Life, Death, and Resurrection is a good summation of what Christianity is about. There are other things that you could say it is about too – Good News, Service, Jesus, Accompaniment, Shalom, etc. But are those things really all that different from the message of Life, Death, and Resurrection? I don’t think so. Within Life, Death, and Resurrection is Good News, Accompaniment, service, Jesus, and Shalom.
I think the challenge we face is that so often we think that Life, Death, and Resurrection are only about literal life, death, and resurrection. I think we miss so much when that is the case. We miss the blessing of life, death, and resurrection in our lives, our congregations, and our communities. Life, death, and resurrection is so much more than just the life life cycle of the physical body.
Each day we have the opportunity to examine our lives, to ask what needs to die so that resurrection can take place. A scary part of this is that while we would prefer to control what resurrection looks like, we don’t control it. A colleague of mine recently said resurrection is God’s work, we can only get in the way of it. So true. If we refuse to let things die in us, then resurrection cannot take place. In order for resurrection to take place, death has to happen first.
But this is true beyond our individual experiences too. Every congregation should experience life, death, and resurrection. It can be scary for people. Churches have traditions, expectations, beliefs, and habits in their corporate culture and history. Intentionally asking the question of what needs to die so that resurrection can take place here is being very vulnerable. A colleague once said that many congregations will hold off on the death part because they become comfortable with dying. In dying congregations, people can feel needed and they are familiar with everyone and everything. But we aren’t called to comfort. We are called to the cross and the way of the cross – dying to self. A church that refuses to move towards death is blocking God’s work – resurrection. But a church that intentionally examines it’s life and mission, discerns what needs to die within it, will experience amazing resurrection. There will be new life, creativity, energy, and purpose. Resurrection is purpose. And when a congregation has a purpose beyond just being there, look out – Jesus is at work carrying out a mission and inviting people to participate. When that happens, transformation is taking place – the kingdom of God is at hand.
Communities should also experience life, death, and resurrection. This can be much more difficult because communities are abstract in many ways. Communities don’t intentionally gather or are intentionally organized. Communities come in all shapes and sizes. But that doesn’t mean life, death, and resurrection doesn’t happen. It does. Sometimes spurred on in ways that are unpredictable. But when a community is willing to let certain things die, then it, like a church, can experience transformation and have an incredible impact on the people of that community.
I think the same is true for other groupings of people – for businesses and corporations, for states and nations, for teams, for political parties, for associations and schools. That’s because they all share something in common – living beings. All of these things have people. And regardless of how people gather, there is life.
Life, death, and resurrection. It is the way of Jesus. It is scary. And it is transformative.