Pay attention. From the ashes, he is risen. Jesus lives.
Be astounded! From the rubble, he is risen. Jesus lives.
Tell about it. From the tomb, he is risen. Jesus lives.
What we focus on, and the meaning we read into it, determines whether we feel blessed or cursed. Did I just miss out on my dream? Or am I living the dream someone else would have wanted? What we focus on determines what we see. How we see our lives determines how we feel about them. And how we feel about them leads to very different ways of living.
God is the Bonsai Master of our lives. The expert artist who looks after our growth with so much intentional care. Who has nurtured us and shaped us every moment of our life.
So often, the inadequacy we feel for our faith comes from when we think we have to be the gardeners of our own lives. We believe, falsely, that it is on us to craft our lives into our own perfect design. On us to have to shape our lives in the right way, to wrap the wire around the branches and contort ourselves into our own vision of who we should be.
"So what might First Presbyterian Church of Granville do to promote environmental stewardship in our corner of the world – Licking County? What might First Presbyterian Church do to improve the world for our children’s generation and our grandchildren’s generation? ...What if our church committed to a mission project where community members donated money to plant a tree in honor of each of their children and maybe their grandchildren? How many trees might we be able to plant? Five hundred in five years? Is that too large of a goal or possibly is that too small of a goal?"
That happens a lot for me – remembering bits of scripture at moments I need them. I suppose it’s like a song popping into your mind, or lines from a movie or a show you watch. They just come to you. But somehow these words have a different kind of weight, to me at least. They’re not just familiar words, they’re the words of somebody who loves me. It’s like having a best friend, only my best friend’s name is God. And the words of scripture are like God’s voice, coming to me when I most need it. Reminding me of what I need to hear.
We place ourselves in the hands of God, with each other. Purposefully. Mindfully. Intentionally. We make a decision to feed our souls. We don’t take it for granted. We don’t assume that we’ll learn faith by osmosis, or leave it to chance. We’re deliberate, purposeful, and consistent about growing our faith. We know that what we put into ourselves shapes us, changes us, and we seek out ways to feed our spirits. To let God shape us into something beautiful.
I think if we are being honest, we are all like Thomas.
And even if we don’t always have a skeptical questioning personality,
I think we all have our Thomas moments, where we struggle with our belief, and have doubt. It doesn’t matter how pious we may be, or how much we seem to have figured out our faith, we all struggle with our belief.
I think we all can relate to him, and I think that is exactly why we have this story.
Because we won’t necessarily get to see Christ as Thomas did in this life.
we won’t get to actually stand with him face-to-face, to touch his wounds, and see that he was once dead, but now lives.
We won’t get the physical evidence in order believe.
We are counted among those who must believe without seeing.
But because of Thomas, we know,
that even in the midst of our doubts, even in the midst of our questions
Christ will show up bearing his peace.
Christ will show up, and meet us with the very things we need to believe.
This is why Jesus came. Because of the vicious power of sin and death. This is why he gave his own life. So that death would not have the final word. So death will not win. People we love die; we will die, too. I hate that it’s so. The cost of coming into the world is having to leave it. The cost of loving someone is having to lose them. But death is not the only thing that is true.
Eternal life is also true. This story of Lazarus, it points us to the power beyond what we see in this world. And that’s what gives us power to face what we must face. Because of Jesus, death will not win.
If we are to truly follow Christ.
If we are to truly identify ourselves with the risen Christ. Then resurrection is our calling.
To see hope and possibility where the world sees worthlessness…
To see potential where the world sees hopelessness
And not only see hope and see possibility, but to create it.
Our calling is to join God in redeeming creation’s brokenness.
Renewing it with beauty, Renewing it with love.
Make renewal and resurrection a daily practice!
This is our work!
It is our work as Easter people… To go where there is no life, to go where there is no hope
and little by little. Seed by seed.
Through small subversive acts of love and redemption.
Show the world how new life in the risen Christ looks.
"We do this by remembering the saints of our life. We turn to their stories, and lift up the memories of all of the saints we’ve known in our lives, and even those we haven’t known who have gone before us.
We meet them here at this table and here they are restored to full life, just as we are.
We remember how they lived,
how they found hope,
how they shared grace with others,
and how they passed it on to us.
And somewhere along the way, in these memories or at this table… we find hope that God’s kingdom is not some far off hope, but something that is coming closer to us every day."