I belong to a national organization that focuses on weight loss. In all reality, weight loss can only come with a change in lifestyle and behavior. The program acts as a guide towards developing new, healthier, life giving habits. Weekly meetings offer inspiration and group support. The leader raised the following question at a recent meeting: “What are some of the positives about belonging to […name of program…]” A group member excitedly answered, “You get to start fresh every week.” She was right. Each week begins as if nothing before it mattered. Nothing. Not the extra glass of wine on Saturday night, not the restaurant’s complimentary basket of chips and salsa, not the birthday cake or the ice cream or the missed work out. Nothing before it mattered. The point is to move on, engaging in just one new habit until it becomes part of your routine. As time goes on, you choose another habit, then another, until one day you look back and realize you have been transformed. Not only do you look different, you feel different. It’s like life has taken on a whole new perspective. Something happened along the way…something that gave you a fresh, new start.
As most of us have, I experienced a particularly difficult situation several years ago. I received a card from a friend that assured me I would be fine when I came out on the other side of my metamorphosis. Yup, the same thing cocoons and butterflies do as they pass through the stages of life and, finally, something beautiful emerges. Mind you, that change doesn’t come without significant struggle! If you have ever watched a butterfly wrestle it’s way out of a cocoon, you know it takes a lot of persistence and groaning. But, the struggle leads to a fresh, new start.
I tried to find a definition for the word “resurrection”. Most online sources try to put “the” before it, making it an event. Which, in all reality, is how we typically view the word. It has to do with Jesus dying and coming back to life – a difficult concept to wrap one’s brain around, but one that is central to the mystery of the Christian faith. After his persecution and death, the disciples found themselves lost and afraid. Think about Mary Magdalene as she wakes the morning after the Sabbath and goes to the tomb to mourn. Maybe she wanted to feel his presence close to her; to meditate at the resting spot of her dear, dear friend; or to simply have a quiet moment of personal anguish. Many of us have visited the grave of a loved one and can relate to Mary’s desires to spend time in the place where she thought she might find a fragment of solace in the midst of an unimaginable situation. Scripture tells us she wept when she saw the tomb was empty. Talk about being kicked when you’re already down! First, she saw him murdered in a heinous, despicable way. And now this! Grave robbers took this last morsel of comfort away from her.
But, something utterly confounding happened! He was there and he was alive. She didn’t recognize him until he spoke. Then, she saw past his new form…his new life…and knew that this was him. She, too, was changed.
Resurrection comes from the Latin word resurgere which means to rise again. It’s to bring back, to revive, or to renew; a transformation. It’s like the butterfly that let go of the cocoon holding it down so it could fly. It’s new life…a fresh, new start.
The thing is, resurrection is kind of like the weekly experience in the weigh loss program I mentioned – a fresh start without guilt. It can also be described as a renewal or revitalization following a personal metamorphosis. And, we are given opportunity to experience resurrection every time we trust the one who loves us unconditionally enough to let go of whatever is holding us back and turn toward that love. In religious circles, we call that grace. Sometimes we need to practice and form new habits and sometimes we just need to let go of old ‘stuff’. Either way, we are offered resurrection – new life – opportunity through grace every minute of every day. Resurrection…to rise again…to be revitalized…to be renewed…to be transformed…to be given a fresh, new start.
Think about the possibilities and the amazing hope we can find in resurrection.