Easter: Endings and New Beginnings

by Scott Murphy

“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. . . 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. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, He has been raised from the dead.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.” Matthew 28:1-9

 Easter! The very sound of this sacred word is filled with life. The journey we have taken during the Lenten season now brings us to stand firmly in this sacred day where Easter extends its gift of life that continues to encounter us. To whatever degree we might attempt to control it, or change its trajectory, or even deny it, the gift of Easter still comes. No matter what the condition of our life may be – broken or whole, doubting or believing, hopeless or hopeful – the gift of Easter comes and offers us a new way of seeing, a new way of being, and a new way of living. Why? Because Easter is about endings and new beginnings.

Each time I encounter the Easter story shaped by the gospel writers, I am reminded that the transformative story of Jesus’ resurrection begins in the rawness of our human emotions. For most of us today, we will begin our Easter in celebration. Children will be excited to hunt for Easter eggs. Families and friends will gather for a special meal. Congregations will come together in worship where the joyous words – Christ is risen! will fill sanctuaries with hope. But for those friends and disciples of Jesus, their first Easter morning began in the numbing reality of our human frailties. No laughter or sounds of celebration; only the sounds of how empty life can feel even when breath and heartbeat are still present. When life, relationships, hopes or passions end, it can become a sobering reminder of what brings true meaning to life.

But if there is anything the Easter story offers us, it is that God refuses to remain stuck in our endings. God, who shows up Easter morning in the first breath that filled Jesus’ lungs and in the angel who says to the women, “Do not be afraid” yearns to bring us into new beginnings.

The power of the resurrection story is the awareness that God takes our endings and invites us to experience the profound blessings in new beginnings. That new creation begins with the first breath of God’s abundant love and grace that fills us with the awareness that eternal life is not just a place and time in the future; eternal life is the depth of joy and love that comes in each breath of the divine indwelling presence God shares with us. The resurrection of Jesus is God’s shout to the world that God yearns to share in a relationship of love and life with all of creation.

It is an amazing story. But even more, it is the story that continues to unfold in all of our lives.

Today is Easter! God breathes into creation – your life – and new beginnings await.

  • What is God inviting you to let go of in your life that keeps you from a deeper connection with God that is filled with eternal joy?
  • What new beginning is God offering to your life?
  • What did you encounter during the Lenten season that brings new meaning and insight this Easter?

 

Continuing Revelation

Lenten Practice: Lectio Divina
Daily Act: Pay attention to God’s continuing revelation. How is the Living Word being spoken today through loved ones, nature, and your life?
Weekly Prayer Phrase: Repeat this phrase slowly as you breathe deeply. You may choose to memorize this phrase and repeat it throughout your day.

“LIVING WORD, LIVE THROUGH ME.”

By Katie Harmon-McLaughlin

I desire and resist this deeper seeing. What is unresolved in me rushes to slam shut the awareness door. Gazing upon the divine presence written in all living things costs my transformation. It is also my liberation, but change doesn’t always feel that way at first.

I won’t lie. This God-life can be daunting and unpredictable. To live in the Spirit of the One who is continuously being revealed means something like I can’t get too comfortable in any one place for too long. I can’t put up fences around my beliefs for a while. I can’t lay a foundation around just one experience and call it faith enough. To imagine that I am created in the image of this God is too staggering to comprehend!

This may be overwhelming to consider, this immensity of mystery, but what is revealed is so intimately relational that there is assurance even as there is humility. What we find never says to us- you don’t matter. It is always an invitation to belong. It is always an invitation to enter more deeply into the marrow of this life. It is always an invitation to become more fully alive.

So many times in our heritage, our ancestors have been tempted to build campsites and altars around a place of holy encounter only to discover that the God they desired to see had moved along to another place, doing a new thing. We can stay stubborn in stagnation of ritual or belief, but if we want relationship we are called to be a people on the move- attentive to the Divine who is being written in all things.

Sometimes this requires some dying of old assumptions and attitudes and beliefs. It requires a releasing of anything you are holding too tightly. It may crash through your fences and wreck your foundations. It will cost your transformation, but is also your liberation. If you are seeking the Living God, you are in for a wild ride!

It is not a chase as much as it is a dance, swirling through the world with this holy partner, wrapped up in each movement as the beloved of God.

In relationship with the continuously revealing God, what is unresolved in me is named holy, creation, sacred mystery beckoning in love.

“God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”- Martin Luther

“Some people, in order to discover God, read books. But there is a great book: the very appearance of created things. Look above you! Look below you! Read it. God, whom you want to discover, never wrote that book with ink. Instead, He set before your eyes the things that He had made. Can you ask for a louder voice than that?” –St. Augustine

“We bloomed in spring. Our bodies are the leaves of God.” St. Teresa of Avila