Lately, the church is in the season of Easter with that strange word, “Resurrection”. In our post-Christian world, many people must view it as antiquated and irrelevant. People don’t rise from the dead! An interesting story, like Santa Claus, but…what does it have to do with my world? This week, we in our house church are scanning our weeks for “resurrection stories”, in preparation for Sunday’s meeting.
Growing up in a Christian faith, I believed in the resurrection of Jesus without question. After all, the pictures were right there in my illustrated Bible! It’s quite something else to embrace this word, and reality, as an adult. As Scott Peck famously said, “Life is difficult,” and to really believe that there is hope beyond our difficulties is not always that easy. For the first disciples, the thought of Jesus coming back to life was inconceivable. In fact, the earliest accounts of their discovery of the empty grave make it clear that they were terrified and shocked.
In my adult life, I have often given lip service to believing in Jesus’ resurrection, but have lived as a practical atheist, stuck in a quagmire of doubt and darkness. It is only in recent years that I have truly begun to believe again. Instead of talking about theory and research (which I’m lousy at anyways), I’ll do what makes the most sense to me – tell a story.
Every Saturday morning, I go for my outside run. Since September, I have taken the same route. I run all the way to the Assiniboine River and then along the river to the Forks and back. It’s a lovely run and when the skating trail was open, I got to run on the river itself, enjoying the unique snow huts and all the people taking in this Winnipeg treasure.
There is a tiny park along the way called the “Canora Green”, leading to the river. One time I stopped there to catch my breath and said a few prayers. Prayer doesn’t always “feel” real, but that time it did. I had a sudden sense of God being there with me in the quiet morning air. Ever since then, I have made it a habit to pray for a few minutes as I look out on the river.
No matter what the week has been like, difficult or easy, I find myself thanking God for being with me in all the ups and downs. Gifts of encouragement, friends who pray for and with me and who point me to hope when I don’t see any. Gifts that come in the form of books, faith engendering music, prayer that restores faith, laughter despite myself. The biggest gift is that I keep finding answers to the question of this blog!
Mostly I give thanks again and again that God saw me through situations that I couldn’t figure out myself. Our dear friend Paul always ends his emails with the signature “Under a ton of mercy”, and this is what I mean. God knows me infinitely better than I know myself, and has always found a way to rescue this gal who gets lost on a regular basis! That’s what I call mercy.
I always end up saying some prayers for those I know who are suffering, either from cancer or other illness or who have personal problems that seem too large.
Lately, I have begun to imagine this stop during the week when I am going through challenges. “God, I know somehow I will be back at the river thanking you on Saturday, so help me believe in your resurrecting power.” A tiny shift in attention, maybe, but it changes everything.
Churches have a tradition on Easter morning of a call and answer. The minister calls out, “Christ is risen,” and everyone answers, “Christ is risen indeed.” I can trust that the “indeed” can continue to happen. The scripture says that God’s mercies are “new every morning”. I experience this as a trustable gift given to me over and over despite my own failings and mistakes, from a good parent who keeps giving good things even to this wayward child. Risen indeed.
“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” –Lamentations 3:22-23