Even though we’ve moved around a lot, we keep some things close. These items are packed and unpacked without negotiation, because the truth is they’re like old friends, our favorite walking boots that cradle our feet and never rub, or a pair of relaxed jeans that fit perfectly. There’s something comforting about knowing that we can still pull these things out when we feel the need.
Our well-worn game of Scrabble keeps traveling with us. Amazingly enough, when I think about it, I’ve been playing Scrabble on and off for something like 40 years, and it still has the power to fascinate me. Ironically, I’m actually an awful player. I enjoy the words so much I’m not really interested in scoring points! It’s the words that captivate and draw me in, just like a good book. We all have our own ideas, but to me a good book is one that fires up my imagination from the opening paragraphs, and burns passionately through to the last page. It engages all my senses, and takes me to new and wondrous places and spaces. The power of words has limitless possibilities and endless promise. The power of the Word, Jesus Christ, goes beyond all we that we can grasp in this life.
Welcome to the great 50 days of Easter. This is when we celebrate the most talked about event in human history: The resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Words of many colors and hues have been spilled across the pages of time in humanity’s efforts to explain (or explain away) the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are words of fiery denial and angry refutation, with plenty of heat, but no warmth in them.
On the other hand, there are many voices proclaiming gentle faith, and releasing words of hope. Perhaps it’s true that the most powerful words are, and will remain, wrapped in mystery. Who among us can claim to fully understand Jesus? What about His heart so full of divine love, that He willingly surrenders to the injustice of false accusations, and accepts death on a cross? How can God show us that our sinfulness leads to death, and then send His own Son, Jesus, to give life to the whole world, and eternal life to all who believe in Him? Can we spell mystery? Can we understand God’s mercy, justice and compassion revealed in His plan of salvation? It will take each of us a lifetime to even begin to fathom this enigma.
In Scrabble the word “faith” accrues just eleven points at face value. It’s a good job that God doesn’t keep score like we do in a game of Scrabble! When it comes to a life of faith, and faithful living, we have to jump in and start working out the mysteries of God’s wisdom. Life isn’t about scoring points for ourselves, or scoring points off others. If I may be so bold, life is about building relationships. It’s about accepting and sharing the gifts of healing and forgiveness. It’s about the power of Jesus to give new and unending life, to save us from ourselves, to show us how to love God and others extravagantly and abundantly. Real life – life in Christ – is inexplicable transformation, radical realignment, a place of peace, many shades of hope, and a vast ocean of freedom. Life in Christ is an invisible bond that transcends all worldly power, stronger than any force of nature, or any human-made device.
When we accept the gift of faith in Christ, we’re caught up in a stream of life extending beyond time and into eternity. Whenever we dive into God’s Word, we unpack new discoveries about life. In God’s living Word, we’re always close to life, wherever we find ourselves on this little planet called earth, and whatever we’re facing in that slice of our lives.
I know that you have even more words to add, countless beautiful words: Some of doubt or questions, some of comfort, and some that draw irresistible pictures of indescribable love. Jesus is the Word beyond all our words, our alpha and our omega, the One who has no beginning, and no end. May the words that grow into the book of our lives shout a bold, “Alleluia! Jesus lives!” May that truth be engraved on our hearts. May we always live it, even if we sometimes feel that we’re scrabbling around to find solid ground, or a new way of being. A blessed Easter to all!
• The Rev. Susan E. Wilmot is Priest-in-Charge at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church & Preschool, 975 E. Warner Road, Tempe. Susan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 480-345-2686. Check out our website at www.stjamestempe.org.