Chip’s Message for April, 2012

If you are looking forward to Easter after studying the last 24 hours of Jesus’ life, then you are not alone. Over and over, I have heard people say how heavy our study feels, how dark those last hours were. Preaching on it has felt that way as well. But, honestly, it probably should. What Jesus went through in those 24 hours goes way beyond tips for better living or seven secrets to a better life or how to live your best life now. What Jesus went through was awful and terrifying and painful and so much more. To walk his path, simply as readers, is to face the tragedy of the cross in an honest way, and it helps us understand what makes resurrection such good news. This journey should lead us to want resurrection, for him and then for us.

Yet, that is the hard part about the end of the story, at least as we encounter resurrection in Mark. The first visitors to the tomb find it empty and then turn and run in fear. It is probably the most honest experience of the empty tomb there is. No one expects life. No one expects the tomb to be empty. It is so radically different, that like those first women, we run in fear rather than rejoice. Resurrection places before us the big question: do we really want what God offers? Those first disciples who found the empty tomb suggest that the answer is no. But, the beauty of God and God’s plan is that God offers new life whether we are ready for it or not. When we aren’t, God offers it anyway. When we are, God brings healing and wholeness to our lives and leads us to connect more deeply with God, one another and the world.

The Gospel of Mark reminds me over and over that living into the resurrection is not always welcomed, but it is always offered. It invites us to examine what we expect and let God surprise us with a different way of life. That is my hope as Easter’s good news finally arrives this year. That we will welcome a different way of life, the new life offered in Jesus Christ, as we encounter the empty tomb again.

All this talk of new life reminds me that we are living into a number of changes in our church, not the least of which is changes in our office, changes in personnel in the office and preschool, changes with the arrival of new members. I continue to think about the question I asked our session and deacons: How is God preparing us to go to the next level of what God wants us to do? As we live through change and continue our vibrant ministry together, I’d like to invite you to talk about anything you see going on in the church that seems different from the way things have been done before. If you have ideas or concerns, I hope you will share them with me. I began my ministry among you by inviting you into a dialogue about who we are and where we are going. I believe God has called us together to live the hope we share in Jesus Christ, and I look forward to how we continue to build strong relationships together to live the good news of the empty tomb for the world.