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From death to life

I wrote this reflection for a community that I was once immersed in and that played a formational role in my life. The lenten lectionary does not hold the most comfortable passages or messages! Repent, fast, mourn!

This reflection is on Romans 6:1-11. It is purely reflective as I have not had time to turn to commentaries and writers as I like to do. Still, I hope there is a nugget of truth in it all the same.

Many recent conversations have held a common theme: death comes before true life. So often we want to experience the fruits of life without the struggles that produce them. We want to experience the resurrection without the cross. Last year, this became very apparent to me as many of us in the community chose to mark Holy Saturday – the day in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday – with a prayerful and reflective silence. This silence was most uncomfortable. The temptation to move beyond this place of discomfort to the hopefulness of Christ being risen was strong. And yet, it was through sitting with the discomfort that I was taught lessons that are still helpful today.
 
This is true of so much of life. Healing frequently requires struggling in the mire and clay first. The pain of labour is endured before a child is born. A tree’s branches are cut back in order to increase its fruitfulness. The Christ we follow was crucified before he was risen.
 
In the Romans passage we read today, we are boldly told of the death each of us are to face – the death to sin. If there was every an uncomfortable message – this is one! It is death to the ways we cling so strongly to. It is surrendering everything that stands before our relationship with God. Like death, it is painful and frankly, not a whole lot of fun.
 
But the freedom through this death is beyond any freedom that the ways of the world can bring. As we shed those things that have a grip on us and come between us and God, we begin to realize how much of our lives have been lived in bondage to ‘idols’ that we make. We begin to see how we order our lives in allegiance to the things that we have made gods for ourselves. And as we die to this, our bondage dies as well and we discover a life that those gods could never give us. Through death, we find life. And in this new life, we find the freedom of being who we are meant to be – more fully ourselves.
 
May we, in these last couple of weeks before we celebrate our risen Lord, sit with the discomfort of dying to ourselves and those things that bind our hearts in slavery.
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