This Spring now in the church, we are in the midst of our ancient sacred cycle where we journey with Jesus through the season of Lent into Holy Week, passing into crucifixion and out into the resurrected life of Christ.
This is an ancient and sacred process that each year gives us the opportunity to undergo a life-giving revolution in our very being, a soul-saving transformation into greater alignment with the truth that sets us free. In reality, in our messy lives, this is never a one-and-done kind of experience, but an ongoing process of refreshment in the waters of God’s Grace.
This is part of what the death and resurrection of Christ can do for us.
Now, as we’ve been reflecting on in past few weeks, it does of course speak to literal death – our relationship with mortality and how that shapes our lives and our values. But at the same time, these stories and images of death and resurrection speak to the process and the struggles of soul growth in ourselves and our communities, they are deep images of crisis and transformation.
Our theme this Lent has been Letting Go and Letting Grow. What can we let go of, and what can we let grow for the sake of the greater flourishing of our souls and of our communities? The hardships of this pandemic have forced for many of us a kind of reckoning with our demons, both personally and in our communities, you know, as really severe inequalities have really become stark.
A lot of folks have shared with me what they wish to practice letting go of this Lent, and what you wish to let grow. There are some themes I’d like to share with you: letting go of fear, letting go of anger, letting go of judgment, letting go of some of the legacies of deep pain that people have suffered and survived. And then letting grow trust in God and trust in oneself, courage to use our gifts for greater service and to address issues of injustice, letting grow a greater sense of peace, come what may, trusting in God alone.
Very rich stuff.
Letting go and letting grow, the cycle of death and transformation in our souls, this is a process that is deeper than words, hard to fully represent.
So what we’d like to do now is offer for your contemplation, a montage of video and image and words of scripture and poetry and wisdom, all around death as a symbol for transformation …
“Very truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it will remain a single grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit” – John 12:24
By Harryette Mullen
Pulling out of the old scarred skin
(old rough thing I don’t need now
I strip off
slip out of
I slough off deadscales
flick skinflakes to the ground
peeling layers down
to vulnerable stuff
And I’m blinking off old eyelids
for a new way of seeing
By the rock I rub against
I’m going to be tender again
Christianity can help us realize that death and resurrection are part of the evolutionary path toward wholeness; letting go of isolated existence for the sake of deeper union. Something dies but something new is born—which is why the chaos of our times is, in a strange way, a sign of hope; something new is being born within. Out of chaos, a star is born. Breakdown can be break through if we recognize a new pattern of life struggling to emerge.
How can we who have “died” to the seductive power of corruption – died to sin – continue to live as if we were still in its grasp? Or do you not grasp the fact that all of us who were immersed in baptism as a way of identifying with the Anointed Jesus were symbolically immersed into his death?
What that means is that we were buried with him when we were symbolically immersed into his death so that, just as the Anointed was raised from the dead by the power and splendor of God, we also might live a new kind of life. If we have truly identified with him in a death like his, then we will certainly be united with him in rising to a new kind of life like his.
This we know: the old version of the human condition has been crucified with him, so that the life that was corruptible might be brought to an end and that we might no longer be in bondage to the seductive power of corruption.
Now that one who has died with the Anointed has been freed from the seductive power of corruption. And if we really died with the Anointed, we are confident that we will also live with him, since we know that, because the Anointed has been raised from the dead, he is not going to die again; death no longer has any power over him. When he died he died to the lure of corrupting power once and for all, but the life he lived he lives to God. In the same way you must think of yourselves as if you were dead to the appeal of corrupting power, but as alive to God in solidarity with the Anointed Jesus.