Easter Letter 2024

Easter Letter 2024

15. March 2024
 
“…According to God’s great mercy, God has caused us to be born again
to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading….”

 – 1 Peter 1:3-4

Beloved, 

Lenten devotions this year have had us wallow, if you will – intentionally – in existence’s shadow sides, where one cannot deny the brokenness in our own lives and in the world. (For that reason, it may have seemed like a long, hard 40 day slog!) 

Lifting up our deep valleys, the hope is, we can more and more recognize and trust God – even in our persistent troubles, egregious misdeeds and expansive imperfection. …In our various wildernesses, to use the apt biblical metaphor.

I am reminded of Marilyn Robinson’s passage from the novel Gilead: “That is how life goes – we send our children into the wilderness. Some of them on the day they are born, it seems, for all the help we can give them. Some of them seem to be a kind of wilderness unto themselves. But there must be angels there, too, and springs of water. Even that wilderness, the very habitation of jackals, is the Lord’s.”

The wilderness is real, friends. No amount of “spiritualizing” can reduce it to a mirage or make it go away. In fact, our attempts at its denial most often give it more sinister power. (It’s the things about ourselves that we cannot accept that become our greatest bondage.)  

But our wilderness is never the end of God’s story. Therefore, neither is it our ending. We are a Good Friday people, but there are no dead ends for an Easter God. 

God, with us in the wilderness, never leaves us there. God’s ending is a Promised Land; God’s wholeness is always an answer to human brokenness; resurrection is God’s response to crucifixion. 

“Nice theological argument and religious metaphor,” you might be thinking, “but what does this really mean? And does it make a difference?”  

“Before Easter,” afraid, ashamed of our failures – caught in God’s garden with our pants down and the half-eaten, forbidden fruit in our hand just as God calls our name! – we try either to be perfect or to hide. Those are our default reactions, our go-to self-reliance.  

Neither works well and both end up alienating us – making God feel distant and putting a wedge between us and other people. Perfection or pretending end up also separating us from our true selves. 

At Easter, God shows how we humans can have whole and holy lives inclusive of our brokenness. Lives that embrace all our “fragmentation” and sin! Easter reveals, dear church, how wholeness includes our brokenness. How God can lay out all our shattered pieces next to God’s integrity and find they graciously still “match.”   Because God’s integrity is unending and all-powerful love.  

This revelation allows a radical change of tack – replacing our doomed self-reliance with a trust in God that frees us to be really human, warts and all! Freedom is possible because even the most broken parts in us and our world “fit in” to God’s love.  

God sees you as you are – completely, down to the “most shameful” parts – and still loves you.  

When Easter convinces you that you don’t have to justify or save yourself, God’s no longer a threat. Other humans aren’t your enemies. Healing is seeing your brokenness as a resource for living your life rather than the reason you have to pretend you are someone who you are not.  

Suddenly, you have all the energy you had previously dedicated to “self-improvement” and hiding your failures… you have all that power for living fully as yourself.  

Thanks be to God! Happy Easter, church,