Tag Archives: resurrection

Life after the Resurrection

resurrection-tombLet every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely, ‘Christ is risen,’ but ‘I shall rise.’
~ Phillips Brooks

Jesus has beaten death with his hands pinned to a cross.  This is no arm wrestle.  His victory gives new meaning to the expression, “He won hands down.”  But, it is not just his hands but his feet that were held down– not with hands but nails.  And he did it without the assistance and intervention of God, forsaken (Matthew 27.46).  He is the undefeated even when his divinity is held back.  This is the power of God!

He is fixed to the cross, secured to suffer.  There is no wiggle room as his movements will only cause pain.  The Christ is captured; the omnipresent God is held in place and made a spectacle by creation.  They have nailed the Hands that feed them.

Afterwards, his body is taken down, placed in a tomb and they roll a stone over the One who can make rocks cry out. The juxtaposition is almost unbelievable.  It is only possible because God allows it.  The story does not fall apart because God is holding it together.

And this is not the end of it.  Wait!  There’s more.

Jesus gets up.  Jesus has been raised from the dead and though not screaming fans, this performance causes the guards to faint (Matthew 28.4).  He is the undefeated God.

He is finished with the cross and the tomb. But, he is not finished with his disciples.  He is not finished with us.  There is life and purpose after the resurrection because Jesus must now teach us how to rise.

A Prayer to the God of the Resurrection

imagesOn Friday, we watched the Teacher become the Lesson, using the cross as a chalkboard for some and a digital whiteboard for others. On Saturday, we learned that even the silence speaks for God, that the dirt cannot cover God’s mouth. Today, we remember that even the grave is a womb in the hands of God, that You carry life everywhere.

I offer this prayer of deep gratitude to You, the God of the Resurrection.

God, You are inconceivable and unbelievable. We confess that only You can turn a grave into a pulpit. Angels stand on rocks to proclaim Your message: “He is not here; he is risen!”[i] Only You can create out of the nothingness of death, declaring, “Let there be resurrection!”[ii] You could not return to the earth because Divinity is not made of dirt.

Only You can turn grave clothes into pajamas. Only You can lay Your head down in a grave[iii] when Your disciples’ heads are shaking in disbelief and Your murders’ heads are shaking with satisfaction. Because they could not keep the Good God down!

What shall we say then? We declare that nothing is impossible for You.[iv] We submit our prayers for health and healing to the grave- robbing God. We give our cares to the God who winked at death. We take our grievances, our bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness to the God who had it all but did not return it. No “evil for evil” because You had none to give.[v]

Strip us of the grave clothes of inhibition, reticence and rigidity. Release us to worship You freely. Give us the tongues of angels to proclaim Your message and to sing Your praises, to celebrate Your victory in all things and for all time.

Remind us as we worship that the presence of darkness is not stronger than the promise of Light. Train us to be death- defying even as we experience defeat. Teach our mouths to sing songs of rejoicing without social consensus or crowd participation, trusting that Your plan is foolproof.

And when we feel that You are being buried by cynicism, overwhelming doubt, social pressure and political maneuvering, let us not lock ourselves behind closed doors or return to life as we knew it before we met you. Let us not hide from the grave but run to it, seeking a risen Lord and not a dead Teacher.

Give us inconceivable and unbelievable faith as we worship. In the name of the Resurrection, Jesus the Christ, I pray. Amen.

[i] Matthew 28.6

[ii] It is my assumption that as in the creation story recorded in Genesis, God is creating out of nothingness and darkness.

[iii] This is much like his response in the ship, recorded in Matthew 8.23-27 and Mark 4.35-41.

[iv] Matthew 19.26

[v] First Peter 3.9

Your Morning Wake Up Call

“Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirements would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit.  For the mind- set of the flesh is death but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace.”

~Romans 8.1-6

We, as believers, live a life resurrected in Christ Jesus and the old way of doing, being and seeing has died.  Who we were in the world as racial beings, how we were identified and how we identified ourselves in terms of its stereotypes is no longer our reference point as it all has been buried with Christ.  We have begun again.

Thus, the life lived in the flesh is a past life. When Christ Jesus got up, our new life in Him to be lived in the Spirit began.  When Jesus rose so did our standard of living and being.  We now no longer live according to the flesh.  There are now new laws and expectations.  And one thing that we can expect in the life lived in the Spirit is not to be condemned.  Christ’s death has ripped up the old contract that we served under in the flesh and has written another with His finger of love, using His own blood.

How, then, do we identify with race?  Why do we continue to let the social coloring of our skin serve as a means by which to be condemned to its prejudices and stereotypes?  How can we, as Christians, condemn others by these social standards?  We have been resurrected with Jesus Christ.  We have been born again. This morning, I am serving as an alarm clock and this is your morning wake up call.  Get up!  Wake up!  No condemnation exists for those in Christ Jesus.  It does not exist.  There is nothing that race can say about you.  It has nothing on you and can hold nothing against you.  Because we don’t live our lives according to the flesh but by the Spirit.  So, get up and live!  Wake up and live without condemnation!

Race Has No Resurrection Power

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

~Galatians 2.20, NLT

I remain baffled at the continued power of race in the lives of believers despite our conversion to Christianity.  We pride ourselves on our new life in Jesus Christ and testify that we are new creatures in Him, boldly confessing the words of Second Corinthians chapter five and verse seventeen: Therefore if anyone be in Christ, they are a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  But, when we begin to talk about race and the history of racism in America, it is as if nothing has changed and worse still, that people can’t change.

My grandmother Eva Mae used to say, “The things I used to do, I don’t do no more and the places I use to go, I don’t go no more.”  She was declaring the triumph of the will of God over the will of her flesh.  God had changed her inclinations, passions and desires.  This sentiment is also expressed in a song that observes, “I looked at my hands and they looked new.  I looked at my feet and they did too.”  The Christian conversion experience allows us to begin again, to start over no matter where we ended up before coming to Christ.  Still, there are some parts of the old self that remain, that we hold onto and don’t want to let go of when it comes to race.  Despite our new hands and feet, we continue to see ourselves as the world sees us and consequently, practice our faith through the paradigm of race.

Our conversion does not change our conversation about race.  We continue to practice and pass down the its traditions.  We continue to avoid people and places because of race as opposed to changing our behavior in response to Christ’s love, grace and unconditional acceptance of us.  Though born again, we still see each other as racial beings instead of brothers and sisters in Christ.

But, the old self has been crucified with Christ, which leads me to wonder about the supremacy of race.  What of blackness/whiteness/redness/brownness/ yellowness /beigeness remains?  Certainly, we aren’t colored children of God.  Does race’s sinful designation of humanity and the prideful mindset of those who assert omniscience through its stereotypes not die on the cross with Christ?  There are no majority and minority, privileged and powerless, center and marginalized people groups in Christ; instead, we are one in Christ.  The social order of race does not trump that of God’s divine order.

And what of the scripture, “Be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12.2)?  How can we say that we love God with all our mind when we secretly harbor hate-filled prejudices there?  When we refuse to think any other way because our feelings about race are stronger than our faith in God?  But, can the nails that held His flesh in place not hold our convictions firm when we are provoked by the actions of race?  Does the blood of Christ not atone for the sins of race? Can His prayer for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him not reconcile us to each other?

And what of Christ’s resurrection?  Race– this demonstration of temporal hatred does not compare to the the eternal expression of the love of God through the sacrificing of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Once we are baptized and thus buried with Him, we are raised up in those waters of new birth.  The old self, the racial self is crucified with Christ and we no longer live but Christ lives in us.  Race did not rise with Christ as it did not exist in his day despite our 21st century adaptations and redactions that would suggest otherwise and it should not rise with us because race has no resurrection power.