One year, after Easter, a church member asked for a meeting. In hushed tones she asked: “What does the Resurrection really mean? For me, today?”
After years of hearing the Easter story, she felt something was missing.
It wasn’t a question about the mystery of a once dead but now-alive Jesus and the promise of a life beyond this one. She got all that.
Her mother had recently died, her only child was moving off to college, and her relationship with her husband was crumbling. A triple-whammy. Her identity as a daughter, parent and spouse was in flux.
She yearned for hope, renewal, restoration of normalcy, and a way to discover new meaning and purpose.
Being human is to walk a path of such realities ensnaring our feet like tangled vines. The growth can be so thick we stumble and find ourselves flat on the ground, wondering what our faith has done for us lately.
She asked, “What does Resurrection mean when I make mistakes, I’m visited by fear and anxiety, I lose people I love, regrets haunt me, I’ve been wounded, and it’s so hard to forgive or receive forgiveness?”
Her faith in Resurrection wasn’t much of a balm for the pain of her present moment. It was one thing to believe the Easter story. But her immediate concern was rebirth in this life.
Resurrection strikes a powerful chord because it speaks to our need to glimpse hope within hopelessness. It affirms love is mightier and more enduring than any fear, any separation, and any pain.
Resurrection is about loving presence: personal, protective, and persistent. A love that won’t let us be abandoned. Even smack in the middle of the worst the world can hand us, it takes us by the hand and leads us to a hope-filled future. So, resurrection is not limited to a one-time event, but an ongoing reality.
I knew my struggling church member was a fan of Broadway musicals. I urged her to pull out her “West Side Story” album, and suggested she listen carefully to the song “Somewhere.” Conceived as a ballad between young lovers, like any great work the lyrics by Stephen Sondheim can transcend their original meaning.
I encouraged her to hear “Somewhere” in a new light, as a way of understanding the present nature of resurrection:
There’s a place for us,
somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
wait for us somewhere.
There’s a time for us,
someday a time for us.
Time together with time spare,
time to learn, time to care, some day!
We’ll find a new way of living.
We’ll find a way of forgiving.
There’s a place for us,
a time and place for us.
Hold my hand and we’re halfway there.
Hold my hand and I’ll take you there.
Somehow, some day, somewhere!
Since we are people who love – and love is more powerful and lasting than anything – resurrection is a promise we can offer and receive daily. It’s the promise of a reborn, restored, whole, and hope-filled life, available in the present.
Easter celebrates a particular moment of resurrection. But in the realm of every day, we can believe in a place for us, a new way of living, a way of forgiving. A resurrection. Reach out in love. Hold another’s hand and you’re halfway there.
The Rev. David Green is pastor of Salem United Church of Christ in Doylestown. He can be found there on Sundays at 10 a.m. or anytime at salemstrong.org.