Monday Matters (April 19, 2021)

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.

-Job 19:25

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain…But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.

-I Corinthians 15:12-14, 20-22

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

-Colossians 3:1,2

The resurrection completes the inauguration of God’s kingdom. . . . It is the decisive event demonstrating that God’s kingdom really has been launched on earth as it is in heaven. The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.

 -N. T. Wright

It is such a letdown to rise from the dead and have your friends not recognize you.
-Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith

Ordinary Resurrection

Each year as we make our way through the Easter season, I’m reminded of a powerful book by Jonathan Kozol, educator and advocate for children, especially children who have been pushed to the margins, children who contend with what he calls savage inequalities. The book I have in mind is entitled Ordinary Resurrections. It describes Dr. Kozol’s relationship with a group of children, students who attended school in one of the poorest parts of the Bronx and also those who participated in an after-school program at a local Episcopal Church (St. Ann’s). It’s a loving account of his relationship with these young people, and a hopeful testimony to their resilience.

It’s from this book that I first learned of the etymology of the word resurrection. It really means to stand again, which strikes me as a beautiful way to think about this season.

As we move through this season (It’s more than just one day), we certainly focus on the events of the first Easter morning which brought the amazing news that Jesus, Lord of the dance had indeed been knocked down but he leapt up high. He stood again after confronting the worst that his world could dish out. But Jonathan Kozol reminded me that stories of resurrection unfold in all kinds of places.

For those of us in the Christian tradition, we hear the word that because Christ has been raised, we also can be raised. As we reflect on what the past year has brought to us, to our individual lives, to our church, to our nation, we can safely say that we have been knocked down. The promise of the Easter season is that by grace, we can stand again. The longings and losses of the past year are not the final word.

So maybe you feel like you have been knocked down. Maybe your loved ones are having that experience. If that’s the case, imagine ordinary resurrections. Embrace the Easter promise that we can start again. We can stand again.

Maybe your faith has been knocked down, by the inexplicable pain of the world, or the failures of the church, or the appropriation of Jesus’ teaching for political advantage. If that’s the case, imagine ordinary resurrections. What would that look like in the course of your spiritual journey?

Maybe your church feels like it’s been knocked down. Many churches lived on the edge prior to pandemic. The challenges of the past year only deepened the anxiety. If that’s the case, imagine ordinary resurrections. What would that look like for your faith community?

Maybe you live in a community that has been particularly hard hit, knocked down in one way or another. Recent waves of gun violence and racial division provide examples of this. If that’s the case, imagine ordinary resurrections. That may not be easy to do. But Jonathan Kozol reminds us that they can happen, through amazing grace (the title of another of his books). Perhaps the first step is simply believing it’s possible.

-Jay Sidebotham

RenewalWorks has partnered with The Episcopal Church to transform RenewalWorks for Me into My Way of Love, Powered by RenewalWorks.

Using baseline data from hundreds of churches and thousands of Christians who have worked with RenewalWorks, your responses to a few simple questions will help the system identify broad characteristics of your spiritual life, and then assign you a plan of action.

After reading your initial results, you can go further by signing up for eight weeks of customized emails with tips, reminders and suggestions for daily spiritual practices. Following a four-part routine (Warm Up – Practice – Coach’s Tip – Stretch), these weekly emails support your unique spiritual journey and provide just the right suggestions for you to grow.

My Way of Love is free, a gift from Forward Movement and The Episcopal Church, offered in the confidence that as individual Christians grow in spiritual health, our congregations and dioceses will also be healthier-spiritually speaking.

Learn more and sign up for My Way of Love here.

In a recent episode of the video series  Leading Forward: Conversations on Discipleship and Growth, Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry speaks with the Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement. The two discuss My Way of Love and the connection between discipleship and the spiritual practices for Jesus-centered life.

“Answering the survey questions helps the coach to guide you in real spiritual growth based on experience,” said Bishop Curry, “RenewalWorks and [Forward Movement] have been working on this for a while, but My Way of Love is based on that experience and the experience of roughly 2000 years of Christian history, plus a couple more thousand years of Jewish history and the history of other people of faith.” Watch the video here.

Leading Forward -- Conversation with Bishop Michael Curry about My Way of Love
Leading Forward — Conversation with Bishop Michael Curry about My Way of Love

If you’ve already done RenewalWorks for Me, you can still participate in My Way of Love and experience the wisdom that has been infused by this addition of The Way of Love, Practices for Jesus-Centered Life.