Ultimate threat / Ultimate hope

“For as by a man came death, by man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.”- 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

For as long as I can recall, Good Friday has infused my soul with a heightened impact of Christ’s suffering and death that dwarfs the banality of everyday life.  As a fourth grade member of Ashburn Lutheran’s children’s choir, director Herbert Gotsch led contemplative choral arrangements that enhanced corporate worship.  When I was an upper grade student at Timothy Lutheran School, each class member received a wallet-sized photo of the Shroud of Turin.  The crucifixion images accentuated the intensity of Christ’s torment.  Today these emotions are expressed through the muted, somber tones of the organ- establishing a meditative frame for worship and setting the stage for Easter.  With the opening chords of the first Easter hymn, the organ roars back to life as the trumpets announce:  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

When we’re hung out to dry by our ministry downsizing or vocation loss, “life” as we once knew it ceases to exist.  Not only do we grieve the apparent death of our ministry or vocation, but we are emptied of our selves.  We wander off  futilely  attempting to find life through vindication for the injustices of our loss, hastily reestablishing our identity in vocation, or coveting earthly possessions offering merely temporary respite.  Yet, as we anxiously pursue getting our life back, St. Paul provides a timely, cautionary reminder: “You are not your own, you were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).”  The “new normal” really isn’t new at all, as we read in Philippians 1:21- “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

John Ortberg (Who is This Man?) describes the transformative essence of the cross:

“”The cross was changed from the symbol of a human empire’s power into a symbol of the suffering love of God.  It was changed from an expression of ultimate threat into an expression of ultimate hope.”

After the interminable silence of Saturday, hope was released on Sunday.  Pastor Ortberg states that the essential nature of hope calls us to “die to the lesser life of a lesser self so that a greater self might be born.”

About the author

Dave Henning

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