by Rev. Don Underwood, Senior Pastor at Christ UMC in Plano, TX
Easter comes late this year. April 21 to be exact. But it is not too late to be thinking about the resurrection. Additionally, it is part of our great worship tradition that every Sunday is a mini-Easter celebration of the powerful presence of the risen Christ. That is why we do not fast, even during Lent, on Sundays.
We need a good resurrection story right now because those of us who are United Methodists feel a little like it is Friday rather than Sunday. This is not because one group prevailed and another didn’t at a church meeting. We are, after all, United Methodists. We meet every now and then, in our congregations and annual conferences and general conferences, to take a vote. Some prevail, some don’t. We understand that. It is business as usual.
But the recent General Conference in St. Louis left us all – dare I say all? – feeling somewhat defeated and depressed. Not because one side prevailed and another side didn’t, but because there is this sense that the denominational structure we have depended upon – what we call “the connection” – is falling in on itself, imploding right before our very eyes. We somehow understand that things will never be quite the same.
Today I slipped off to the ranch to feed some cows that had been neglected while I was in St. Louis. Traveling the back roads, I noticed the green wheat emerging from the black soil. I am always amazed by the thought of what is taking place deep in the cold, black earth: the churning, the striving, the birthing of new life. We can’t yet see it fully, but we know it is waiting for us.
In only a few weeks a glorious landscape will emerge from the tomb of winter. We will then perceive the blooming of trees and wildflowers, the spring smells of a countryside that is awakening to new life, the transformation of dormant pastures into green carpets, and of green wheat into amber waves of grain. And it will happen whether we like it or not, because it belongs to God and it comes from God. Resurrection is inevitable.
Out of the ruins of the 2019 General Conference God is doing a new thing. It is about life and not death. It is about love and not hate or exclusion. It is about the pain of the cross leading to the joy of an empty tomb. It is about God’s grace and love and goodness that cannot be stopped.
Here, on the front door of our season of Lent, I take just a moment to remind us all that Easter is coming.