When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
We can allow the mourning of these days to define everything about them. Or we can watch for the sequels of the Resurrection.
We are in the season of resurrection.
Easter was last Sunday in the western calendar and many eastern Christians will be celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord next Sunday. That said, with the glut of online Easter worship videos passing from our social media feeds, replaced by the regular news and postings of this pandemic, you might forget that the Easter season runs a full seven weeks.
This was already hard to keep in mind with “marketeers” and others pressing on toward the Memorial Day holiday and beyond. This year, it’s even harder. It’s not just what feels to be an unseasonably cold spring. It’s the global death toll and the local news that’s wearing us out. It’s the stories of exhausted hospital staff and arguments in halls of power that leave us wondering if we’ve collectively got what it takes to get through. It’s the panic buying that leaves store shelves bare and reminds us of our fragile interdependence. It’s this isolation that all of us are enduring for the sake of our more vulnerable neighbors. Given the limitations on testing, it’s the best thing to do – that doesn’t make it good. And now, with students dispersed and faculty and students doing their level best to get their work done, we’ve come, as a campus, to a time of staff furloughs. This week, many will be losing their Valpo paycheck in the weeks ahead.
I suspect it will be hard for many to be mindful of resurrection hope in the midst of filling out unemployment insurance applications and just as hard when you’re the ones making the decisions.
In spite of the spring, in spite of the season, this feels like dying more than it does like rising.
Personally, I take a great deal of comfort in the knowledge that every eyewitness to Jesus’ resurrection needed to be talked into it.
Mary Magdalene, the first eyewitness, misreads the evidence before she becomes convinced and runs to tell the others. In Luke, she and her companions are dismissed as foolish. In John, the testimony of these eyewitnesses is met with unbelief not just once but, courtesy of Thomas, twice, In Mark, the eyewitness women can’t even bring themselves to speak. Even when we get to the end of the Gospel of Matthew, with Jesus gathering his disciples all-around some are doubting. It’s hard to believe in resurrection when the rest of life experience seems to deny the possibility. Yet, these first witnesses became convinced. They remembered what Jesus had promised and their believing led to their seeing.
In hindsight, Jesus had been announcing the coming of his resurrection all along — not just in his teaching but in his doing. Seven miracles precede the resurrection in the Gospel of John; all of them provide life and abundance that overtakes death. The seventh and greatest one, the raising of Lazarus, is a clear anticipation of Jesus’ own resurrection, I think it’s helpful to see each of these as a prequel to Easter morning.
Now, this side of the Resurrection, with the Church proclaiming the victory of life over death, we have the opportunity to watch for the sequels. In the Book of Acts, the Apostles carry on Jesus’ ministry – in some cases performing life-giving miracles. These miracles tied their work to that of Jesus. Christians have been involved in life-giving work ever since, and all humanity, as we serve and care for those around us are among the ways in which God, who has worked out salvation, provides for life in these days between Jesus’ resurrection of the body and our own.
We can allow the mourning of these days to define everything about them. Or we can watch for the sequels of the Resurrection – the many ways in which life is brought to bear where death was assumed to reign. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I will be called to the latter.
April 15, 2020
Caravaggio 1573 – 1610
oil on canvas (107 × 146 cm) — 1602-1603
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Better Together
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- We had hoped
- What do you do with your anger?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future