The tree of life shall give them fragrant perfume, and they shall neither toil nor become weary. Go and you will receive; pray that your days may be few, that they may be shortened. The kingdom is already prepared for you; be on the watch! Call, O call heaven and earth to witness: I set aside evil and created good; for I am the Living One, says the Lord. “Mother, embrace your children; bring them up with gladness, as does a dove; strengthen their feet, because I have chosen you,” says the Lord. “And I will raise up the dead from their places, and bring them out from their tombs, because I recognize my name in them. Do not fear, mother of children, for I have chosen you,” says the Lord. “I will send you help, my servants Isaiah and Jeremiah. According to their counsel I have consecrated and prepared for you twelve trees loaded with various fruits, and the same number of springs flowing with milk and honey, and seven mighty mountains on which roses and lilies grow; by these I will fill your children with joy. Guard the rights of the widow, secure justice for the ward, give to the needy, defend the orphan, clothe the naked, care for the injured and the weak, do not ridicule the lame, protect the maimed, and let the blind have a vision of my splendor. Protect the old and the young within your walls. When you find any who are dead, commit them to the grave and mark it, and I will give you the first place in my resurrection.” (2 Esdras 2:12-23)
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” (John 11:20-27)
But this I admit to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our ancestors, believing everything laid down according to the law or written in the prophets. I have a hope in God—a hope that they themselves also accept—that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. (Acts 24:14-15)
The transition from life as we know life, to death as it appears to us, then the transition to life again, is full of mystery. We trust that all things are possible with God and that God can make all things new. We live physically, we have a life of thoughts and imagination, and we have a spiritual life. Our deaths may occur on all the same levels: physical, mental, and spiritual. Yet, in an effort to understand this mystery of resurrection, we might question: On how many levels does this resurrection take place? Through God we understand that the physical world can be redeemed and made whole. Through God we understand that our inner life can be cleansed and made new. Our spiritual life, our spiritual being, is transformed by God’s power. All of these aspects of life are resurrected through God’s power and love. God’s love is revealed to us in the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He shows us and bears witness to the truth through his life and his ministry. It is a ministry of healing: physical, mental, and spiritual. Forgiveness is offered as a replacement for judgment. His commandment is to love others as he has loved us.
The realization of God’s love is not possible without a complete turning of our whole being to God—teshuvah (טשובה), repentance—a turning to God through the exercise of our free will. The cleansing occurs through water rituals, like baptism. We are awakened to the opportunity and to the possibility of life in every moment, even the darkest moments. We sometimes have more trust in the future resurrection than in the present moment. But Jesus is clear when he says that “everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” When harsh words or hurtful actions have wounded or ended a relationship, do we walk away believing there is no possibility of reconciliation? Do we only see resurrection as a restoration of the way things were before? Or is there the possibility that the new relationship can be based on new understanding and new life? Can forgiveness help us heal and restore wholeness? Perhaps we are not whole to begin with if the possibility of forgiveness has not made its way into our consciousness. If we get stuck trying to restore what previously existed rather than embracing the new possibility life offers us, then perhaps we do not understand how love and resurrection work together.
All of these transformations—forgiveness, healing, wholeness, newness, resurrected life—occur within us. Life is born again inside of us in all the fullness of God’s mercy and love. When Christ comes to us again we understand that all of these things come to us, that part of the resurrection of Christ is an internal spiritual event always present for us to realize in every moment.
In the darkest moments of life, may you, God of light and love, enter us and make us new. Help us surrender to the possibilities and the opportunities in the newness of resurrected life. Help us find this life in every moment. May our turning of our whole being toward you put us in right relationship to your universal law, and may we be ever more mindful of your continuous presence. Through the example of your son, Jesus Christ, through his resurrection and his way, may we overcome all forms of death and live to the fullest the life of purpose you intend for us. Amen.
From The Readings
2012-215 Here are some of the things that we believe should be expressed. One is how the Trinity can be used to explain the many different expressions of God. Through seeing how God moves through Spirit or through God’s power and omnipotence; or through human manifestation of God’s presence; all of these can contribute to an understanding of the different expressions of God’s presence and will in the world. This is one place and one focus of exploration. Second, in studying the retelling of the ascension of Christ, we see the transcendence, but we also see that Mary cannot touch Jesus because he’s not yet ascended to God. And here we have the expression of the understanding of the miracle of God’s presence; and yet at the same time, the inability of the human form and mind to touch and comprehend all of the mystery of God. This is why that mystery is best understood in the context of love as it is expressed through Christ. And then finally, for now, the experience of the risen Christ that is the result of meditation and prayer. It is the result of surrendering and accepting God and accepting ourselves as human beings wholly contained within God’s purpose. This will help as well. Jesus is the perfect embodiment of many of these attributes of God in human form. This is the revelation and the realization that is found in Christ. Remember that this revelation is unique and that this revelation can be universal, but it cannot be universal when it is used to condemn, confine, oppress or push away others. It is universal because it is written on every person’s heart even though they might know it by a different name, or a different feeling, or a different thought. And this is where Jeffrey can creatively express this universality in ways that accept and acknowledge the experience and truth that others have found in the world and how it relates to Christ.