Lenten Devotional - Conclusion

Ere yet the dawn hath filled the skies 

Behold, my Savior Christ arise, 

He chaseth from us sin and night 

And brings us joy and life and light. 

Hallelujah...

- From “Christ, Our Champion,” a German hymn, by J. Heermann, 1630

We’ve been walking with Jesus on his journey to the cross.   We remembered his anointing, his Last Supper, as he pledged his body and blood into a new covenant for the forgiveness of sins.  We remembered his prayer in Gethsemane, his betrayal and arrest, his trials and tortures, his death at Golgotha.  

We witnessed his divine light extinguished on a cross.  

But on the third day, Jesus’ friends arrived at his tomb and were told, “He isn’t here.  He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.”  It happened just like he said!  He isn’t here.  You won’t find Jesus among the dead.  Two thousand years ago and for all of eternity, Christ has risen!

But as Christians, we don’t just remember something we believe happened two thousand years ago.  

We celebrate the Christ who is still making the blind see and the lame walk.  We celebrate the Christ who is still curing lepers and making the deaf hear.  We celebrate the Christ who is still raising the dead and who is still preaching good news to the poor.  We celebrate the Christ who is still bringing dead things back to life.   Even you.  Even me.

From ancient times, the peacock feather has been a symbol of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Early Christians would put these over their tombs and on their catacombs during the Roman persecution as a symbol that they were Christians.  

Why peacock feathers, you say?  Well, that’s because every year, peacocks shed their feathers.  And it’s uncomfortable for the peacock, even painful sometimes.  But the new feathers that grow in place of the old ones are always brighter and more beautiful and more colorful than the ones they lost before.

God is not making all new things.  God is making all things new.  

Sometimes we imagine that Christ’s death has simply wiped our slates clean, that it has undone all we’ve done, that we got some sort of real-life mulligan, that we have some cosmic do-over that allows to start over as if none of it ever happened.

Artwork by Meagan Moore Jensen

Artwork by Meagan Moore Jensen

But that’s not entirely how this works.  There is so much more going on.  Yes, Christ’s death and resurrection wipes our slates clean.  But sin that happened still happened.  What’s done is still done.  Resurrection doesn't always erase the scars from wounds in the past.  But...but Christ comes in and redeems them.  He reclaims them.  He uses our scars, he uses that painful process of shedding old feathers and growing new ones, for his best purposes.  The chapters we want to erase are still written; they are still part of our stories, but they no longer define us.  God does.  And he can use all our chapters, yes even those chapters, for his good in the world if we'll hand them over to him. 

God is not making all new things.  God is making all things new.  

That’s the promise of the resurrection.  He has entered our white-washed tombs, formerly filled with dead men's bones, and left them echoing empty.  And so we never have to fear the hard seasons or the things we lose in this life, because what we have to gain in Christ is brighter and more beautiful and more colorful than anything we could have imagined.  

And so after we pledge our lives to him, after we shed our grave clothes and our fig leaves, we are told at baptism, "Rise to new life!"  because Christ has risen...He has risen indeed.

Amen?

Pastor Brynn Harrington