“Those who love me will keep my word,” Jesus said.
Jesus invites us to surrender our will to God. Each of us have our own ways to win for ourselves happiness, security, admiration, and control. Those who love Jesus accept those ways for what they are--self-defeating. Instead of keeping their ways, they keep Jesus’ word of love and mercy. Father Richard Rohr calls this “a radical surrendering of our will to Another whom we trust more than ourselves.”
When have you had the experience of turning your life over to God? What happened? What is the Holy Spirit teaching you today?
Easter everydayYou do it your way, and I do it mine, but together we keep trying to manage death and our fear of it and trying to produce for ourselves everlasting life. Sometimes we even convince ourselves that we succeeded!
But thanks be to God, Jesus then is Jesus now. Crucified and risen, Jesus reveals himself among us and for us as alive and calling us to the living way. Surrender to Christ’s victory. Take courage: more rebirth is to come. Notice what the frame changes. Grieve with hope. Receive the peace of God.
With Jesus Christ, you also are firstfruits and firstborn of the dead, for the sake of the rebirth of the world.
Thanks be to God.
Pastor Clark Olson-Smith
God’s peace for usAnd the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:7
This peace, we must confess, is beyond us! Paul said so three times. It’s “the peace of God” not of humans. It “surpasses all understanding,” so it’s a mystery to humans. And its “in Christ Jesus”—for us but beyond us.
In the face of death, we know terror and despair. Any peace, faith, hope, love, or courage we find is most certainly a gift of God’s grace, a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit.
So do not fear your fear of death or your feelings of loss or hopelessness. They are natural. Death truly is an enemy. And yet, Christ really is the firstborn of the dead.
Grief and Easter
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. —1 Thessalonians 4:13
Here Paul begins to describe what it means that death and loss are framed by baptism into Jesus Christ, the firstborn of the dead. Paul invites Christians to grieve with hope.
Too many people hold onto their emotionally-repressed, “feel no feelings” European heritage as if it’s the Lord’s own command. As if Paul wrote, “Do not grieve!” Full stop.
Wrong! Paul rejects this foolishness. Grieve, by all means! Grieve with hope. I’m an emotionally-repressed European who is learning what this means. It liberates me, even while its often uncomfortable and inconvenient.
It’s okay to feel your feelings. It’s okay to express your feelings. The road of hope is paved with tears. Tears are a remembrance of baptism.
We cannot trust in Jesus Christ, firstfruits and firstborn of the dead, while denying the pain of death and loss. Numb people don’t need trust, only people who are coming to life. Only living bodies feel pain and mourn and know in their bones how needful it is never to lose hope.