This past week, on Maundy Thursday I had an interesting conversation with Rev. Ken Orth, my spiritual director.  He gave me a phrase that echoed with an interesting insight.

 Jesus was Resurrected
    Jesus wasn’t Resuscitated
What came out of the tomb was not a reanimation of what went into the tomb.  On Easter many of you heard the scripture from Mark or John.  In these Gospel accounts the women who come to the tomb are terrified and amazed at what they discover.  And even when Jesus appears to them they do not recognize him.  Of course not, he was resurrected not resuscitated. 

Jesus emerged different from the tomb; see the holes, place you hand in the side.  And he warns them not to cling to him.  That would be our natural tendency for resuscitation. To cling to what we feared and grieved that we lost; to hold onto it so it can’t go away again, ever.  Resurrection moves us forward, not backward.

My conversation with Dr. Ken continued.  (It would be echoed in the live streamed Easter worship with Rev. Jonathan Drury who, I believe, used the word ‘gruesome’).  We talked about the well known Easter metaphor of metamorphosis: caterpillar to butterfly.  As the caterpillar enters the chrysalis phase it liquifies itself internally as new cells emerge for the formation of a new creature.  What goes into the chrysalis is not the same as what comes out of the chrysalis. Can you tell where I am going with this?

The week that follows Easter shifts us.  It always has.  And this year we’ve had a month of self-quarantining in our homes.  We’ve had an intense week of figuring out how to convey the deep meaning of Holy Week through online tools that stream into stay safe homes.  The Lentiest Lent, some have said.

We are weary.  We are so ready to shift.  Our world, from politicians to news commentators to health care workers, are debating how soon we can get things back to normal.  And there it is, that phrase, ‘back to normal’.   There are even warnings that our economic, entertainment complex will be strongly encouraging us to get back to business as usual to jump start the economy as soon as someone gives the word it is safe to come out of our tombs.  It is that strong tendency to resuscitate. 

So, are you going to resuscitate your church or resurrect it?  We’ve learned a lot in this time of quarantine and safe distancing.  Photos from space show a cleaner earth.  Photos from the earth show a cleaner sky.  Photos from your online experience show that we are learning new ways to connect in worship and community.  Photos on social media tell stories of the impact churches are having from mask-making to meal sharing to grocery shopping for the least of these who need the church to be church.

There are lessons you are learning about what is possible.  Lessons learned about adaptation and creativity.  Lessons learned about new ways to connect folks with sacred community.  Lessons learned about ways that God moves among and within us.  Lessons learned about partnerships and networks within our neighborhoods.  Lessons learned about long held assumptions we believed were true and absolute, and aren’t. 

Don’t get me wrong.  There is a lot of good in what was.  The beloved community gathering where they can connect in compassion.  Worship held in sacred space and moments where we experience God.  Working together to bring the love and justice of God into the world. 

But now we are learning that there were limitations in all of those that were not necessary.  Limitations that kept us from being all that God knows is possible.    Limitations that may have confirmed the view of many that the church is neither effective nor relevant.  Limitations we do not want to resuscitate. 

This is the choice we will all face in the coming weeks:  do we go back to normal or do we take what we have learned into a new normal.  I suppose it depends on whether we cling to a resuscitated Jesus or follow a resurrected one.   

PS: Keep an eye on our website and emails.  We’ll be offering some opportunities for conversations on what we’re learning and what we want to carry forward.


Don H. Remick

Don Remick is Bridge Conference Minister.

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