A Word From Our Bishop

On the fourth Sunday in Lent (March 27), the Bishop visited the Neepawa Anglica n- United Shared Ministry. In this screenshot from the YouTube recording of the service, the Bishop is pronouncing the absolution.

In the last month or two we have heard plenty about Ukraine and the battle that is raging there. We are fervently praying for peace. The bombs fall and armies posture and the people seem trapped between the proverbial rock and hard place. We have been praying regularly for the people of Ukraine, the people of Russia and for a change in the hearts of all those who have been drawn into this terrible tragedy of sin, war, and death. 

It is also the Easter season when we are meant to think long and hard about the new life which Jesus offers us in his resurrection. The question that haunts us is how do we get from here (our current world, rife with destruction and pain) to there (the kingdom of love and light which is promised to the children of God.) I want to remind you of some of that story from the garden on the morning when Jesus was raised. 

Mary did not recognize Jesus. It wasn’t until he said her name that her eyes were opened and she could see him. You have heard me say that the resurrection to eternal life is the offering of Jesus to each of us, but one of the details we often forget is that resurrected life is not easily recognizable. Mary Magdalene did not recognize him, even though she had sat at table and served him. The disciples on the road to Emmaus did not 

recognize him until he broke the bread in front of them. There is something about resurrected life which leaves us baffled when it is observed from this side of death. 

Jesus kept teaching over and over again that our resurrected life is as different from the life we know now, as the seed is different from the full grown plant. In honour of Ukraine, I will use their sunflower as my illustration. We all recognize sunflower seeds. I have happy memories of eating bagfuls as a child and enjoying spitting contests with my friends with the shells. A sunflower seed is delicious as a snack, as a garnish on a salad or all alone by itself, roasted or plain. But looking at a sunflower seed does not in the least hint at the height and beauty and strength of the full grown plant. Only when I see the full flower standing tall, do I see the small part that the seed is of the whole. There is so much more to the picture. 

Our lives are like the sunflower seeds. They have a purpose and delight, but God has so much more planned for us that our hearts can barely perceive what God is up to. The new life will be glorious and it will be a profound change and that new life will be a great mystery, but who we already are will still be there, in the middle of that resurrected life, except we will be so much more than we have been. The tiny seed that was us in this world will be fully present. We cannot know the height and beauty and strength of the resurrected life we will occupy in that new, deathless, and resurrected life to come. 

That is how I maintain hope in the between time of here and there. I know that we are called to live faithfully in the here, caring for one another and working for the broken and the lost. But at the same time, the way to there is to see in every broken human, in every person in need, and in every circumstance of life the seed of what is to come when God gathers all of us to himself. That is how I live between here and there; between what I see now and what I know is coming. 

So for this Easter season, have a thought about the process of getting from here to there. Think about the ways we will carry who we are into death and then into that new and deathless life. This is what it means to be in the resurrected world. To know that we are seeds of something so much bigger, stronger and more beautiful than who were are now – even when who we are now is beloved of God. You will always be you, but you will also be so much more. 

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