I know we are still in the midst of Lent; however, our lectionary texts are already turning us toward the end of Jesus’ life and the hope of resurrection. In the Epistle reading for this coming Sunday we hear these words from Paul: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his suffering by becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10). The Apostle’s identification with Christ is the very pattern of his own life and, I believe, the essential template for all Christians.
Life in faith has a paschal rhythm to it, dying and rising with Christ—and not just at the end of our earthly lives. Our baptism is the figural representation of this, and by following Jesus, we learn to die to selfish ambition that we might walk in newness of life. The season of Lent requires stripping away what is desiccated in our lives, so that we might be fruitful.
Indeed, all creation reflects this impulse of revivification following death. Outside my window at the seminary small daffodils are braving the Kansas wind, waving their testimony to spring’s approaching renewal. God’s Spirit sustains life, even through death.
Later this week, the Women’s Leadership Initiative cohort will travel to Thailand for a pilgrimage experience. We will be visiting places of women’s empowerment, which will inspire the work we do here. In Bangkok, we will learn of the new industry women pursue, making jewelry, after departing the sex industry. We will learn how others revived tribal crafts such as weaving in order to move out of prostitution toward entrepreneurship. We will witness the significance of education for transforming the horizons of girls and women.
Death precedes new life, and the rising these women enjoy is a form of resurrection. Their experience of newness gives testimony to God’s work of making all things new. Indeed, dying to old patterns and living with hope exemplifies the in-breaking of God’s reign in their lives.
Practicing resurrection is the test of whether we are maturing in Christ. As Eugene Peterson writes, “The resurrection of Jesus establishes the conditions in which we live and mature in the Christian life and carry on this conversation: Jesus alive and present” (Practice Resurrection, 8). God’s resurrecting power grants not only a future with hope, but also a metamorphosis of glory in the present, as we are “changed from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Molly T. Marshall
Central prepares creative leaders for the church and for the world.