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  • Eastertide: Practicing Resurrection


    We are in the season of Eastertide, the fifty days that stretch from Easter Sunday through Pentecost. In this season we are to be practicing the reality of the new life to which we have been called. Perhaps the prayer from the UCC Book of Worship says it best:

    “Oh God, free us from a past that we cannot change and open us to a future in which we can be changed.”

    To witness to the resurrection is to see how life has been called out of death. It is to see with new eyes how eternity puts death in perspective— it conquers death but does not abolish it.

    To practice resurrection in Eastertide is to let go of the ways we have tried to control outcomes, guarantee safety, and force our security upon what is constantly changing within and around us. It is to witness to the light of love that rises from the shadows of our broken dreams. It is to attest to the fire of hope that is kindled in the ashes of our unspeakable loss. It is to recognize that Hell itself could not hold Jesus, who came forth bearing his wounds, yet willing to forgive and embrace us no matter what—and to show us the way to new life through our forgiveness and release.

    In this Eastertide, dare we practice what Christ taught us—not to guard our lives but to release our lives in offering one another kindness, care, love, and support? We practice building each other up in a mutual offering of life-affirming community.

    To practice resurrection is to practice forgiveness, since none of us can live without being forgiven for our own limitations and shortcomings. As Jesus suffered the vengeance, retaliation, resentment, violence, and blame placed upon him by others, he did not return evil for evil. Instead he turned the tables and ended the chain of violent scapegoating by crying out from the cross, “Father, forgive them! They don’t know what they are doing!” To be forgiven and to then be willing to forgive is to appropriate and “take in” the resurrection.

    In Eastertide, we hear Jesus reminding us, “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it will not bring forth new fruit.” The death of our worn-out strategies gives way to the rise of new life. God rolls away the stone of our history to open the way to new life in the present moment of the here and now. We find a new awareness each morning as we rise to a new day, freed to live fully aware with eyes that see and ears that hear the glory of creation of which we are also a part.

    William Blake points us to this new Eastertide reality in his well-known poem:

    “To see the world in a grain of sand.
    And heaven in a wildflower.
    To hold infinity in the palm of your hand.
    And eternity in this hour.”

    Eastertide takes us into the mystery of the paradox of time and space, the interchangeableness of matter and energy revealed to us as witnesses: “He is risen!”

    —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)