Monday, April 13, 2009

Reflections on Resurrection Sunday

“How was your weekend?” That is a pretty typical question to hear on a Monday morning, and I (Mitch) have been reflecting quite a bit today on how I would respond to that question if asked tomorrow morning. Right now I would say my response would be, “Surprisingly emotional.”
Today was Resurrection Sunday, so as followers of Christ we were celebrating the most significant event for our faith. It is impossible to capture all of the significance of the death and resurrection of Christ, so I won’t attempt it here. I’ll just share a bit of my experience.

I do not tend to be a very outwardly emotional person, at least not in public, but every-now-and-then a moment catches me by surprise. This has happened a few times at worship services, and today was one of them. The moments catch me by surprise because they are not usually in the settings I would expect. One could see how a Good Friday service could be very emotional as you meditate on the deep grief accompanying the death of Christ and reflect on your own brokenness and inner darkness, but those do not tend to be the ones that get me. Resurrection Sunday is a time to celebrate and rejoice, and that’s what it was for us today. There is always a special energy among the church on this day, and I particularly felt that this morning. Churches tend to do something a little special (as they should) for this day, and Crestview was no exception. I do not, however, tend to be someone who is particularly impressed by fancy or trendy worship sets (I am not particularly put off by them either). The service at Crestview usually begins with three or four worship songs. As you would imagine the ones today were very celebrative speaking directly about the resurrection. These were upbeat, hand clapping energetic songs (perfect for two little girls that love to dance in the aisles every Sunday, especially when they have new dresses to twirl around), and I found that from the very beginning of the first one my eyes were pretty much filled with tears. (Okay, they never actually did spill out, but it took about all I had to keep my cheeks dry.) A number of times I couldn’t really sing because my voice was too choked up. I didn’t see this coming at all. So what was it that got to me during these high-energy, celebrative songs?

One of the main thoughts that was going through my head was that the only way our life makes any sense is in the context of the resurrection of Christ. There is a lot that is really good and beautiful about our life, but we are also in a season of life that has been quite hard. If Jesus had not overcome death, if we did not have this assurance that in the end the love, the righteousness and the justice of God wins out, then it would not be worth it to put ourselves through the tough times we are in (not that all suffering is avoidable, but much of ours is self-inflicted due to choices we have made to pursue certain visions). Many of the songs today were about victory—“Where thy vict’ry, oh grave?” “Fought the fight, the battle won.” Just to pull out a few lines. I get emotional thinking about the fact that that victory was won through meakness, through suffering, through death. The resurrection shows that the way of Christ—the way of suffering, the way of submission and obedience until death, the way of peace—is not just a noble way. It is the way that, in the end, good overcomes, the way that God makes all things right, and He is making all things right. It may not be immediately clear how this directly ties in to making our life make sense, but somehow it does for me, much more now than it did just a few years ago.

Being in school can often bring out some of my worst attributes. That is partly why this has been such a difficult season of life. It has also been a season where at times my faith has taken a beating, more due to letting myself be consumed by other concerns than being due to direct attacks. During the time of worshiping through music it was as if my emotions reminded me that yes, I do have my hope in the resurrection of Christ and in His present and coming kingdom. I do believe that things will be set right for those who are suffering now. I do believe that we do not even have to fear death. I do believe that my Redeemer lives and that He is in the process of redeeming the world for Himself, and He can even redeem this time of my being in school with all of its difficulties. It was sort of an inside out way of being strengthened in my faith that I did not expect, especially as someone who is at least suspicious—at most cynical—about overly emotional expressions of faith. It was also a reminder of how I have experienced the power of His resurrection in my life, as flawed as I am. There are those times when I have been stubborn and hard-hearted that He has softened my heart somehow by his grace when I was totally incapable of setting myself aright, even this very weekend. When I am in those moments where I do not want to yield, I do not know how God will get me turned around and reconcile things, but somehow He always does, and that gives me hope.

Of course it would also contribute to my emotions anytime I would look over and see Anna and Josie spinning in the aisle, sometimes with hands raised. Some of that was just the emotions of being a father and some of it was the beauty of the image of children being joyful and worshiping in their own, unconstrained way.

So that was some of my experience today, Resurrection Sunday. I don’t know that it really makes sense for anybody else. It was my experience, one that I would not have had five years ago. I can't quite capture it or put words on it all. Thanks, Greig, and the rest of the crew involved in setting up an environment for worship this morning. I was blessed by it.

Oh yeah, I promise that the pictures of three beautiful girls in cute dresses and their beautiful mother will be up soon.

Christos aneste!
Alethos aneste!

Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!


Michelle said...

Thank you for taking time to share your experience of yesterday, Mitch. I am blessed by your transparency. Sometimes I, too, feel tired by this season of your family's life, and it is an unbelievable blessing to be refreshed by you, yourself. Aside from the functional difficulty of having a friend who is a full-time student, one of the hardest things about your commitment to school is missing out on reflections like these, since you don't have the time to put your heart into words for anyone but your family right now(as it should be!).
As I read your words, I was nodding in agreement, in harmonic concert with your spirit. I, too, was answering for the hope that I have over and over again during worship.
It's an honor to remember and hope with you and your family. I, and Rob and the kids, love you all so very much.

Chad Clement said...

Mitch, you are quite the writer. As you know, I am not the best "reader" in the world. However, as I was reading your comments, I could visualize you and the family in worship. I could hear the sounds of music and see the girls dancing in the aisles. What a wonderful experience for you to have. I hope you share many more moments like this as your girls grow and discover their faith. They certainly have great teachers and role models in you and Katie. Love, Chad

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