We have been having a lot of funerals at Grace lately. The prayer we say at burial begins, “In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life we commend N to God and commit their body to the ground…” These words have been echoing in my mind and heart throughout Holy Week and the beginning of this Easter Season. In sure and certain hope… that is a robust hope! I wanted to share where that hope comes from for me.
In choosing to become human, God, in Jesus, was submitting to a human death. To think that death could permanently hold the creator of all life within its grasp, though, is far-fetched! Jesus’ death defeats death– death never stood a chance. When we are baptized, we are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection–as the gift of his life laid down becomes ours, so his resurrection life becomes ours. We possess a life that can never be taken away.
Second, resurrection is written into the very nature of the creation. We do not think about it very often, but our bodies are made up of carbon that has been around since deep time. We are made up of atoms that were once asteroids and parts of dinosaurs. In a shorter time frame, a tree that falls in a forest is called a nurse tree; it becomes in its decay and death host to other living organisms. All of nature is in a constant cycle of life and death and more life, where death is simply the gateway to more life.
Resurrection hope is also grounded in the way of love. My favorite Easter hymn proclaims, “love is come again like wheat that springeth green.” Jesus’ resurrection might not have been good news for his friends who denied and deserted him. Was the boss coming back with a vengeance as in so many ghost stories? Quite the opposite. Jesus comes back speaking words of peace and forgiveness, of reconciliation and renewal. Jesus takes the time to re-knit broken relationships, then entrusts this work of reconciliation, of making the broken whole, to his followers. Love always holds the possibility of resurrection.
Resurrection hope comes from Jesus’ victory over death, from the pattern of life from death in creation, and from the reconciliation at the heart of our faith. All death has the seeds of life embedded in it. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains a single grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Similarly, as Rev. Wendy reminded us on Sunday, all life contains the marks of the death that brought it to birth. May your hope be strengthened, beloved, and may you find resurrection all around.
In deep peace,