Making Room for Life
Do you remember youth camp? Many of us spent at least part of our teenage summers immersed in that wonderful weeklong experience of highly energetic days of adventure and highly meaningful nights of worship. Camp is so fun. The memories are lasting. Overall, it can be a great experience, and I long for the post-pandemic days when we can return to its revelry. However, if you did experience camp you likely experienced the effect of coming off the “camp high” as well. Shifting from a week where every aspect of each day revolves around spiritual formation back into the “real world” can be a shock to the system. With this abrupt transition our focus shifts back to things like - if you are a teenager - school starting back up soon, summer jobs, college prep, relationship woes, etc. Often the lessons of camp become an event we experienced rather than a reality we live out every day. As we get older and (sadly) stop going to camp, we can still fall victim to this same reality. Instead of following a week-long event like camp, it follows our sacred Holy Days, especially Easter.
Easter, in the seasons of Church life, is set up to represent the triumph of God over all spiritual forces of darkness and their greatest weapon: death. We set up our services to reflect this truth, all the way to the flowering of the cross! Life wins. God is the Great Victor through the salvation given by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the grave. As Christians, that is wonderful news for us because we understand this work as precisely what brings us back into right relation with God – what restores our communion with Him. Not only that, but as Believers we have the gift of the Spirit, the very same Spirit that raised Christ from death is now alive in us! That is the ultimate message we celebrate on Easter – new life.
Many of us desire to see that resurrection power on display in our lives. We want to be made new, to see God move in a new way in our season of life. We believe the good He has in store for us is on the way – often in the form of lots of “yes” responses to our prayer requests. This is the “camp high.” With new life, though, comes a call to death.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NIV
Here Paul captures both life and death. For Christ to be alive in us, the best “yes” we could ever receive, we must die to ourselves. Jesus described this in Luke 9 as “taking up your cross daily.” Daily following. Daily allowing Him, in the language of the Psalmist, to search us and know our hearts. To bring to light any darkness in us. To empower us to step out of our own desires for self and into His good, pleasing, and perfect will for us. Death making room for Life.
Easter is becoming one of my favorite holidays. On it we stand together and say, “He is risen. He is risen, indeed!” The day after Easter, though, is just as important. On Sunday we say that we believe. On Monday we have a chance to show it - to show that this is more than a single moment for us. Monday, when the "real world” stands in our way, is our chance to show that the power of God’s radical love is radically changing and affecting every facet of our being. The flowers come down from the cross as we un-decorate, but new life is already blooming inside us. There is no power greater. Let us embrace new life by stepping out of – by dying to – anything in our life that is not Christ, our Greatest Good. - Jason Simon, Minister to Students