April 14, 2017 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
Practice ResurrectionIt is possible to believe strongly in something, and yet at the same time not practice it. Take yoga for example. I believe wholeheartedly in the benefits of yoga, and I applaud my numerous friends who practice it on a regular basis. I myself do not practice yoga, though. The same is true for gardening and quilting. I don't practice either of these wonderful activities myself, but I certainly believe in their importance. And I happen to benefit greatly from having friends and family members who are master gardeners and master quilters. So it really is possible to believe in something and support it is a bystander without ever practicing it oneself.
I think Easter is like that, too. So as Christians around the world prepare to celebrate Easter this Sunday, the question I find to be most helpful for myself is not just "Do I believe in resurrection?" but "Am I practicing resurrection?" I can say without a doubt that for as long as I can remember I have never wavered from believing in resurrection, however, being honest, I have to acknowledge that my practicing resurrection has been as consistent as I would like over the years.
What does it mean to practice resurrection? The meaning of Easter, I believe, is that while betrayal, suffering, and death are all too real in the world they are not the final word. Resurrection is the final word. In the midst of human betrayal, suffering, and death God finds a way to bring forth, to resurrect new life. In the end, love wins. Resurrection shares the same root as the word resurgent, both pointing to life surging and remerging where previously there had been no life. So when I think further about what it means to practice resurrection, I think of doing those things that help bring life to where there has been betrayal, suffering, and death, so that healing and vitality can once again resurge. More specifically, I think any of us practice resurrection whenever we do the following: forgive, love, and serve others. There are clearly additional things we can do to practice resurrection, but these three are primary.
When we are estranged or in conflict with someone who has hurt us or whom we have hurt, life has a difficult time flowing between ourselves and the other person. When we find a way to let go of our hurt and forgive or ask for forgiveness, it is amazing how quickly new life can resurge, both in the relationship with the other person and within ourselves.
One of the most central beliefs of Christianity, as well as with most other religions, is the teaching to "love our neighbor as we love ourselves." And the love we are taught and encouraged to practice is not a simplistic love that comes easily, but the more challenging kind of love where we love both our enemies and those with whom we find little common ground. Practicing this kind of fierce love is a second way in which we can bring a resurgence of new life into the world.
A third way we can practice resurrection is through service to others. Regarding service, Mother Teresa said, "The simple path: silence is prayer, prayers is faith, faith is love, love is service, and the fruit of service is peace." When peace is restored it is a sign of resurrection, and so we could say that the fruit of service is also resurrection. We don't have to be Mother Teresa in order to be generous in giving of ourselves to others. We all havre the capacity to give something to serve the greater good, whether it is our time, our money, our attention, or our love.
We do not need more reminders of the reality of betrayal, suffering, and death in our world today. What we do need is more reminders of the reality and continued possibility of resurrection in our world. And so, as we who are Christians pause to affirm our Easter faith again this year, let us also recommit to practicing our faith in new life, by helping to bring forth forgiveness, love, and service in a world that is longing for signs of resurrection.
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