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Beginning again – in this moment

A Reflection for Resurrection Sunday by Rev. Dr. Laura Sumner Truax


Lectionary reading for 03/31/2024:  Acts 10:34-43 or Isaiah 25:6-9 • Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 • 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or Acts 10:34-43 • John 20:1-18. 

Selected passage for reflection: John 20:1-18.


Read


“Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.” John 20:1



A statue of Mary magdalene photographed at night
Weeping Mary, Photograph by Martin Gommel, 2006


Reflect 

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark…

With these words, the apostle John begins his narrative on the most astonishing story the world has ever heard: Jesus the Christ, the human god-man, is resurrected from the dead. Year after year I preached this profound message of hope and redemption. Death does not have the final word! Hallelujah, we proclaim, Christ has risen! 


The early hour, the setting of darkness on the first day of the week, these were background context. Rarely did I focus my study on this opening phrase, and never did I realize that every single gospel narrative finds it important to tell us it was the dawn of the first day of a new week. 


This year it occurred to me that I had been missing what was likely an early church understanding; they experienced Resurrection Sunday with the same energy, hope and anticipation we reserve for New Years Day. This was the first day of a brand new slate - teaming with possibilities, unencumbered by previous failures. This was a new reality unfolding by the minute. Who could say what might happen next? 


The old assumptions of how life went were no longer fixed. Their minds were blown. Their imaginations ignited. Everything had seemingly become new. 


There is a little story from the 4th century desert fathers that goes like this: Abba Moses asked Abba Silvanus, "Can a man lay a new foundation every day?" The old man replied, "If he works hard, he can lay a new foundation at every moment."


Did you catch that? We lay a new foundation at every moment not in what we promise ourselves we will do tomorrow, but on what we say and do right now. Those familiar with the Twelve-Step Program, already know this fundamental principle: It's not "I will never drink again." Rather, "Today I will not drink." It is the moment-by-moment reminder of the now.


"Continuously renewed immediacy, not a receding memory of the divine touch, lies at the basis of mature religious living," writes the contemporary Quaker mystic Thomas Kelly.


Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark…a tiny group of unschooled, unremarkable nobodies experienced the power of God. Moment by moment, they laid a new foundation by believing that power was at work in them too. 


Christ has risen. And we have too. Believe the good news.

Amen 



Respond 

Easter Sunday. The first day of a new year. Spend some time reflecting on what foundation God is asking you to lay. How could you practice building your foundation right now? In the present moment? Many have found meditation or contemplative prayer to be a powerful tool in building this awareness. Sitting quietly focusing only on the inhale and exhale of your breath is the beginning. Returning to the conviction that right now is the only moment you actually have. 


Rest 

Praise to you, Giver of Life. Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. As we stand in the shadow of the Risen Christ, we offer you this moment. This moment. This moment. 

This moment, we are yours. 

This moment, we pray our fears will not hold us back and that our ambitions will not push us forward. 

This moment, as we stand close, we feel your power flowing through us. 

Hold us in this moment, we pray. 

Amen and amen.


About the Author


Laura Sumner Truax is an author, pastor and spiritual director. Her doctoral work examined the spiritual practices of progressive evangelicals who have left their former churches. Laura facilitates an online meditation group at MeditationChapel.org, practicspiritual direction as an adjunct professor at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, and teaches through a variety of online and in person groups including the Olive Tree Community.  Follow her @freerangechristian4.

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