From Our Pastor;
There are shades of green on the tops of the trees, like the fuzz on a baby’s head. The Dormant life of last year’s fall is beginning to surge, giggling and gurgling, with hope of maturity by Spring’s end. So by the time our Spring’s storms, and fits and starts have concluded, the trees should be decked out for summer, lettuce and carrots should start to spring forth, and Sydney and Nancy and others will be advising me on how to participate in nature’s fruitfulness, though my garden is a poor representation of nature’s potential.
Spring. It is no coincidence that Easter is celebrated in the Spring. This blending of the natural and the liturgical is nothing new. It is an ancient pattern. In fact, dying and rising deities are not unique to our Christian tradition. Baal in the ancient Ugaritic (A northern Canaanite city bordering Israel) myths was always in a tenuous battle with Mot (death), and resurged with the new growing season. There are many others. Yes, the Christian tradition is unexceptional in these respects, celebrating the rebirth of a deity and connecting it to the rebirth seen and experienced in the natural world, even to depend on the deity for this rebirth and renewal and the consequent sustenance of human life. These similarities help to accent the differences, however; these help to accentuate the distinctiveness of the cruciform and resurrected life of Christ. In Christ, there is more than a resurgence of something old, more than a sustenance of biological life, more than a resignation to the seasons of death and rebirth – there is a conscious choice; a conscious choosing of self-sacrifice, a conscious choosing of selflessness, and change, and dying to self so that something new might come.
In Spring, we more or less know what will grow. In the cruciform journey of dying and rising that we walk with Christ, we are less certain. In what ways will Christ lead us when we die to our certainty, to our need for success, to our need to be liked, to our need to be in control? In what expressions of grace will we find ourselves when we give ourselves to the sacrificial love of Christ? In what types of ministry will we be called when we realize that we too are called to be the body of Christ given to the world?
Death. Life. Breaking. Re-surging. Dying. Rising. Letting go. Being lifted up. These are the yearly rhythms of the cruciform journey of being Christ’s disciple. These are the yearly rhythms that shape us, that remake us, that transform us into the followers of a Christ who does not grasp at power or prestige or control, but gives himself for the healing and forgiveness and wholeness of the world. So when Christ rises anew on Easter, something wholly new is possible. It is not just that we will survive another year, but we will live forgiven, and whole, renewed and reconciled. A newness we cannot manipulate or anticipate. A newness that comes in following Christ, in taking up our own crosses and following in his footsteps.
Philippians 2: 5-11
5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
It is the Christian journey of discipleship that through these yearly rhythms our own lives might more and more be entwined with the cruciform life and journey of Christ. That through the dying and rising, breaking and healing, falling away and being lifted up, we might be bound up in Christ, and that we too might birth forth healing and hope, forgiveness and wholeness. And perhaps when the fits and starts of this life are over, the peach fuzz of that newly born might give way to the fruitful tree of a life that Christ has shaped and formed – with fruit more sweet and lush than any we might have anticipated.
Grace and peace,