For a lot of us minister types, the days following Holy Week and Easter are a period of physiological recuperation. Much like our muscles can get sore after a good workout, the post-Easter week brings a soreness in mind, body, and spirit that says, “Whew! That was some rigorous work. Now, you need to rest a bit before you try that again.” It’s a condition that church staffs everywhere are all too familiar with, but it’s one that I welcome; because soreness indicates not only the need for rest, but proof of building strength. Newness and transformation are at work. That’s resurrection stuff, and these are the days of Eastertide for all of us.
The Easter sermon looked at the Gospel of Mark, and how it ends at an empty tomb. There’s a kind of “where to from here” feeling in Mark’s account of the resurrection. If we go back to the beginning of Mark’s gospel (remember we did this last year at Friends Church with a post-Easter sermon series that went from the first chapter of Mark to nearly the end of it to get better understanding of the life and ministry of Jesus), we find that it starts not with Jesus’ birth, but with his baptism. The Rev. Dr. Cheryl Lindsay comments that “baptism serves as Mark’s representation of Christ entering into the human condition. It stands to reason that the empty tomb, for Mark, represents Christ leading humanity into the resurrection condition.” As Dr. Lindsay points out, “resurrection is life made new and transformed,” and Eastertide invites us into the resurrection condition.
We spend so much time examining the human condition that we don’t give much thought to the resurrection condition—to OUR resurrection condition. Well, if Easter is believed to be the pinnacle of the Christian faith, we might want to unpack this notion of a resurrection condition. Children’s messages are often easier to grasp (and might resonate deeper with us) than sermons, so think about it in terms of the Easter Sunday children’s message about Adrian the caterpillar’s journey to a cocoon and into “life made new and transformed.” Dr. Lindsay explains:
We weren’t created for normal. We have been crafted for transformation. We are capable of making extraordinary adjustments. Resilience grows in us when exposed to pressure and challenge. Like the metamorphosis of the caterpillar to the butterfly, a good thing can become a great thing when it enters into a process and changes location. The caterpillar is a fine creation, but the butterfly takes our breath away. Too often we settle for comfort when we should strive for an uncomfortable flight that will take us to places beyond our imagining. We’re content as caterpillars when we could become the butterfly if we’re only willing to complete the story and enter into uncomfortable places.
Remember, like Sunday’s Easter sermon title asserts, you are “the unfinished gospel,” and you are invited into the resurrection condition. God loves you, and God is not through with you ever. That’s not only what Eastertide is all about; it’s what this entire life of faith is about.
Questions for reflection: What is your condition of being new and transformed? How did you get here, and where will you go from here?
Prayer: God of Easter miracles and resurrection joy, I thank you that you have led me beside still waters and delivered me in paths of righteousness for your namesake in different ways and at particular times in this unique life that you gave to me and only me. Now, by your grace, grant me the strength to follow you from the human condition into the resurrection condition, from familiar routines and ways of living into challenging blessings and a transformed life so that I might give stronger witness to your justice, mercy, and love in this life that only I can live, and that you look upon and call good. In the name of the resurrected one, amen.