Wednesday, June 18, 2014

practice resurrection

"Practice resurrection" was a motto I learned in Haiti. It was an integral part of the orphanage St. Joseph's Home for Boys in Port-au-Prince. The boys and their leaders lived this motto every day. Rising early in the morning for prayer they would recite their core scripture: "You can do anything in Christ who strengthens you" [Philippians 4:13].

The devastating earthquake in Haiti destroyed St. Joseph's building and a few months later, I received in my inbox an email with a picture of a plant growing out of the rubble.

Resilience, the email said.

Reminding us as well as them to practice resurrection.

I love this motto: practice resurrection. It's core to my belief in God, in Jesus Christ, in forgiveness, hope, and new life. But, no matter how much I like the idea of and practicing resurrection is hard work.

In order to practice resurrection, you have to live through death. Death of a life, destruction of a building, the end of a worthy ministry or relationship.

In order to practice resurrection, we have to experience great loss. Something taken away from us. A dream, a person, our control.

My friend Kate recently helped me put an image to this feeling. It's like a harrow tearing through soil.

A harrow - the garden tool with a heavy frame and teeth. A harrow - with the sole purpose of breaking up what exists. Cutting roots. Turning soil over, bringing what was on the bottom to the top.

The verb "harrow" can be used to describe our emotions during a time of loss and grief. It means distress, torment, grieve, pain, hurt...

The process of loss is harrowing. The darkness, the pain, the deep sadness is brought to the forefront. The harrowing makes a mess within ourselves, mixing the old with the new. Creating ugly chaos. And yet, in the garden, pulling up soil creates a sense of relief. A sense of hope. Harrowing gets things out of the way for us to prioritize and make room for what what is new.

Perhaps what is most difficult in practicing resurrection is not the loss.

Rather, it's trusting that something new will come.

During our Good Friday service at church, the sanctuary grew gradually darker as we retold the story of Jesus' suffering and death. At one point, all the candles were extinguished and we sat in darkness together. I could tell that some of us wanted to stay in the dark. There is a familiarity there. We've been there before. It's not pleasant, but it's real. There are things to be learned in the darkness.

And yet, there was new light to come. With a clang of the cymbals a new candle was lit. A small child sitting on the back row let out a gasp, "Whoa!" Not expecting the light to come and amazed at how it lit the room.

Whoa is right, little one. The promise in practicing resurrection is that the light WILL come. New life will emerge out of darkness. That is the promise and truth of our faith.

As I am harrowed by the changes in my ministry at an organizational level and also in peoples' very lives...I find myself searching for the light. Not emerging from darkness prematurely, but seeking and hoping and praying for the new life that will come from this change.

I'm trusting in the process and in the promise that new life will come. I'm living my motto:
practice resurrection.

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