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AfterWords | Pine Trees & the Paschal Mystery (Easter, April 9, 2023)

AfterWords is a series of community-contributed reflections intended to further the conversations that begin during Parish sermons.

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A 3-Minute Read
by Ren Turner

Christ has died,
Christ has risen,
Christ will come again.

Welcome to Easter.

At service, it doesn’t take long before my attention’s drawn to the scene outside the huge windows. How could you miss it? The sky was big and blue, not a cloud! Mature trees covered in young leaves, green and proud in the wind. Light upon light pouring into the Kalen Center upper room. Sweater and sunglasses weather, my favorite. Easter, and Masters Tournament Sunday for that matter, were made for days like this. Note: Previous statement (and likely others) not necessarily theologically sound.

As if the weather wasn’t great enough on its own, we all remember that wet and cold Holy Saturday when pine trees came crashing down at the Masters and parents of young kids huddled indoors pleading for sunshine and sanity. This, according to a friend of young kids, not me personally.

The service began and was beautiful. Creative, thought provoking, and taking us through the whole big story from Good Friday through the Resurrection. Listen to the podcast again and again and then one more time for good measure.

For me, a few things stood out:

Early on, Jordan pointed out that the cross is at the heart of who Jesus is. It’s the way he chooses to reign. It’s the place where he unveils how and who God is. It’s not a place where Jesus saves us from God but a place where he saves us from ourselves.

I love this from Julie Canlis: “On the cross, Christ does not do something called ‘the atonement.’ He is the atonement. In Him, our diseased human nature has been bent back to its original purpose: to be in communion with God.”

Christ has died.

The earth becomes dark. Our King gives up his spirit. The disciples are fearful, and who can blame them? Is this the end?

Then Mary comes to the tomb. It’s early morning. The stone has been moved. She’s weeping and meets the gardener. Jesus calls her by name, and she turns her embodied eyes to the risen Christ. The story is not over. The light has not gone out. Darkness and death have not overcome.

Christ has risen.

This is good news. As Jordan, quoting Brian McClaren, put it, “Death, violence, hate, money, intimidation, political power, betrayal and failure are not the last word. Christ rises alive, and these lesser things are all left like an empty rag in a tomb.”

Romans 6 says, “If we get included in Christ’s sin-conquering death, we also get included in his life-saving resurrection. We know that when Jesus was raised from the dead it was a signal of the end of death-as-the-end.”

The new creation has been born. Love is loosed. We’re invited in (right now!) to this Kingdom life. It feels right to take stock of how we should respond.

Thanks to Jordan for the question: “In light of this story, how should I live? What belongs and what doesn’t?”

Chew on that as you look toward the face of Jesus, our King, on that Cross.

Christ has died.
Christ has risen.

And remember.

Christ will come again.

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