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March 5, 2017

Lent 2017: Day Five

Week One: Actionable Aspirations

Reflection for the Week: God’s goodness is the source that propels leaders into courageous action.

Michael Ramsey, the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury, is quoted as saying, “No resurrection, no Christianity.” That is a pretty clear and straight forward statement. But if resurrection is so critical to Christianity, why don’t we have an actual account of the moment of Jesus’ resurrection? All four gospels speak of an empty tomb, but none of them tell the actual story of the moment of the resurrection. If the story is so important, why is it also so open ended? What does the resurrection mean?

To get a more full idea of the breadth of the meaning of the resurrection, you have to read the appearance accounts, the ascension accounts, and all of Paul’s theology of the resurrection in his letters. For the purpose of this devotion, I will focus on the scripture above.

When the women come to the tomb, the place of death, the eternal resting place of the body, they know it has been forever sealed with a huge stone. They could never remove the stone themselves, yet when they arrive they see it has already been removed. The first truth of the mystery of the resurrection is that the barrier between life and death which we could never remove, has been removed for us. Later teachings also tell us this was done to complete the message that God’s love is steadfast, life giving and eternal. And yet, it is still a mystery to us. When my father, a retired pastor, was near the end of his life and waiting for another cancer treatment in the oncology unit, I asked him the question, “Dad, what do you think will actually happen when you die?” He answered, “John, all my life I have believed in a good and loving God. That belief has been proven true in my life, and it will be true in my death.” That’s strong faith.

There are many stones in our lives that must be rolled away to get at the mystery of God’s love for us. There are stones of doubt and fear, and stones of unhealed wounds and unanswered questions. They block our entrance into God’s healing love. I think faith is the spiritual crowbar that pries loose these stones and keeps our hearts and minds open to the entrance of God’s life giving love.

Prayer: Loving God, may I trust your love for me more completely today. Amen.