lives and practice resurrection in your work and in your play, with your family and among your friends, on this campus and in the wider community. In such a way, hope, light, and life will continue to sprout and grow, and God will make all things new!
April 4, 2018
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Dr. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.