Still We Rise

For the next 50 days we will be in the season of Easter. And you thought Easter was over after we all went home from a fabulous Easter service and had our Easter dinner. No, resurrection is just beginning! It’s interesting to note that the Easter season is longer than Lent by ten days. Maybe that’s to remind us that life is stronger than death, love is stronger than hate, and forgiveness is stronger than revenge. While it’s important to acknowledge the seriousness of sin in our lives and our world, it’s more important to experience life and the power of the Risen Christ in our inmost being and in our world.

The late Maya Angelou, poet and person extraordinaire, wrote a beautiful poem called Still I Rise. It’s an amazing recitation of the resilience of the human spirit. Listen to her share it.

Her poem reminds me of how many people we had given up for dead, but still they rise. I have a clergy colleague who was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer on Good Friday three years ago. Against all odds, the tumors have begun to shrink and she’s still alive. We all have experienced death’s in our lives–the end of a relationship that we still can’t wrap our head’s around, the end of a job, good health, a bankruptcy, and dashed hopes and dreams. But still we rise.

This is the real message of Easter. It wasn’t just about the resurrection of Jesus, but it’s about our continuing resurrection. If resurrection is only about getting a voucher to enter heaven after we die, then what’s it got to do with today?  For me the “proof” of the resurrection, if you will, is when I see Christ alive in people of faith.

I have seen it in people who struggle to forgive even those who have done horrible things to them. I have seen it in people who have changed careers from simply making a living to making a life. I have seen it in couples who have worked through tough issues to rediscover love. I have seen it in communities that go to far away places to build houses, make bunk beds, and feed and shelter hungry people. That’s when resurrection shows up.

Yes, we all have faced death in one form or another, and we will all face it again. It is a nasty thing. Paul calls it the last enemy. It’s last because it doesn’t have the last say. As people of resurrection, we live our entire lives facing toward morning and the sunrise. Night may come, but, like the sun, still we rise. As St. Augustine put it, “We are Easter people and alleluia is our song!”

About Norman Bendroth

Norman Bendroth is a Professional Transition Specialist certified by the Interim Ministry Network. He has served as a settled pastor in two United Church of Christ congregations and as a Sr. Interim pastor in seven other UCC congregations. He was also an executive for three different non-profit agencies. He has had additional training in Mediation Skills for Church Leaders from the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center and training in Appreciative Inquiry from the Clergy Leadership Institute. Rev. Bendroth has the M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and his D. Min. from Andover Newton Theological school where he concentrated on theology and systems theory. He is married to Peggy Bendroth and has two adopted Amerasian children.
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