Transformation: An Easter Meditation
A Meditation offered at the White Plains Presbyterian Church on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013 during the Festival Service.
The Scripture Story this morning was told to the children (and the congregation) through the eyes of Mara, a butterfly. I wore a puppet on my arm that fluttered around as the story unfolded. When the children arrived in worship they were given craft packets containing everything needed to design an original butterfly. When the story was finished, the children were invited to finish their crafts as I spoke with the adults for a few moments. After this meditation the children came back and attached their artwork to the Table as the congregation sang “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” The butterfly installation was designed by Lynn Dunn, our Director of Christian Education.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all tell the story of the first Easter morning in different ways. But of them all, the story of Jesus’ resurrection as it is told in Mark’s gospel, and as the butterfly Mara has told it this morning, is my favorite. It is my favorite because its ending is open, inviting us to continue writing the story.
The women who go to the tomb do not yet see Jesus. Our expectations are raised when the angel says, “He is not here. He is risen. Tell all his friends you will meet him again.” Jesus has been set free, but the women have been left with uncertainty. A sealed tomb would have confirmed what they all expected. A sighting of Jesus resurrected would have confirmed their deepest longings. But an empty tomb without Jesus leaves them only to trust what they find most difficult to believe. And they run away both terrified AND amazed.
And we too are both terrified and amazed by this story. For the Jesus we have known has now been risen – he has been transformed, he is alive in a new way. And frankly, it would be easier for us I think, if he were a wholly NEW Jesus – some kind of victorious, conquering Christ who had never suffered and died; someone whom the pain of the world could no long affect; someone whose power was so absolute that it would dictate the course of events; someone who could help us forget our past, triumph over our present, and guarantee our future. But that is not the Jesus of Easter we find in the gospels. Rather, as we embrace the risen Christ, he gives us our past back, with a hope for the future such that we are alive in the present.
The Jesus of Easter is not a new Jesus,
but the same old Jesus transformed,
ready to continue spreading the way of God,
in a resistant world.
The Resurrection of Jesus does not create new life
but raises the old life again,
ready to continue courageous commitments
which now not even death can hold back.
And the Jesus of Easter is still looking for disciples – still needing disciples
to participate in the healing of that which is broken
to be bearers of hope in dark places
to live courageously the way of God in a resistant world.
The Jesus of Easter is the same Jesus who loved and wept over this world, who spoke truth to power, who showed us how to share all we have and all we are with neighbor and stranger alike.
The Jesus of Easter is the same Jesus who was crucified – the one who has been raised eternally bears the wounds of his death eternally.
I think the greatest gift that Jesus’ resurrection gives us, is that it gives us ourselves back. What we hide in fear, what we bury in our heart, who we have betrayed and the ways in which we have failed, even what we have put to death; in other words who we have been and who we have failed to be, is buried with Christ and is risen to life. It is forgiven, but not forgotten.
Like the butterflies we have used as symbols of resurrection this morning, Easter is not so much about new life as it is about life transformed: Christ’s life, our life, the life of the world, transformed.
If you want to know what that life looks like, what that life demands of us, what that life makes possible for us and for the world, come back on any other Sunday. Today, it is enough to know first, that God loves you; God loves us. That nothing can stop that love. And second, that God’s love for us, God’s love for each of you, and for me, transforms everything. So go and share this good news of God’s love, love stronger than death, love able to transform life. And come back next week as we continue this journey of faith and wonder together.