The Ripples of the Resurrection

Today around the world, Christians recited the following dialogue:

“Christ is risen.”
“He is risen indeed.”

And indeed he is. The apostle Paul correctly remarked that a false resurrection would result in a foolish religion. If Jesus has not been raised, then none of us will be redeemed (1 Corinthians 15:14-17). This simple equation has wrapped into it the complexities of what I call the “ripples of the resurrection”.

christ's tombOne cannot speak of the resurrection as a phenomenon regarding one body of one man missing from one tomb on one day in a land and time far removed from my own. This simply will not do. If even one legitimate resurrection has taken place, then a monumental movement has been unleashed. Death’s dam has sprung a leak. Mortality’s mantle has been torn. One dead one returning to life declares that the barriers we have deemed insurmountable are not so; limitations have lapsed and borders have broken.

pebble in poolA rock of resurrection has been dropped into the pool of the universe, and the ripples will extend until the edges of the cosmos have felt its impact. The same ripples are also moving through the portion of creation known as “your life”. Feel the swell of the wave as the resurrection’s reach extends to, and through, your realm. Stopped to breathe and dare to dream. Christ’s resurrection reconfigures our existence, and it has nothing to do with how worthy or unworthy we are of such a magical touch.

In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul sums up the mystery of Christ’s resurrection power in this sentence: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Some have remarked that the Greek text is even shorter and downright abrupt. It literally looks like these three phrases:

  • If Anyone
  • In Christ
  • New Creation

boomA mathematician might create a basic equation from these three parts. A chemist might imagine a playful “boom” as the first two ingredients mix to form the third. Whatever the imagery, the language demands that we leave a gap. There is mystery. How does the combination of the first two phrases equate to the third? What connects these dots? What happens in that in-between space?

We need not know.

And we cannot know.

It’s the ripples of the resurrection. It is the movement of an incomparable wave proceeding from its start point and forcing its will and way upon all that it touches. One day the ripples of the resurrection will reach the edges of the pool. Every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

For today, be prayerful regarding, and perceptive to, the ripples of the resurrection in your life.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

And he is but the first.

Come Awake!

typewriterOccasionally, I compose short pieces for our church bulletin. While most would consider 250 words or less shorter than the ideal blog post, allow me to share one such recent post below. If such articles are useful to you or your church for similar use, consider permission granted. Please just tag on my blog address for the sake of reference.

COME AWAKE

Easter marks a season of awakening. Seedlings press through the darkness of dirt into the light of life. Chicks break free from restrictive shells into a wide-open world. Small children and their mothers jailbreak from too-tight living rooms into the energy-burning spaciousness of the yard!

But Easter is not just your average awakening. It does not resemble the groan of reaching for a too-early alarm clock. Nor is it like dim mornings when first thoughts include longing for the too-far-away re-entry into bed.

Easter speaks of an awakening tied to readiness. Perfectly ripened, Easter delivers us from defeat. It is the provider of possibility and the feeder of faith. It dares us to dream and frees us to function on levels we had considered unreachable.

Whatever the sensation is of a stalled and still heart bursting forth to beat again, a similar power seeks to break forth into any life submitted to the risen Lord.

Be assured that whatever death-deposits you feel – fear, addiction, despair, isolation, apathy – the board is set to see such realities devastated as you enter a life of freedom and power, provided for you by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.

Whatever your slumber, it is time to come awake!

Six-Pack (63)

Welcome to the Easter weekend’s edition of the Six-Pack.

As is the pattern, the half-dozen links below lead to the best online offerings I have recently read, related to ministry or faith, with just enough space left for who-knows-what!

If six ever feels daunting, start with my two *Picks of the Week*, and go from there.

For a steady stream of such links, follow me on Twitter to the right of this post.  Sharp quotes and solid articles are tweeted 3-4 times daily.

Today’s edition:

1) Empty Tombs and the Suddenness of Dawn (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
Nadia Bolz Weber, who once shared my faith heritage, shares this powerful piece on the surprising nature of resurrection, beginning with Lazarus and ending with every single one of us.

2) What I Learned Watching 150 Hours of TED Talks
This HBR piece is hardly earth-shattering, but as the title suggests, a few minutes of reading could save you 150 hours of viewing!

3) Meet Author Mark Buchanan
The Word Guild introduces readers to author Mark Buchanan. If you don’t already know him, you should.

4) 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently (*PICK OF THE WEEK*)
The creative process has always fascinated me. What ticks within artists or creative minds that enables something new to be brought into existence? This post highlights some of the attributes and habits frequently fueling creativity.

5) The Porn-Free Family Plan
Tim Challies offers this detailed sketch of how parents might craft a plan to guard their homes and children from the destructive power of pornography. Lots of practical tips here.

6) The History of Ties
The folks at Ethos3 answer the question men have been asking for years: Why am I wearing a stylish little noose around my neck?

May your week ahead be filled with life, as you seek the One from whom it flows!

leaveacommentYOUR TURN: Your input makes this post better!

  • Which link above was today’s best-of-the-best?
  • Why that one?

Direct others to the best of the bunch with a quick comment.

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Because He Lives

Here is David Crowder bringing one of the finest Easter hymns I know:

Three Lent Voices

Here are three directions that you may head if you are looking for help in building or maintaining some “Lent focus” in this pre-Easter stretch:

Ann Voskamp shares experiences of how her fasting attempts are proving to be far more convicting than inspiring. And in the long run, that is a most life-giving gift.

In “The Wonder of Lent,” Margaret Feinberg speculates that the question, “What are you giving up for Lent?” is surpassed by another: “What do you hope to lay hold of during Lent?”

For Relevant Magazine, Caryn Rivadeneira shares “Why Ash Wednesday Matters”. This can serve a quick catch-up for those who are just realizing that the Easter “began” last week. (I recorded my first Ash Wednesday experience back HERE if you need a vicarious well to draw from.)

 

My First Ash Wednesday

Ash WednesdayToday I attended my first Ash Wednesday service.

For a guy raised within a Christian heritage that paid minimal attention to the Christian calendar, this was noteworthy.

At a local Anglican Church, I joined a “crowd” of fewer than twenty. For a moment, I wondered if I was in the wrong place. The masses pour forth when the life of Easter is dished out; I suppose it is expected that discussions of dying will thin the crowd.

Service opened with this prayer together:

Almighty and everlasting God, You despise nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our brokenness, may obtain of You, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Fire and Ashes

After further Scriptures and prayers, the priest shared a few thoughts. He highlighted the season of Lent as a time of spiritual cleansing, a period during which we make choices on how to create extra space: for God’s special arrival and for our sharpened attention.

In speaking of the ashes about to be smudged on each forehead, he pointed out that the upcoming Easter message of resurrection, by its nature, must be preceded by a message of death. Crosses comes before crowns, and fires come before ashes.  Steelmakers use repeated burnings to strengthen and solidify their metals. The blacksmith known as Yahweh subscribes to a similar strategy. People of faith are purged toward purity and hardened toward holiness through seasons of fire. To live out Lent is to willingly enter the flames. It is to mark oneself with ashes, convinced that every burn of self-death will be honored by the One in whom abundant life dwells.

All the Same

There is a beautiful solemnity in the imposition of ashes. The priest approached each of us, smudging (or “imposing) a dull black cross on our foreheads as he spoke one simple sentence, “From dust you came, and to dust you shall return.” I watched the first worshipers receive this moment, eyes closed or heads bowed or eyes locked on the priest’s. My turn came and went, and by the end of the semi-circle, all of us bore the mark of mortality. The woman to my right would likely dine at a soup kitchen later that day. The gentleman to my left was a federal judge from Ottawa, in town for the week. The priest himself had been marked by a church member. High and mighty, meek and meager–all lines are erased when dust and ashes are the theme. Most in the room wore silver hair that betrayed the fact that they were further from the dust-birth than I was, but charcoaled crosses now reminded that none of us knew who was closest to their dust-return.

One might take exception to the Ash Wednesday mantra. “I’m not just dust; the part of me that is really me isn’t that.”  True enough, but even the objection serves to highlight the point: None of us contain life. We do not generate it or guarantee it. There is One from whom it flows; He is its fountain and its founder.

And if the wearing of a greyed facial mark helps drill that in, then smudge up, my friends!

Christ is Risen!