The Story of Death and New Life

Easter is late this year—almost as late as it can occur—and I often find it harder to “walk” the events of Holy Week, the last week of Jesus’ earthly life, when spring is in full swing. The air is filled with a sense of renewed energy and life as trees burst into leaf and bloom, daffodils dance in the breeze, and squirrels and birds move exuberantly around the churchyard. And so it is especially jarring to hear the Passion Gospel (the story of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion) on Palm Sunday in this setting, and even more so to slow down our walk and go through each day of Holy Week, focusing on a small part of Jesus’ gut wrenching story of betrayal, suffering, and death in our daily evening service.

I often wonder how the world can just go on bursting into life when we in the church are living this story of fear, violence, suffering, and death. Doesn’t it know what is happening? That the Prince of Peace and Lord of Life is dying while it just carries on blooming growing?

And yet, it makes perfect sense. Because the story of death and new life, the story that Jesus lived and lives, is God’s story—it is ingrained, built right into the world. The pattern of suffering and dying, yet being reborn is one that the trees know, the birds and squirrels know, and one that we know too. It is a story that acknowledges the distorted and broken world in which we live and the violence we do to each other, and yet states loudly, clearly, and unequivocally that the end of the story is always new life in God. That nothing is more powerful than God’s love, not even death. That resurrection, both in this life and in the life to come is God’s way. It is a story that we walk in our own lives, and that in the next week we will walk with Jesus. Come join us at St. Peter’s during Holy Week as we wait with Jesus and bear witness to the end of his life, then joyfully shout Alleluia with us on Easter as God puts an eternal exclamation point on God’s YES to life.