The Day After
Here we are, the day after Easter, when Christians celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead and the new life that we have in Him. But what do we do when life is still hard; when everything didn’t “come up roses?” I’m sure you could tabulate your own list, but this is only a glimpse of what people shared with me this past week:
- Battling chronic disease and received another new diagnosis
- Still hurting in their marriage relationship
- Estranged from their children and grandchildren
- The love of their life just died
- Struggling with anxiety, fear, and depression
- Needing affordable housing/don’t have enough money to get by or food to feed their families
- Growing older and bodies not doing what they want them to
- Family members don’t know what they’re going to do after High School or College, or at age 30, 40, 50, 60 …
- Facing the hurt caused by church people — in the Name of Jesus
- Continued horror in Ukraine and in many other countries, where the news stories seem like “old news” to some
Many of us, like Mary Magdalene, are carrying the wounds and scars of the past- things that we have done or things that have been done to us and may be asking, “So, what now?”
Let’s consider what “new life” might look like for us when our circumstances haven’t changed.
New life in Christ is full of hope- in the already and not yet. Being Easter People means moving forward with faith and trust, even in the not knowing…even when the reality of life/our circumstances hasn’t changed. Being Easter people means embracing the mystery of our faith- Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.
A new life in Christ helps us to embrace God’s promise to all of us through the prophet Isaiah:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine.… Behold, I am doing a new thing, now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert…to give drink to my people. (From Isaiah 42-44)
Oh, my friends, are you willing to see it? God wants to make all things new, through Jesus Christ our Lord. That doesn’t mean that everything will magically be “rainbows and unicorns,” but it does mean that we are not alone as we experience challenges in the wildernesses and dry desert seasons of our lives.
Inspiration in Hard Times
This week, a colleague sent me an image of her latest creation, a vintage art form called “slow stitch” or “meditative stitchery.” It is exquisite! She explained: “One uses up the smallest scraps and leftover threads and bits of material to create. It is artwork from a time when things were so hard. When folks had nothing, but women wanted to somehow celebrate the beauty of their world. The entire project put me in mind of folks who are in a lot worse place than me.”
She continued, “It is signed Lucy, giving the honor of creating to my great granny who was/is a huge inspiration for me. A cowgirl. A rancher. Lucy Fagan was severely beaten by her cowboy husband. She kicked him off her land and went all the way to the Texas State Legislature in 1898 for a divorce. The Catholic Church shunned her, but she raised her two girls in the faith anyway. She ranched about 4,ooo acres on the San Antonio River on her own until the girls married. She had true grit.”
Lucy Fagan’s life is an example for all of us. She was literally and figuratively beaten and knocked down — carrying emotional and physical scars in her body, yet she chose to activate her faith, to embrace hope and bring God’s love and beauty into the world in ways that she could make a difference — in ranching the land, raising her kids in the faith, and still finding beauty in the world around her.
And then, there’s Mary Magdelene: There she was at the tomb — in the throes of grief and loss; her sorrow over her friend and Savior’s death must have been immense, compounded by the horror of finding his body missing. When she sees Jesus, she doesn’t recognize Him, but oh, she does when He speaks her name! “MARY.” What a holy moment that must have been!
Jan Richardson, in her book, In Wisdom’s Path says:
“Standing before Jesus, Mary Magdalene is a wounded woman. Marked by her loss and grief, she still carries the scars of the wounds that Jesus had healed long ago. Yet Jesus knows it is time for Mary to let go, to allow the form of their relationship to change, and to tell the story of what she has seen.
In choosing to leave the garden and proclaim what has happened, Mary begins to walk out her wounds. Many of us carry injuries we bear no responsibility for receiving. We carry wounds, too, that bear the mark of our own hand, whether intentional or unintentional. Regardless of the source of the wounds, we do have a responsibility to seek their healing. Our wounds may long plague us, but God beckons us to cease to cling to them. There comes a time when we must choose whether to remain weeping at the tomb or let go and tell what we have seen.”
When we name our grief, loss, sorrow, and pain- when we acknowledge the pain and do the work, we keep moving forward in faith. We don’t hold on to our wounds and identify as Victim. Instead, we continue to allow Jesus to heal us as we move forward in hope. That’s what I believe it means to “walk out our wounds;” new life in Christ, through the ways we allow the Lord to create beauty out of our own scraps.
Some questions to ponder this week:
What wounds from the past are weighing you down?
Take some time to name them. How is Jesus encouraging you to let go of them- putting your trust more deeply in HIM? (Sometimes that is quite a lengthy process- but with His help, you can do the hard work)!
How can you live into the love and light of Christ–to nurture your relationship with Him–in your own way?
Healing, and a transformed, new life comes through Jesus; getting to know Him more personally and growing in our dependence on HIM. (That too takes work and intentionality).
How is God calling you to truly see the death and dying in your own lives, your community, and our world?
(That may mean naming the scraps—admitting what you need His help with in the torn and beaten places in our lives, and then like Mary, to be a witness for how Jesus has gotten you through/what Jesus has done in your life).
Because Jesus was the Incarnation of God- Emmanuel, God with us- the embodiment of God’s Love in the flesh- and because God raised Jesus from the dead, we have access to new life—full of love, light, and hope- even in the midst of pain and suffering, grief, and loss. That, my friends, feels like good news on this Day After.
If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5: 17-19 (ESV)