Tuesday Grace Letter:5

April 22, 2014

Kara, the writer behind the Mundane Faithfulness blog, has invited other bloggers to participate in a practice of grace- writing letters every week, each letter with its own focus. I do not know Kara. We live in the same city and some of my friends and family know her, but I have only followed her story in bits and pieces as others have posted her blog posts to their Facebook pages. Kara’s story is heart-rending and powerful and in the midst of her own suffering, she gives people a glimpse of Christ in her, the hope of glory. Today’s assignment is to write a letter of grace about Resurrection.

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Dear Resurrection,

One of my favorite authors is a farmer named Wendell Berry. A prolific writer, he spans several genres of work, from essays on politics and society, to poetry, to fiction. Much of what he writes speaks a deep truth about things and while not explicitly about the Church, has vast implications for Christians.

The very first time I met Wendell was through one of his well-known poems called Manifesto: The Mad Farmer’s Liberation Front. Here is an excerpt from that poem:

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it…

…Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection. 

That last line. That very last line jumped at me when I read it, grabbing up handful of my heart and latching on for life. Practice resurrection. Moving… and real… and speaking in two words the very nature of how resurrection plants itself inside of us and grows, if we would allow it.

Easter has long been a favorite celebration of mine. I remember, when growing up, the big Easter service my church held downtown at a big auditorium. The Easter choir was twice the normal size and it was the one time every year when I got to sing in it with the adults. We would process into the vast concert hall, the smell of white lilies hanging in the air, and stand, singing in front of a congregation. My then high soprano voice and short stature put me up front right next to an elderly woman named Marian who would fall asleep on my shoulder during the sermon.

My family would go out to lunch and sometimes a big dressed up bunny would come by doling out whatever characters dole out. But there was always something powerful about Easter for me. The wonder and mystery and breath-stealing awe of what the day meant. I remember it from an early age. Resurrection mattered.

As I grew up, resurrection took on deeper and deeper meanings. It moved from simply being an event that happened to Jesus… to being an event that changed all of human history… to being a lifelong gift of hope… to being a very real thing that happens daily… to being a practice. The gift of practicing resurrection.

Because in the daily difficulty of life it can be hard to see that God is about resurrecting all things. The promise of life for us is not simply a “pie in the sky, sweet by and by” promise. It is not simply for a future. It is not simply about an afterlife. It is about life here and now and in the present and in the moment. God is about restoring and resurrecting every single minute.

And that is why we can practice resurrection. Practice seeing and knowing and experiencing and believing in the ongoing work of God in our lives. And we need to practice resurrection because sometimes everything feels so deathly in life. So hopeless, so boring, so lifeless. The discipline of practicing resurrection makes the daily of life possible. It doesn’t deny pain, it doesn’t ignore loss, it doesn’t pretend difficulty is non-existent. Instead practicing resurrection embraces the struggle for what it is, even when we hate it, because in order for resurrection to happen, death has to happen too.

And that’s not easy. Jesus said that a kernel of grain must die in order for life to happen. Sounds so easy. It’s not. Especially when that sort of dying is daily. But it’s the only way we can practice resurrection. God, in his grace, helps us lose the things that we cling to, so that we might, like the grain, be broken open and spilled out and new life might happen to and in us.

Practicing resurrection then becomes a discipline because in time, we learn that it is the only way to living life to the fullest, the type of life Jesus said he wanted to give us. It doesn’t make sense, and sometimes I don’t like it, but it has become the only way I can live with gratitude, secure in the grace of a God who knows what he is doing even if I do not get it.

The resurrection of Jesus makes all this possible. Because if Jesus isn’t alive then there is no point. There is no point to any of this. There is no point to experiencing the life of a kernel of grain- broken, spilled, living again, broken, spilled, living again. Practicing resurrection only makes sense in light of the Resurrection. And without Jesus’ life, we cannot fathom enduring some of the dark things that happen to us and in us in that process.

And so, Resurrection, thank you… thank you for being the final word of Jesus. That the deathly nature of life is not the end. That the deathly nature of everyday living is not everything there is. That the gospel does not simply end with a cross but with the words of my dear theology professor in seminary, “The gospel is this: That the God of Israel has raised his servant, Christ Jesus, from the dead.” Without that, nothing matters. There is nothing worth living for. There is nothing worth practicing. Without that, everything falls apart. The Resurrection holds us together. The Resurrection of Jesus holds us.

Love, Me

 

To read more grace letters, visit here.

4 Responses to “Tuesday Grace Letter:5”

  1. Darnly said

    Yes…practice the Resurrection. Oh that we would remind ourselves of that Resurrection and its power that is available for us. Thanks for sharing.

  2. wrenlk said

    Thanks for reading, Darnly!

  3. lisa said

    beautiful reminder! thank you for your heart and your words. Want to carry this resurrection with me as I go out each day!

  4. wrenlk said

    I do too, Lisa! It can be hard to carry each day, but I think it is so important for us to try and to encourage others along the way! Thanks for reading!

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