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  • Seasons of the Spirit: Practicing Resurrection

    We are in the season of Eastertide—the fifty days between Easter Sunday and Pentecost. In the wisdom of the liturgical calendar, Easter does not just last for one day. Instead, it is an entire season. The resurrected life takes time to grasp, to begin to understand, to bring more fully into our conscious being, and to offer us insight into living with joy. Joy has been defined as “happiness that does not depend upon circumstances for its expression.” The unspeakable joy of Eastertide is meant to infuse our whole beings. But we may need time to catch our breath, to find our words, to discover our part, and to claim our courage as we dare to acknowledge that new life is showing itself to us in ways that we at times hardly recognize.

    W. H. Auden once referred to our daily life as Christians as having a discipline of “practicing the scales of rejoicing”. For any of us who have played a musical instrument or studied voice, we know the importance of practicing our scales in order to become more adept at using our instruments and understanding music in all its nuances and fullness. But most of us do not find scales the most exciting time of our practice. We just want to play or sing what we want when we want it. Unfortunately that does not lead us to skill or virtuosity in the musical realm.

    In Eastertide, practicing the scales of rejoicing may stretch us. It may include taking time at the end of each day to remember new things that were part of our experience that day for which we are grateful, rather than spending our time rehearsing all the things that were troublesome or didn’t go as we planned. It may include replacing the habit of expanding our doubts with a practice of remembering the way trusting and believing in someone or some outcome actually brought about a different reality. We are being called to “practice resurrection.”

    What an amazing world of possibility God invites us into! As the words to a favorite Easter hymn, “Now The Green Blade Rises” puts it:

    When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
    Christ’s warm touch can call us back to life again.
    Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been
    Love is come again, like wheat that rises green.”

    Easter reminds us to replace our, “I doubt it” attitudes with attitudes of hope and possibility. And we as Christians are called to witness to each other with our own resurrection stories where God comes to us in the darkest nights, the most abandoned places, the most desperate of situations, and embraces us with a Love that gives us new hope and leads us to a new world we would have never previously even imagined. God works wonders. In this Eastertide may we be open to receive this wondrous love and amazing grace, recognizing that as we have been blessed so we can be blessings in God’s ever-transforming world.

    —Rev. Dr. Ken Orth, Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction Affiliate, First Congregational Church of Winchester (UCC), and Healing Worship Minister, Old South Church in Boston (UCC)