Our Faith Action Board President, Rev. Moses Barrios (he/him/his), pastor at Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church, shares this message of resurrection for Easter!
After yet another mass shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, where we see children—where we see innocence, purity, a bright future—vanished from this earth... how does one look towards an Easter season? How does one reflect upon Jesusʻ death and resurrection with such a reality?
Surely, one can easily get stuck on lament, pain, and grief of a Good Friday – believing it is all over, that we cannot move forward from here, as though everything is going to misery, as though everything is going to hell.
And yet on the other side, it is not helpful to ignore and bypass the pain and grief of a Good Friday. It is not helpful to avoid walking through the valley of the shadow of death because without walking through such a moment, one avoids the spiritual bewilderment of grief and uncertainty, the hard and constant work of grief. One can’t truly understand resurrection without such a season like that.
You see, the point I am attempting to submit to you is that we can either deny or affirm resurrection. We deny resurrection often when we become indifferent to the loss of life, when we put money, amendment rights, individualism over collectivism, when we remain silent in the face of injustice, when we ignore the cries of the oppressed, of communities (the Black community, the Brown community, the Indigenous community, People of Color, the queer community, the migrant community) who are just simply seeking acceptance and inclusion, refuge, hope…
And yet every now and then, we affirm resurrection—when we speak up, when we stand up for justice, when we speak up for equity and inclusion, and for equality.
Another way to say this perhaps is that one can choose to have God die in one, or one can choose to have God resurrect in one.
If you notice the holy wisdom, the holy scriptures offer a language of resurrection throughout. It seems like nothing ever dies, nothing ends, nothing is lost—it is simply being made new again. Did you hear me? It is naturally evolving, it is openly transforming…
Heaven and earth is being made new
Humanity is being made new
All creation seems to be moving in this direction of advancement, toward this progress of the fullness of Godʻs unfolding healing and reconciliation for the world.
Did you hear me?
I realize that the daily deaths that we experience in our lives, that we see on the news, make it very difficult to see the resurrection. Because death pushes back, when resurrection moves forward, death seems to push back and undoes the progress – but what if the undoing is part of the remaking, as Father Richard Rohr would assert.
I know some of this may sound unfamiliar to many of us because progress and success in our American and Western world perspective and culture looks like a linear line trending upward. We have our individualistic culture to thank for that – by considering ourselves independent and self-contained, by placing our personal profit and success, we reject collectivism, we dismiss group success and achievement, we refuse to be interconnected, entwined with people around us.
In my Mayan and Latino/-e/-x culture, group success matters, being interconnected with one another is meaningful, we value group over individual, and to realize that resurrection is merely another word for change, positive change I’d say, that is generally not seen in the short-term, but in the long-term.
Still, how does one respond to daily deaths, to such things as mass shootings? Well, it all begins with how we see the world. It begins with how you see the Divine, the Creator, God. Your view of the Divine will affect your view of humanity and creation. Does one respond with scarcity or with abundance?
If this world is truly being healed, reconciled, being made new, then should we not admit to the reality of uncertainty, of pain that comes with death, evil, mass shootings, racism, homophobia, and the reality of constant work that will never stop?
Should we not choose to play with our children, to spend time, to have a date night with our partner or spouse, to spend quality time with our friends, to serve faithfully in our faith communities, even though we know that there are dozens of things that need our time and attention, but yet we choose to play, we choose to love, we choose to care and to serve.
And when we stop judging others because we realize that we too have shortcomings, and when we stop trying to win every argument because there is more to the story of that individual, then we can begin to trust, to gain courage and confidence in the message of the triune God of the world – that the message we have is good enough, powerful enough, beautiful enough, wide enough, deep enough, that it is generous enough, that it is abundant for all, that there is room for everyone…
Then we can go out into the world to be witnesses of that Gospel. Now that sounds like good news—nothing dies, everything is being made new again!
And isn’t that so for Faith Action? Isn’t that so for the work that is currently happening right now among your Faith Action Board? Nothing dies. It is just being made new again.
So may we look at this season – friends, partners – as a season of not death, but as a season of everything being made new again.
Word of God. Word of Life.
Thanks be to God.