“By God’s great mercy God has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
1 Peter 1:3
Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen Indeed!
The proclamation of the Resurrection of Jesus the Christ following his death by crucifixion is the central tenant of the Christian faith. The message of the Resurrection, however literally or figuratively we understand it, is that there is always new life coming out of the dead and dying places that we may find ourselves surrounded by or in the midst of. 1 Peter calls this “a living hope” (1:3). I love David Steindl-Rast’s definition of hope in his book Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer: “Hope is openness for surprise.”
We are surrounded by circumstances, events and news that can cause us to feel despair, the opposite of hope. The newspaper headline this morning, Sunday, April 28, is about yet another shooting in the midst of people at worship; this time in a synagogue in San Diego. We hear dire warnings about climate change, and family members and some of us may be in the midst of life threatening health issues. There are refugees at our borders desperate for a chance to live and raise their families in peace. As Christians we follow Jesus who taught us to love God and love others, but sometimes our words and actions toward fellow Christians do not reflect the love we are called to. In the midst of despair it is hard to imagine new life, but hope is about being open to the unimaginable, even in the midst of what appears hopeless. The Resurrection is proof of hope, of being “open to surprise.”
Though it would be easy to dwell on the evidence of despair, there is also news that fuels our hope in new life. The City of Eureka is in the midst of an “unimaginable” and precedent setting action as it returns land to the Wiyot people. The Yurok tribe in Klamath is set to be partner to the return of the once almost extinct California Condors to the north coast. Dams are scheduled to be removed from the Klamath River so that the salmon can pursue their natural life cycle. True North Organizing Network, Humboldt Interfaith Fellowship and the three pastors on the “Block” are involved in work of sharing and building up faith values in the midst of differences.
The natural world is a wonderful place to look for the “new birth” promised us. We live in a region where there is much greenery and flowers blooming year round, but spring still brings new life emerging out of what appeared dead and gone – bulbs long buried in the ground shoot up new life in blossoming trilliums, dead looking branches bare beautiful fragrant lilacs. Driving around Humboldt County one can see new-born sheep and cattle. On this morning on our customary Sunday walk to the bay we saw a mother seal followed by a baby seal.
Yes, we are indeed surrounded by “new birth!” Let that new birth ignite your openness for the surprises that God has in store for us all.