What is happening in your life right now? Are you in a happy routine of family, work and friends? Are you experiencing a period of upheaval, such as new health crisis or a major job transition? Are you in the exciting initial stages of a new relationship? Or are you in a period of grief because someone you loved has died? Life is not static. As cliché as it may sound, life is full of ups and downs as well as plateaus. One thing we can always count on is that no matter where we are, for good or bad, it won’t always be that way.
The cycle of life is part of what it means to be a human being. Just as the flowers in our backyard will spout buds, bloom and then die, we all go through birth, life and death with all of the drama and joy and despair that goes along with it. That is “natural life” and it can be hard because natural life always ends in death. But resurrection life is different. When Jesus appeared to Mary
Magdalene and announced that he was “ascending to the Father” he introduced eternal life. Often, we picture eternal life as a place we go after we die, where we will live on a cushy cloud way up high, and where harps play and all our loved ones who have also died will congregate and we will do heavenly things like eating wonderful food without gaining weight or always getting to sleep in late. And maybe heaven will be like that (fingers crossed) but that is not necessarily what eternal life means.
Eternal life is life without “Death with a capital D.” Thomas Long described Death as “[a] mythic force…the enemy of all that God wills for life.” This kind of Death is all around us in the world ready to tell us that we should grab for all the money and power we can because there is no goodness in creation, only pleasure. Death tells us that relationships are disposable, selfish acts will satisfy our desires, and
that hate is a sentiment that will sustain us. Simply put, Death tells us we are not children of God but that we are gods ourselves. This is what Jesus conquered through the cross, and his victory is available for us to claim anytime and anyplace.
We are in the season of Eastertide. And while we celebrate the resurrection every Sunday, during Eastertide we remember very intently that Christ has defeated Death and so eternal life is available to us now and forever. And as we live this resurrection life, we discover glimpses of the promise of eternal life, here and now. And eternal life accompanies us no matter where we are in the cycle of life, whether we are caught up in the highs of romantic love or we have plunged into the despair of excruciating grief. Because of Jesus, eternal life is available to everyone who would receive it. Thanks be to God.