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Following Jesus

Easter As Rejuvenation: To Die and Rise Again

April 16, 2019 by

Easter has always been a positive force for me; the triumph of light over darkness, life over death, hope over despair, love over hate. And the witness of Spring’s return with these themes always uplifts and inspires.

Fittingly, Easter has a tremendous musical repertoire in many cultures. Russian Easter hymns in eight-part harmonies; soul-stirring spirituals of the American South; triumphant orchestral European pieces about the Passion and resurrection; dynamic African rhythms; the commemorative pageantry of Latin America – they all point to an all-out celebration of the rising from the dead of the Prince of Peace, a miracle beyond miracles, celebrated each and every year.

two people watching a sunset

Perhaps most amazing to me, however, is how Easter can happen every day in a very personal way. Every day we can find ourselves renewed and completely reborn from the ashes of anxiety, from the embers of slow-burning anger. Yes, in an instant we can find ourselves liberated from anything and everything evil, but not by our own doing.

To “die and rise again” implies awaking as a completely different person: clean, bright, positive, non-judging, full of joy and hope in spite of circumstances.

This Easter, let us each find hope like live coals hidden in the ashes.

Sickness, for instance, whether it’s cancer, the flu, or a broken leg, can drag us down with pain and frustration. But the resurrection dynamic can free us for a deep peace and a deep joy, plus a real sense of purpose, even if it doesn’t bring physical healing. Likewise, the loss of a loved one can cause endless suffering and confusion, but the quiet influence of resurrection power can set us back on our feet as long as we allow it into our grieving hearts.

Recently, both my youngest sister and the wife of a close friend were diagnosed with stage four cancer. This experience forced me to have one foot in the next world in solidarity with my fellow travelers, and drove me towards the hope of the resurrection. Although it came through pain, it was – and is – a profoundly liberating feeling.

So far, 2019 has brought more of the same that every year seems to bring: wars, pestilence, family strife, and deep unhappiness everywhere. The world seems stuck in the Old Testament with its violence, hypocrisy and betrayal; cruelty has just become more sophisticated, and environmental problems have become global rather than local.

Only Easter can change this vicious cycle, the glad Spirit of resurrection reviving our hearts and creating triumphant peacemakers out of the war-mongers that we are, responsible stewards out of sloppy polluters, family men out of absentee “sugar dads.”

So this year, this Easter, let us each find hope like live coals hidden in the ashes. To paraphrase Silesius’ Christmas proclamation – it does us no good that Jesus rises from the dead if he does not also rise in our hearts.

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About the author

Simon Mercer

Simon Mercer

Simon Mercer is a free-thinking Anabaptist, would-be poet who lives at the Maple Ridge Bruderhof.

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