What letting go looks like

By Rev. Deb Stehlin

Have you recovered from your Holy-Week-into-Easter observance? If you’re leader in a congregation, you’ve probably preached, sang in the choir, and made sure there’s enough toilet paper in the restroom. Today, you might still feel like you’re walking through wet cement.

But it’s a good kind of tired, right?

Because Christ has risen! Christ has risen, indeed!

“What’s significant is the effect the resurrection has on people.

The way gospel writers tell it, the resurrected Jesus was hard to recognize. There was something different about him; and yet something the same.

Which leads us to wonder: What does resurrection look like?

 

I’LL TELL YOU WHAT it doesn’t look like: a butterfly. When people try to explain the resurrection by describing how a caterpillar goes into its cocoon and after a time emerges as something new, I want to scream, “The caterpillar did not die!” In my opinion, this absolutely falls short in helping us to comprehend resurrection. But in the absence of clear details, I sort of understand how the butterfly simile came to be. Sort of.

Here’s what I think – the witnesses to the resurrection have something more important for us to know than crystal-clear descriptions of the risen Jesus. What’s significant is the effect the resurrection has on people.

Mary Magdalene becomes the first apostle. Peter becomes a bold preacher. Communities form and live in the radical new way of Jesus. Stephen is not afraid to die.

Somehow, the resurrection of Jesus impelled people to take risks. Big ones.

“What does resurrection look like?”

In my work, I get to see the beautiful risks people are taking all the time. In just one week, here’s what I witnessed:

  • A church council and pastors work to let go of internal conflict to focus on mission in their neighborhood.
  • English-language learners and Spanish language-learners gather in a Richfield church basement to sing and build relationships.
  • Three rural congregations in the northern part of our synod gather for midweek Lent worship because they’re practicing what it might be like if they form a parish.
  • Philip’s in Fridley decides to generously share their space with a new synod ministry led by Pastor Nhiabee Vang that will reach out to Hmong people.

These brave ones are doing what the risen Jesus told his followers to do: Release the tight grip on what has been, and just let go — with a sense of wonder about what the living Christ will do next.