First published in The Sunday Page, April 15, 2018
The Resurrection People
by Allison Pate, Faith Formation & Service Director
But [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. –Second Corinthians 12:9-10
Christ’s followers must have been kind of listless in the days after the Resurrection. Reminders of Jesus were everywhere, like the scent of a loved one when you open an old box. Things were painful and raw. Even with Jesus showing up in closed rooms and on beaches, they were still grieving the Jesus they’d known and the plans, hopes, and dreams they’d made. They were confused about what this new thing even meant. Their identities were so wrapped up with that of Jesus that we don’t even know each of their names.
I’ve been there. You’ve been there. We’ve been there. Maybe it was after a messy breakup or the loss of a loved one. Maybe it was being blindsided by bad news or after moving to a new place. We have grief when favorite trees come down and when our childhood homes are sold. But here I am reminding you that as Christians we believe in this thing called death and resurrection–that in every death there is new life, that in every ending, something new begins.
There are ten caterpillars in my office. (They’re in jars, part of a Sunday School project.) When they arrived, they were barely a centimeter long, now they’re pushing an inch and half. In a few days they’ll transform into lifeless looking chrysalides. The voracious eating and growing that’s happening now will cease—and they’ll just hang looking dead to the entire world. But days after that, something new will emerge, beautiful painted butterflies. It’s no coincidence that the banner in the Sanctuary for the Easter season is a butterfly. It represents a new life coming from something that seemed dead, much like Jesus’ death and resurrection.
When I was a newly licensed driver, I stopped at the gas station to put a few bucks of fuel into the family van. At the next pump over was an older woman who was struggling with getting her gas cap off. After watching her briefly, I approached her and offered to help. Gratitude spilled from her lips. Her husband had recently passed away and he had been the one who always pumped gas. There in the bay of the gas station, I heard about her love and her life and her grief. In the midst of fumes and spills, her new life was emerging.
Theologian Frederick Buechner says, Christ’s resurrection means that “The worst isn’t the last thing about the world. It’s the next to the last thing. The last thing is the best. It’s the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even.”
I wonder if this isn’t the center of the gospel, the good news that is ours through Christ. God chooses to show up most clearly in our worst moments, making perfect what is weak, setting right what is broken. We share in the confusion of Jesus’ followers but also in their joy. As a Resurrection People we can see something that seems like the worst and look beyond it. We can thrive in the liminal space. We can really lean into the promise of the Resurrection and know that even in our darkest moments, something beautiful will emerge.
Quote from Frederick Buechner. “The Final Beast” 1967
Faith Formation & Service Director