When I was young my Dad was the pastor of a small Southern Baptist church. I remember getting up early on Easter Sunday and going behind the church cemetery, where the original one room church building was, for our traditional sunrise service. We would listen to his sermon on the resurrection of Jesus and sing hymns in the cold, subtle light of early morning. Today, I am no longer Southern Baptist but we still do make it to a worship service on Sundays. Concerning the resurrection though I’ve begun listening to a different kind of sermon.
This sermon generally starts somewhere near the end of winter – when the final snow falls and begins melting. It drips and runs like tears as winter says goodbye. Everything becomes saturated, anointed as if with a new commission. The wind begins to warm. And the barren forests and mountains start whispering to one another of the change. It begins with a small and low song- a joyful hymn – usually a burst of color in the woods- a yellow bush or maybe flowers by the road. Then everyone joins in at their own pace -beginning with buds, soon there is a chorus of renewal as leaves and blooms unfold in increasing measure. Slowly their voices join as one and the sermon takes shape. What once looked like a desolate landscape filled with skeletal remains erupts into full life. Where once sleeping trees and plants stood, now a forest, joined in green, preaches to us all of resurrection. They testify of what is to come – a restoration of all things and an age to come when Jesus who says: “I am the resurrection and the life” will once and for all enact an eternal Spring.
I’ve only just begun hearing the voice of GOD in the song of the crickets and birds- in the community that is the web of living things that surround us. If we will perceive it and can accept it we will begin to understand that all of GOD’s Creation was made in love and testifies of GOD’s beauty and joy and love for us. As we remember the central reality of our faith – the resurrection of Jesus- may we too remember that one day the story ends not in death – but new life -the marriage of heaven and earth. Creation is speaking continually of this invitation to resurrection – may we learn to walk in and embody the new life that has been given to us.
Scriptures to meditate on:
Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).