I don’t often feel sweaty hands or pit-in-the-stomach nerves, but when I do, I know it must be time for the bi-annual sectional rehearsal of the church choir. It is a much-anticipated evening where I stand in front of sixty sopranos and answer all of their most difficult questions. Will I sing measure 81 for them again? I can try. Did I realize my rhythm is wrong at 120? Obviously not. Am I pregnant yet? No.
The women of the soprano section are a mixed bag. We have the rule enforcers, the fashionistas, the over-sharers, and the prayer warriors. Women with foster children and prodigal children and dogs as children. Ages 16 to 89, they are snapshots of God’s work in many circumstances. On Easter Sunday, they stand in matching purple muumuus and sing their part loud and strong (and mostly correct).
“The Lamb of God became the Lord of lords
And He will reign as King forevermore
He conquered death and now He holds the key
The Lamb of God bought eternal life for you and me”
Jesus is the Lord of Lords and will reign forevermore. I find that my focus most often drifts to the life Jesus lived on earth and the suffering He endured for my sake. The symbol of the cross is propped up in the front of the sanctuary, nestled in busy intersections on the side of the road, and hanging around my neck. He suffered and He died. God was the victim in a tragedy. The first time I can remember crying in church was during a Good Friday service as my brain tried to fathom the injustice of a perfect God suffering in my place. But the crucifixion would mean nothing without the resurrection that followed.
The resurrection. The miracle on which Christianity hangs. The disciples, who were accused of hiding the body, believed so strongly in the resurrection that eleven of the twelve died martyrs’ deaths. Women and children held hands in the bloody sand of the Roman Colosseum and sang praises to the God they knew was alive even as lions descended upon them. How could they be so sure?
We can be certain of the resurrection of Jesus because His resurrection provides the power for our own.
I have been reborn. Throughout history, entire cultures have been transformed through the power of the resurrection. St. Patrick experienced its power and Ireland was changed. Saul the persecutor met the resurrected Christ and was reborn as Paul the Apostle. New Christians around the globe are testifying to this transformation through water baptism as they symbolically die with Christ and are raised to life again. Even when it puts their very lives in danger.
My belief in the resurrection has never endangered my life. I happily peruse the resurrection themed home décor each Spring and proudly display cleverly worded calligraphy in my home and office. I rely on my iPhone X to reassure me that the word resurrection does, in fact, contain two r’s and only one s. I am comfortable with the resurrection. Happy to discuss it. Familiar with the phrases attached to it. Bordering on complacent.
My familiarity with the resurrection does not diminish its power, it only makes it harder to recognize.
I have not experienced an attention-grabbing, earth shattering vision like Paul but I have heard a still, small voice. I have never endured physical persecution because of my faith but I have been empowered to stand strong in the midst of contempt and condescension.
On Sundays, I am one of many women in matching purple singing about the God who conquered death and bought eternal life for you and me. Despite our differences, the resurrection unites us. One experienced the resurrection of her marriage after 25 years of strife. Another relied on this renewing power as she walked through a devastating miscarriage. All of us have been spiritually reborn.
We will probably never die heroically, but we do die daily.
Day by day, moment by moment, we rely on the power of the resurrected Jesus to help us “put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). And what joy it brings to let go of self and lean on the God who gives life.