As I mentioned in my blog post yesterday, in the Christian tradition, Easter is not just one Sunday. Instead it is a forty day season from Easter Sunday to Ascension Sunday, based on St. Luke’s telling of Easter in which Jesus continues to appear to early believers for forty days in various forms and settings, demonstrating to them that he is risen from dead, sharing in and making available to them the new kind of life resurrection makes possible not just in the next world but even here and now before death.
This season is important to find a way to keep, since it reminds us when we say “I believe in the resurrection of the dead” or “Christ died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” in our prayers on our own and in the church, we are not saying simply that we believe a man’s body was resuscitated literally some thousands of years ago. (In fact, though some Christians who believe in resurrection deeply believe Jesus’ body was resuscitated, many modern Christians who believe in resurrection are skeptical of this idea). What we are affirming is that God’s presence brings resurrection throughout all of life and creation – life that breaks out in the midst of death, healing and wholeness in the midst of brokenness, community and reconciliation in the midst of alienation. And with it, somehow, the mysterious ongoing living presence of Jesus walking beside us, guiding us, teaching us, and enabling us to become more alive to ourselves, to others, to God’s world, and especially to those hurting around us.
A practice I am engaging in during this season is picking a few verses of Scripture which speak of this reality of resurrection life, and using them as a prayer. I invite you to do the same.
I am including a list of different verses I have found and others shared.
Here is how I engage in this practice, if you would like to join me:
First I center in my body by beginning to take deep breaths in and out, both holding that breath for a moment, and paying attention to the sensation of the breath itself. I then do a quick body skin, paying attention as I breathe to how I feel in various parts of my body from head to toe, while also paying attention to the emotions I am feeling in the moment.
When I have done this and it feels complete, I then say the Scripture in rhythm with my breath, one word at a time. So for the first Scripture listed in John 11, I would begin saying “I” a few times, and then “I am” a few. Then I would add “the”, following “resurrection” and so forth. While I do this, as I say each word I pay attention to my thoughts, feelings, imagination, and sensation.
If a feeling arises, I sit with it. If something seems important – perhaps an idea about my life, a sense of calling, a sense of concern about something in my life – I will talk to God in everyday words about it, like I do to a friend. If I remember some experience I had that connects, or some person going through something related to this word, I then say sit with them in my awareness and, if it feels appropriate, say some words of prayer either in gratitude or request – perhaps for discernment about how to move forward with the situation, or for God to touch that person in a special way.
Then when I have worked through the whole prayer, I sit in awareness of the experience. As I do so I pay attention to what feelings of call remain either to hold something in deeper awareness throughout the day, to reach out in care for another person, to live a more whole life in some way, or to engage in some new (or renewed) action or commitment. Even the sense to continue what I am already doing, but with more encouragement or awareness can flow from this experience.
Engaging in this practice during Lent with a text from John truly has opened up my heart in new ways. I hope doing this practice around a text about resurrection will continue this process in my life.
I hope as you engage in this practice yourself, you do the same.
Please as you continue your resurrection journey, feel free to share what practices (including this one) you engage in and how you are affected.
Blessings on your journey!
Your progressive redneck preacher,
“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die…” John 11:25
John 20:15 “Thinking he was the gardener…”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a] Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
1 Corinthians 15:20-22New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.[a] 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22 for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:18 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!
Philippians 3:8-11New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ,[a] the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ[b] and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
John 20:21-23New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
““For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
Romans 6:5 NIV
“Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”
Revelation 20:6 NIV
John 14:3New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.
“we were buried together with Christ through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life” – Roman 6:4, Common English Bible
John 14:18-20New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
18 “I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
(above also possibly Pentecost meditation)
Galatians 2:19b-20 (Common English Bible)
I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who love me and gave himself for me”.
“I’ve received all authority in heaven and earth. “ – Matthew 28:18
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded? – Mathew 28:19-20a
“Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end”—Matthew 28:20b
Job 19:25-27 (NKJV)
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!”
Mark 16:8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Hebrew 13:5 For God has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”