Resurrection Living

Rev. David R. Lyle

When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” (Mark 16:1-7)

The women go but not with hope. They go simply to do what must be done when a loved one dies. Even this task poses impossible challenges, for who among them can roll away a stone so heavy? The point is rendered moot, and the women mute, as they are met by the most surprising scene of all. The stone is rolled away and Jesus is nowhere to be found. Christ is not here behind death’s closed door. He is alive, in Galilee and beyond, playing in places throughout creation. He has been raised. Alleluia!

At the end of our discipline we fall headlong into deep waters of mysterious grace. There is little left to do but to chase after Christ and cling to him in faith. Just so, the disciplines of Lent are revealed as the marks of resurrection living. The life of Christian discipline is not the Sisyphean striving of those without hope. It is the joyful response of those who are already right where they need to be. Today, we stand with the women, blinking in the light of the newly risen Son. He calls our name and brings us back to life. Alleluia!

The stone is rolled away, the life of discipleship beckons. Christ goes ahead of us, calling us to follow him on a journey of joy beyond measure. Go! There you will see him. Alleluia!

Easter Prayer: Risen Christ, the light of your life drives out all shadows. Let me walk in this light always. Amen.

Thank you for traveling with us through these Lenten Disciplines. May the realities of confession, repentance, fasting, almsgiving, prayer, and acts of mercy live in your life as together we celebrate God’s unending love for us revealed at the cross. And may the resurrected Christ free our hearts that we might proclaim that love to all the world.

The Dying and Rising

Dr. Jill Peláez Baumgaertner

And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead.’”
(Matthew 28: 2-7a)

Holy Saturday, the day between the cross and the resurrection. Imagine Christ in the tomb, bending toward Easter, before it’s noticed. The garden in the deep night after God’s rapt silence has no breath. No echo even in the soon to be vacant tomb which no one yet has visited, no one seen, and yet everywhere his breathing, the turn begins, the blanket of sunrise in mist stretches to swaddle the earth, gouged and waiting. We are “hidden with Christ in God” we read in Colossians. As a human baby Christ was first hidden in Mary’s womb, and his birth brought God to meet the living face to face. In his death he was hidden in the tomb, and his resurrection gave life to the dead forever. Hesychius of Jerusalem, a fifth-century Orthodox monk, wrote, “In my journey I beheld a new wonder—an open tomb, a man risen from the dead, bones exulting, souls rejoicing, men and women refashioned, the heavens opened and powers crying out: ‘Be lifted up, you everlasting doors, that the king of glory may come in.’” The doors are open and the women, the first in the world to confront the empty tomb, rush to tell all.

Prayer: Lord God, we have died in our baptism and we hide in you, knowing that with you we will appear in glory. Refashion us in our resurrection to be people of justice and peace.  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

What Wondrous Love

Julie E. Hinz

One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23: 39-43

This day is a favorite church holiday for this writer. Without the understanding of the horrors of Good Friday, Easter would be just another Sunday. We need the “great ordeal” of Jesus’ death so that the miracle of Easter can shine more brightly in its triumphant glory.

Even in the midst of horrific physical pain, immense emotional anguish, verbal abuse, spiritual warfare, Jesus shows us who he is with this final act of mercy and love. Tucked inside those horrors the love of our Savior continues to glow; like a dying ember when hit with a sudden burst of oxygen, mercy flares up when encountering the need of one of God’s beloved children. Looking beyond himself and the horrors of the moment, Jesus looks into the heart of the man dying beside him, bringing hope and salvation to a condemned criminal whose death parallels his own. What wondrous love is this!

Our earthly trials will never reach the magnitude of those suffered by our Savior in his last hours. But knowing our eternities are secure in Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are given the freedom to love, to serve, to forgive, to show mercy to every neighbor.

Prayer: God of our dying and rising, grant us your spirit in all things so that living or dying, we might live fully as your disciples, reflecting your love, mercy, grace, and peace to all we encounter, to the end of our days. Amen.

To Know and To Do

Rev. Michael Costello

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. (John 13: 12-17)

There are two verbs at the center of this passage from John—to know and to do.

Jesus asks, “Do you know what I have done to you?” He goes on to explain that as he has washed the disciples’ feet, they ought to wash one another’s feet. This is good to know. But Jesus tells the disciples that because of his example they should also do as he has done to them.

Although we often worship on screens these days, the message we all know still comes through: God, in the person of Jesus Christ, gave his very life for us and for our salvation. “Jesus loves me, this I know.” But what shall we do?

We are to embody Jesus’ example, to wash one another’s feet. We are called to serve, and sacrificially so, for the sake of healing, clothing, feeding, perhaps even saving the life of another. During these times, that may be as simple picking up the phone or sending an e-mail.

This passage concludes: “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” May we listen clearly to know even more Christ’s saving deeds for us and, with hearts full of joy, may we also act, doing the work of embodying Jesus’ sacrificial love.

Prayer: God our Father, help us to know your saving love for us through your Son, and by your Spirit’s power help us to love one another as you first loved us; through the same Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.