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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

April 2014

~Resurrection: Getting from Here to There~

“But God raised him up, having freed him from death,
because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.
~Acts 2:24

Members and Friends,

The longer I live, and the longer I proclaim the message of hope that we find in our faith, the more I come to understand that everything hinges on resurrection.  My Cameroonian godson recently posted a grainy old photo on FaceBook, circa 1998.  The picture shows the two of us talking in front of our little concrete bungalow on the mission station.  My first thought was, “Yowza, did I always look so sick in those days?”  (Malaria, typhoid, dengue fever.  How is it even possible to be healthier at 44 than at 28?)  I like to tell people—myself included—that the Africa years were a happy time.  But pictures don't lie, and this one does not reveal the valiant young adventurer who lives in my memory.  It reveals a pasty, weak death-mask of him.  Just as I was getting ready to dispatch the old photo into outer darkness (so that no one I know would see it), I noticed the caption that my godson had attached to it…blessing and thanking me for my impact on his life.  The praise was touching but embarrassing; the photo was horrifying.  And yet, for just an instant, my overactive ego slinked back toward its cage.  My mind drifted back over the miles, over the years, to a time and place where it often goes in quiet moments, a place of palm trees, and exotic birdcalls, and endless illness.  A place of blinding light, and bright smiles, and shocking violence.  Sometimes in my sleep, the noises and the smells still return to me.  Those days were actually not my golden age.  Today is really far better.  But yesterday had to happen, for today is born out of it.  When I wonder how life got from there to here, the word that comes to me is “resurrection.” 

I do not claim to know exactly what resurrection is...and I would never reduce it to a mere parable.  I cannot say precisely what resurrection is, but I do know that I have seen what it can be in a human life—my godson's life, my own, countless others.  I find it now and again in our world, though I don't always possess the clarity to call it that.  It comes as healing.  It comes as forgiveness.  It comes after long periods of illness, or fear, or doubt.  Resurrection happens sometimes when we're not looking.  It comes in the night.  I think we see resurrection best in retrospect when we look back and realize, “Oh yes, Someone other than me was holding me fast,  Someone bigger, wiser, gentler, and infinitely more patient.” 

No one is a complete stranger to the mystery of resurrection.  Where have you seen it in your life?  How have we seen it here in our church?  Resurrection is God's one and only plan for all of human history, and it only happens when the time is right.  Our graveside burial service calls resurrection “the sure and certain hope.” If we would dwell on those moments of personal resurrection, then surely we would face the future more calmly.  It's the getting from here to there that's often hard...because there's always, always a cross somewhere in between. 
Happy Lent and Easter Season to You.