There are places in our world where seasons are shadows of what we experience here in these mountains. Mountain seasons are intense and they are rapid and sudden. In these mountains, I regularly hear people say: “This is the Rockies, you can experience three seasons in one day.” Something about the altitude and our proximity to the heavens makes seasons sudden, intense, and beautiful. The mountain spring comes with a rush but is also sometimes chased away by powerful blasts from winter that reluctantly let go. But spring does arrive. Powerful colors emerge alerting us to new life from which so assuredly seemed like death.
Paul writing to the church in Corinth about the resurrection of the body would remind the church that death is not ultimately victorious. Winter is not victorious; it gives way to spring. That which seemed like death gives way to life, and despair gives way to hope. Philosopher Bernard Williams wrote, “The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created spring.”
The Easter biblical narrative is about the sudden, intense, and beautiful manifestation of hope. Because of Easter, death is not victorious; death has, in Paul’s words, ‘lost its sting.’
As religious people, Easter defines us. Easter, at least the hope and new life, behind Easter, is, according to theologian Luke Timothy Johnson, the “engine that drove Christianity” in the first century. Easter is about hope; and for those first disciples experiencing the empty tomb, it was sudden, intense, and once they figured it out, beautiful. Easter defines us as religious people. In that defining, Easter gives each of us, young, old, powerful, weak, poor, or rich, a tremendous life force. That life force emerges from hope. From that hope, this life force is capable of transforming all of us without regard to who we are. William Bridges writes, “When you see a blade of grass cracking its way up through a sidewalk, you know there’s a tremendous life force in even very small life forms.”
New life is being experienced at Hilltop. In some cases it might be gradually in breaking, but in others it seems sudden, intense and beautiful. There may be some who will attempt to introduce winter into the conversation, but Easter defines us! This new life is truly like blades of grass pushing their way up in unexpected and different places. In Mark 16 the women go to the tomb wondering who will roll away the stone, and the answer is sudden, intense, and, after they figure it out, beautiful. The same force that gave and gives us life rolled that stone away. Now go and project that life force so that the new life we are experiencing at Hilltop is shared by others.
Death is not ultimately victorious, death has ‘lost its sting.’ He is risen, he is risen indeed!
Selah, Pastor Dennis