Tag Archives: resurrection

15 Apr, Sunday – Out Of Ashes

15 Apr – Third Sunday of Easter

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Acts 3:13-15,17-19

Peter said to the people: ‘You are Israelites, and it is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, who has glorified his servant Jesus, the same Jesus you handed over and then disowned in the presence of Pilate after Pilate had decided to release him. It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life. God, however, raised him from the dead, and to that fact we are the witnesses.

‘Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing; this was the way God carried out what he had foretold, when he said through all his prophets that his Christ would suffer. Now you must repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.’

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1 John 2:1-5

I am writing this, my children,
to stop you sinning;
but if anyone should sin,
we have our advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice that takes our sins away,
and not only ours,
but the whole world’s.

We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says, ‘I know him’,
and does not keep his commandments,
is a liar,
refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said,
God’s love comes to perfection in him.

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Luke 24:35-48

The disciples told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised Jesus at the breaking of bread.

They were still talking about all this when Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’ In a state of alarm and fright, they thought they were seeing a ghost. But he said, ‘Why are you so agitated, and why are these doubts rising in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; yes, it is I indeed. Touch me and see for yourselves; a ghost has no flesh and bones as you can see I have.’ And as he said this he showed them his hands and feet. Their joy was so great that they still could not believe it, and they stood there dumbfounded; so he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ And they offered him a piece of grilled fish, which he took and ate before their eyes.

Then he told them, ‘This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled.’ He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.’

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“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name…”

We have survived Lent, we have carried our own crosses for 40 days, we have fasted and abstained. We have confessed, repented, and we have celebrated the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. We are also lucky. We have the benefit of hindsight of more than two thousand years to reflect on the resurrection and what it means to us. We are able to do a ‘post-resurrection review’ (for lack of a better term), at least to a much better extent than the early followers of Christ.

Those who had witnessed the cruelty meted out to Christ at the hands of his captors, followed by his crucifixion, would no less be confused, doubtful and afraid. Had this man really been the Messiah as people said he was, in which case why then did God let these things happen to him? If Jesus could raise the dead and heal the blind, why then could he not send down a bolt of lightning to silence his captors and angels to free him from the cross? The soldiers at the foot of the cross mocked Jesus, asking him to save himself. Perhaps they were expecting a miracle to happen, not realizing that they would soon be witness to one.

We know now that all these things had to happen for God’s plan to materialize. The resurrection of Christ is a metaphor of our own struggles in life. Whatever demons we are fighting within ourselves, they are constantly taunting us to save ourselves, telling us that if we can’t, then we are weak. But the thing is, we can’t save ourselves. We can’t do it alone. We need God to help us, we need to depend on God for the emancipation from our struggles. We think we can do it alone and probably, to a certain extent, we could; but at some point, we will hit a roadblock and exhaust our own capabilities. We crash and burn and at our rope’s end, that is where the miracle happens — out of the ashes of our old selves, a new us is reborn in Jesus Christ our Lord.

“Out of ashes into freedom, out of dying into life,” sings Steve Green in his song “Out of Ashes”. We ‘die’ to our old selves, not only during Easter when we renew our baptism vows, but every single day that we surrender to God for help. We die to stubbornness, we die to pride, we die to addiction, to lust, to unfaithfulness. We die to the self that God abhors and in its place – in the name of forgiveness, mercy and love – He transforms us into an image more like Him, every day. He frees us to love and to live our best selves. This is all part of our transformation. It is hard. It is painful. But through fire we are tested, and we emerge on the other end victorious and full of grace.

Out of the ashes He is risen! And so are we. Like a phoenix, we must first burn to rise again. Out of the ashes, we are entwined with Christ in His resurrection. Let us celebrate our renewal and our rebirth into freedom.

(Today’s Oxygen by Annette Soo)

Prayer: We pray O Lord, for the strength, obedience, and willingness to surrender to God the transformation of our lives according to His plan for us.

Thanksgiving: Thanks be to God, for the risen Christ and for our own rising from our ashes!

5 June, Sunday – Conversions and Resurrections

5 June 

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1 Kings 17:17-24

The son of the mistress of the house fell sick; his illness was so severe that in the end he had no breath left in him. And the woman said to Elijah, ‘What quarrel have you with me, man of God? Have you come here to bring my sins home to me and to kill my son?’ ‘Give me your son’ he said, and taking him from her lap, carried him to the upper room where he was staying and laid him on his own bed. He cried out to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, do you mean to bring grief to the widow who is looking after me by killing her son?’ He stretched himself on the child three times and cried out to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, may the soul of this child, I beg you, come into him again!’ The Lord heard the prayer of Elijah and the soul of the child returned to him again and he revived. Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. ‘Look,’ Elijah said ‘your son is alive.’ And the woman replied, ‘Now I know you are a man of God and the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth itself.’

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Galatians 1:11-1

The Good News I preached is not a human message that I was given by men, it is something I learnt only through a revelation of Jesus Christ. You must have heard of my career as a practising Jew, how merciless I was in persecuting the Church of God, how much damage I did to it, how I stood out among other Jews of my generation, and how enthusiastic I was for the traditions of my ancestors.
Then God, who had specially chosen me while I was still in my mother’s womb, called me through his grace and chose to reveal his Son in me, so that I might preach the Good News about him to the pagans. I did not stop to discuss this with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were already apostles before me, but I went off to Arabia at once and later went straight back from there to Damascus. Even when after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him for fifteen days, I did not see any of the other apostles; I only saw James, the brother of the Lord.

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Luke 7:11-17

Jesus went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people. When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. ‘Do not cry’ he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you to get up.’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying, ‘A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.’ And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over the countryside.

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“Young man, I tell you arise!”

I love a good comeback story! Who doesn’t see in himself the hero of his own tragicomedy? The failed, flawed individual ever optimistic, always on the verge of a comeback. We want to succeed. To claim greatness.  We want to recognize that same yearning and struggle in someone else. So with indefatigable optimism, we cheer him and ourselves on.

Scripture is filled with comeback stories. One of its brightest has to be Paul. Paul, the Christian slayer, the zealot Jew. Filled with high-minded wrath and fury, Paul is struck down on the road to Damascus.  He loses his sight, but learns to see with his heart. Conversion is a lot like resurrection. Paul does a complete about-face after meeting Jesus, and switches sides.  Proving that you can be at once, a hero and a traitor.  Be vilified by your old friends, and embraced by your new ones. With Christ, one really can lose one’s life and gain another.

And that’s the visual in today’s readings – the parallel between resurrection and conversion. “Young man, I tell you arise!”, says Jesus to the dead man. “Let the life breath return to the body of this child”, says Elijah to the dead boy. Modern day resurrections lack the drama of the stories in scripture, but they’re no less meaningful. Change happens, in incremental steps perhaps, but it does happen. Living in Christ, we’re more aware, more mindful of things that would never have occurred to us before. We no longer see with just our eyes, but through the prism of hearts renewed.  Hearts lifted up by his Hand.

(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for all those who have taken the sacraments of baptism and confirmation this Easter, that their journeys continue with courage and grace.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all those who work to help new Christians find their faith. Taking the first step is hard, staying on the path is even harder. We give thanks for all those who help us to keep to the narrow road.