If you've ever taken a creative writing class, you know that oftentimes one of the very first assignments is to practice writing haiku.
Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry that is distinguished by its brevity. In order for a poem to be haiku, it has to have exactly seventeen syllables divided into three lines of five, seven and five.
Here's a quick example: Love is not complex. It demands an absent mind. And a present heart.
The beauty of haiku is that it invites us to fit an entire storyline into those seventeen brief syllables. Anything that isn't central to the narrative gets left in the wastebasket. We Christians tend to make our theology so wordy and complicated that we forget that our faith is grounded in its own seventeen syllable statement of faith. Jesus is risen! The world is made new again. Go, share the story.
There are some 31,000 verses in the Bible, but not one of them has any relevance to us without those first five syllables. Jesus is risen!
These words are present at the baptism of children. They're whispered to the elderly in hospice. They're proclaimed at the gravesites of our loved ones in the very same breath as the words ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
We experience resurrection in our lives every day. We can see with our own eyes that the world is made new again. All we have to do is look around and ask, "Where is the risen Christ choosing to serve us today?"
Are there moments when we feel as if we are sealed in a tomb with no hope of ever clawing our way to freedom by ourselves?
Are we grieving the loss of a loved one, or shaken by the results of an MRI?
Are we feeling rejected because of our disability, unwanted because of our addiction, or scorned because of who we love?
Is there a place deep within where grief and sorrow are so entrenched that it seems pointless to even dream of a life of abundance and peace?
These are the very situations that God enters into in order to transform the pallor of death into the joy of life. Resurrection is nothing less than God's relentless love for this world being created and re-created within us. We know that Christ was raised from the tomb, and we know that resurrection is real, because it is found at the very core of our human experience.
In response, we are invited to go out and live this daily gift of resurrection each time we step into our community. What were the last five syllables of that little haiku? Remember?
Go, share the story. As disciples of a risen Christ we have an amazing story to share. God so loves this world that he came to live in relationship with us, to share in our joys and to hold us in our sorrows.
God humbled God's self and poured out his life out of love for all creation. And when it was finished and Jesus lay dead in a sealed tomb, God chose to do what we ourselves would never lower ourselves to do. God chose to continue living in relationship with this violent and unforgiving world.
Instead of death, God chose resurrection, and with it the sure promise of eternal life.
My prayer this day is that we will embrace the resurrection taking place within us, through us, and around us, and that we will live out the joy of the empty tomb with all who seek to hold the hand of God. Amen.
"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.