Thursday, April 13, 2017

New Life

This Sunday we celebrate the foundation of our faith which is Easter or as some refer to it, Resurrection Day. It is the day when we acknowledge that Jesus Christ rose from the dead after His crucifixion and three days in the tomb. His disciples had been scattered after His death and had lost all hope of anything ever being different in their lives. However, Jesus appearance to His disciples after He rose changed everything! As I was meditating on the idea of Jesus' resurrection infusing us with the spiritual hope of new life in Him, I was reflecting on a recent health crisis of a brother in Christ whose infusion of new life changed everything. For the sake of privacy I will call this brother, Sam. Sam had been having some trouble with his blood count for awhile and doctors were monitoring him closely. Finally, in January of 2017, Sam was diagnosed with leukemia. The medical plan was for Sam to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatments to stabilize his cell count and bring him to a point of remission. Once remission was achieved, Sam was to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Sam, communicated his progress via e-mail to those who knew him well. The chemotherapy and radiation took its toll on Sam's body and he was praying that the treatment would be successful enough to move on to his bone marrow transplant. If the initial round of treatment failed to achieve remission, Sam would have to undergo another round of chemotherapy and radiation. By God's grace, the first round of treatment was successful. Sam achieved remission and underwent his bone marrow transplant in March. The transplant required that all of Sam's existing bone marrow be destroyed rendering his immune system non-existent. The new bone marrow would then be transplanted into his body with the expectation that it would regenerate and rebuild his body with healthy new blood cells. He would have to remain hospitalized to avoid coming into contact with any germs. Visitors would also have to be healthy and wear protective clothing and a mask. I sent Sam an e-mail describing what he experienced as a small "resurrection." Sam had hope that he would be able to get well but he expressed some uncertainty that the treatments would be successful. The chemotherapy and radiation coupled with the destruction of his bone marrow brought Sam to the point of death. His only hope was the new life that this bone marrow transplant promised to bring. The infusion of this new life, figuratively speaking, raised Sam from the dead. What a blessed Easter gift from the Lord! All around us new life is taking place as we step into spring. At our bird house attached to our deck, a male sparrow has been courting females for a few weeks seeking a "bride" who would share with him in creating new life. The sparrow finally found a willing partner and the two birds have begun building their nest. We as followers of Jesus Christ are called His "bride" and He is seeking those who would willingly join with Him in experiencing the new life He promised and with which He wants to infuse us through the shedding of His blood. Isaiah tells us, "I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels." (Isaiah 61:10) We have much to rejoice in this Easter. I encourage you to enter in, commit to following Him, and celebrate the new life that is yours because of Christ's resurrection. There is an Easter tradition commonly found in the Eastern Orthodox church. It is called the Paschal Greeting or the Easter Acclamation. It is based on the story in Luke 24 when two men encountered Jesus on the Road to Emmaus. After revealing Himself to the two men, they return to Jerusalem and find the eleven disciples. The two men then declared to the disciples, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." (Luke 24:34) The traditional Easter greeting involves one person declaring, "Christ is risen!" The response declares, "He is risen indeed!" I invite you to greet one another this Easter with all the joy and hope that this Paschal Greeting brings for CHRIST IS RISEN!
Pastor Sheree