I’m not by nature a revengeful person. I find it pretty easy to let things go and move on. I guess that comes from a mixture of nature, nurture, and life experiences. But when I read about the injustices of Easter Friday I feel the urge to get revenge rising within me. If I really get caught up in it I can find myself wishing God had given a few of those crucifiers and mockers a hefty flick. I have to remind myself that it’s Friday … but Sunday’s a comin’!
There’s another set of circumstances that bring about that reaction as well and it’s all about injustice against other people. When I listen to some of the stories of people doing it tough I hear about past injustices and I get angry. If death can be interpreted as the absence of life then often times these people are living the death that Easter Friday causes us to remember. Homelessness can be like death warmed up. Mental health issues when uncontrolled are a living death and substance abuse is often times a means of trying to cope with a journey of death. These are the stories we hear so often from the people we seek to walk with through Urban Seed.
If Friday is about death, Saturday is about the loss of hope, the dawning of despair. It would’ve been a really black, nothing kind of day for the friends of Jesus. The rest of the world seems to get back to normal and the world goes on and that makes the hopelessness even greater for those who grieve the losses. Life is lost in death and there seems to be no hope of it ever getting any better.
Again, that’s how it is for people doing life tough. People who are lost in homelessness, or locked up in addictive lifestyles, or suffering some sort of out of control emotional disturbance see no end to their despair and soon develop a sense of hopelessness; its terribly debilitating and frightening and life destroying.
But Sunday is about resurrection and the new life it brings. Easter Sunday dawns to the celebration of life arising out of death and despair. Jesus’ friends couldn’t find the body that they expected. They found something totally unexpected, Jesus alive and well. Through the fog of despair and doubt and hopelessness and wish fulfillment there was creeping a realization of new life to be lived. And Christians ever since have been proclaiming, sometimes in the midst of their own despair and doubt and hopelessness, ‘He is risen... He is risen indeed!”
At Urban Seed we walk with people doing it tough and sometimes they discover a sense of hope in the midst of their life stories. That probably should read ‘they are discovering a sense of hope’ because it’s always a work in progress, as it is with all of us. This is resurrection hope, the reality that life can come out of and in the midst of past experiences of death and despair. We often use a model of life called the Circle of Courage. This circle involves four life-affirming, death-defeating realities. We talk about a sense of belonging, the ability to master life skills, a growing sense of independence, and a willingness to be generous in giving of ourselves to others.
When the friends of Jesus started living life in the realities of the Resurrection they knew they belonged to each other. This gave them confidence to face the injustices of life. They became resilient. They also mastered what they needed to be the people that Jesus was calling them to be. They were then able to stand on their own two feet, unafraid and to generously give of themselves to a hurting world, no matter what. They were living the circle of courage.
And so it is with us today, no matter how tough life has been. As we choose to live the life we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday and commit ourselves to the life characteristics of the Circle of Courage, we find hope beginning to take root, and when hope takes root… Well, my goodness, we could change the world!
- David Wilson