Resurrection: Not the Same Old Same Old
“[Jesus] has become a priest… through the power of an indestructible life.” – Hebrews 7:16
Beloved St. John’s community,
How was Easter for you? Regardless of whether you sang the hymns with Chad or Washington National Cathedral, or whether your kids hunted Easter eggs—some things were really different; and some things were the same.
Did you know that in our tradition, we celebrate Easter for 50 days, not one? I think it took all of fifty days, and a giant awakening of the Spirit at Pentecost, to celebrate that Jesus rose from the dead. Why? Because his resurrected being was not the same as his old self. When Christians talk about resurrection, we really don’t mean that things went back to the way they had been. We don’t mean that life gets to continue as we know it—for Jesus and the disciples, or for us whenever death and destruction and tragedy strike.
And this is the thing that takes time to adjust to. Resurrection is still a cause for thunderous, earth-shattering, permanent joy that transcends pleasure and pain. But it isn’t the same old same old. Encoded in our DNA is knowing that God’s Spirit, who from the beginning has created something out of nothing, can and will create life out of death. It just won’t be—entirely—the same. There will be some continuity, and some discontinuity. What will be the same will be the love of God in forms that we eventually recognize.
There couldn’t be a better time to remember that Easter Takes Fifty Days, Friends. Time to adapt to unwelcome change; time to discover and mourn our losses; and time to celebrate the utter joy that happens when we recognize that God is still here; Jesus is still, always and forever, about the unconditional love, healing, liberating and life-giving Presence of God in physical reality.
So if you feel any of the following:
- you hate the new normal
- you love that the new normal lets you see your family more
- church, work, the world just aren’t the same
- you love being able to skip the parts of the service you don’t like
- you miss your favorite [hymn][prayer][coffee hour][sitting by your BFF in the pews][fill in the blank]
- you love not having to commute
- your stress level is beyond what it feels like it should be
- you have had surprising moments of meaning and connection over zoom
- you can’t stand another zoom call
- you have never been clearer about what is actually important to you
- you’re losing your mind
Then, know you are exactly where you should be: adapting to Easter. Let me say that again. What you are adapting to isn’t JUST this awful pandemic. It isn’t JUST all the changes. It is also resurrection: it is also the unshakeable reality of God in Christ who brings life and love that cannot be defeated by any force in the cosmos.
Just like Israelites in the desert after liberation, who needed to learn they could trust a God who gave them just enough manna for every day, Christians after the resurrection of Jesus—then and now—need to learn how to trust God though radical change.
So during these fifty days of Easter, amid your daily checking of how many people are infected with COVID-19, what the Governor has said about stay at home or social distancing, check also to see if you are recognizing resurrection. There will be continuity and discontinuity with the old way of being; but you’ll know it when your heart burns within you; when it comes with Jesus whispering peace in your spirit; when there is love, liberation, and life before you. We don’t yet have all this figured out, but we are learning to trust the God who feeds us daily. So that we truly can continue to say,
Alleluia! Christ is risen!
The Lord is risen indeed, Alleluia!