We have ended the penitential season of Lent (for those of us in the Western church) and we can shift our thoughts and intentions toward the joy of what Christ has done in us and for us! We do not leave confession of sin behind us, but it seems appropriate to now add to our confessions the consciousness of the resurrected life. It can be as simple as intentionally taking time each day to reflect on the day we have had and ask God to show us where we experienced his goodness and the power of his resurrection. I don’t mean to imply that we should not have been doing that all through Lent, but now as our hearts turn toward new life we can shift our emphasis toward celebrating Christ’s resurrection power!

I’ve been using an app called lectio365 for prayer at the end of the day and I am enjoying it thoroughly! It’s spoken and there is a transcript of what is prayed alongside it. I had not realized before how powerful the spoken voice is but there’s something about it that deeply resonates with the hunger in my soul to hear the Father’s voice. In the nightly prayers, the readers encourage us to be conscious of the presence of God in our day in good and delightful ways. As well, there is a time to consider the sins of the day, and confess them to the Lord.

The prayer I’m writing below includes their brief nightly prayer of examen. I’ve added the part about resurrection life.

“Reflecting on the day that has passed, Lord, show me where you were at work in my life. In what ways did I experience your goodness and where did I hear you speak?” Lord, in what ways did I experience the power of your resurrection – whether in thought, word or deed?

I am not sure I could answer these questions even once today! I need the repetitive nature of the practice that then trains me to see what I have not seen in the past. Repetition teaches me to be aware of God’s presence throughout the day. I’ve made a commitment to do this daily until Pentecost Sunday (May 19, 2024).

I’m reminded of a set of resolutions that Clyde Kilby, a beloved professor at Wheaton College gave his students. Many of you are familiar with these resolutions. I believe what Dr. Kilby was trying to do with his students was to help them look up and out of their painful and over scrupulous introspections. This is what he wrote:

I shall open my eyes and ears. Once every day I shall simply stare at a tree, a flower, a cloud, or a person. I shall not then be concerned at all to ask what they are but simply be glad that they are. I shall joyfully allow them the mystery of what Lewis calls their “divine, magical, terrifying and ecstatic” existence.

What I love about this is that Dr. Kilby asked his students to look up to see the true, the good and the beautiful. This is so appropriate for resurrection living! You might ask – what in the world does this have to do with the resurrection?? Good question, I would say! I’ll answer that in a moment!

Paul, an apostle of the Resurrection – never separated the resurrection of Christ from his crucifixion – In almost every account in his letters, when he would speak of the efficacy of the Cross, he would follow it or precede it with a word about the power of Christ’s resurrection. Take a look at Philippians 3:10 – 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death… (Phi 3:10 ESV)

“Paul views the cross and resurrection as two inseparable parts of one great movement of grace, in with God deals with human sin and [enmity] and so reconciles humanity to himself.”

Ian Paul ~https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/pauls-understanding-of-resurrection-i/

We see this of course in the sacrament of baptism and in the sacrament of Communion. In baptism we go down into the baptismal waters as Paul says in Romans 6:3-7 – taking our place in Christ’s death, dying to our sins. And then in verses 8-13 of this same chapter – there is this glorious rising where we rise out of the waters having been set free from sin! A friend put it this way – “if the resurrection had not happened, we would have drowned in those baptismal waters!” And of course, we do this in the Eucharist – and then actually every time we confess our sins and go on to receive Christ’s forgiveness. It’s a death and life world for us!

Resurrection life means that sin no longer has claim on us! Paul goes on in chapter 8,

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

Romans 8:11

Because Christ rose – the Holy Spirit now lives in us and gives us grace to live the new life we have been given! And that new life is nourished in us by practicing the presence of Christ – and by loving the true, the good and the beautiful. Sin has a grip and will have until Christ returns again, but it is not a death grip! Incarnational power leads us into freedom – God does the work, yet we must cultivate it through obedience, and grace, and love.

In many of our church traditions we are very familiar with the benefits of the Cross – forgiveness of sin, a right standing with God, freedom from the power of sin and death. Yet, we (I) struggle with owning and naming the power of the resurrection. Part of that is because, again in my evangelical tradition, we have holy week, Good Friday and then Easter – and then we’re done. Phew! In coming to love the rhythm of the liturgical calendar, I so appreciate that this time is now a season. Eastertide! And we have the leisure and grace to explore what resurrection life really looks like!

To return to the question above – what in the world does the resurrection have to do with loving the true, the good, and the beautiful? I would say – new life, a fertile heart, a new understanding of the body, and now being immersed in Christ’s life, death and resurrection gives us (as Anne of Green Gables said) “scope for the imagination!”

I’m leaving you with a quote from Dostoyevsky (which I have doctored somewhat) – “the infinity of the human soul–having been revealed in Christ and capable of fitting into itself all the boundlessness of [the risen Christ] –is at one and the same time both the greatest good, the highest truth, and the most perfect beauty.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8 (ESV)


photo by Marc Schulte, Unsplash