04/4/21 1 Corinthians 15:55 O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Easter is a time of renewal. The earth seems to be coming alive with bugs and birds and buds and birth. Last week we looked at some of the lessons of Palm Sunday: to come to God just as we are and do what we can. On Easter Sunday, we see the fulfillment of that attitude as it gives way to the renewal and rebirth of our spiritual nature. There are three stages in life: 1.) Our potential. We are born because God wants us here, and He has purpose for us. We have a potential that is exceedingly great; that is what Palm Sunday alludes to. If we choose to develop and fulfill that potential, we allow ourselves to be the greatest vehicle through which God can express into His Creation. We realize our potential only when we allow ourselves to dream and utilize our infinite imaginations to consider the possibilities for our lives. It is in the pursuits of these goals and dreams that we become all that we can be. 2.) The Struggle. There must be struggle along the way. It is through the challenges that we grow. The stronger the adversary, the greater our opportunity to overcome. The chick develops the energy to live by pecking its way out of its shell. The caterpillar’s struggle to free itself from its cocoon is what forces the blood into its wings so that it can fly. It is through the testing that we develop the strength and faith to complete God’s will on the journey. 3.) The Victory. As we develop our potential through the help of our struggles, we finally reach a point where we have victory: the attainment of the dream or vision, the fulfillment of our potential. The life of Jesus illustrates this cyclical law of life: birth, struggle and victory and rebirth. Traditionally, Easter Sunday shows us that although Jesus died on the cross, he rose from the tomb to give us hope that life is eternal, that victory is possible. But victory and rebirth come with a price. Crucifixion was the price Jesus had to pay for his resurrection. This journey, although brutal, is perfect completion. Part of Christ’s vision was to teach us that we are unlimited children of God. He accepted the hardest of all deaths so that we could learn by his example. We are not the body; we are not of this earth. We are spiritual beings. Christ Jesus represents the utmost realization of what we can be: the fulfilled potential, the total oneness and integration of our human and spiritual natures. Imagine for a moment: To see things as God would see them; respond as God would respond; act as how God would act. A far cry from where I am right now. But God nudges us, pulls us forward, encourages us to take one more step in seeing our potential. If we cannot see where we are, in contrast to where and what we could be, then we will not move towards it. The easiest way for God to communicate our potential to us is through our imaginations – our dreams, desires, and goals. That is God showing us what we can be. As soon as we see this potential, recognize it, and move toward it, we encounter resistance, and the struggle begins. Remember, it will always happen, and it is supposed to happen. It is not an accident or a cruel plan by God. It is perfection. Sadly, many people are ignorant of this. They begin a journey and as soon as it gets difficult, they rationalize quitting by saying that God doesn’t want me to pursue this course because there are obstacles in the way. But this is part of the process, part of our journey. We can’t hold back, waiting to move on God’s dreams only when we think we are ready – when we have the skills, the knowledge, and the resources. No … it is through the obstacles that we develop the strength and skills to achieve the dream. There cannot be an Easter without a Good Friday. The obstacles we encounter can be looked upon as our crucifixion. Nothing as horrific as what Jesus had to endure, but still, painful enough in their own ways. Ironically, most of the chains that hold us back from reaching our victory are self-imposed. They are thoughts of lack, loss, and inability. Sometimes we listen to people who are under qualified to give us advice, but we listen anyways. We can easily find ourselves in a spiritual prison cell, with bars of fears and walls of misperception – old beliefs and thought patterns that are no longer valid or useful. So how do we escape? One clue is to observe who was with Jesus at his death. At the foot of Jesus’ cross sat his mother, Mary. Peter was also there. Mary represents our soul nature, or intuition. Peter represents Faith. Symbolically then, our struggles are being supported by our Faith and our intuition. At one point, Jesus says to Peter, “Behold your Mother; behold your son.” This can mean that our intuition and faith become one. We are to trust our own inner voice, the feelings and thoughts that we have in our inner God-place. Others were also present at the cross. Mary Magdalene, who represents constancy and faithful attachment, and Salome, who represents the soul clothed in wholeness, soundness, love, and peace. Through them we start to understand that even during our struggles, we must remain faithful and constant to the idea that we are whole, sound and in perfect order with God’s vision for us. We practice our faith and listen for the inner guidance that comes from within, and we accept God’s words into our hearts. Only then will we see past the prison bars that we create in our minds. Remember, the struggle is there not to stop us, but to make us aware, more in tune, stronger, smarter, more able, and willing. We understand, that like the Christ spirit within us, we can never be separated from God. It is our ignorance and ego that perpetuates the idea of separation. Spiritual ignorance lies deep within a person; it is an attitude, a willingness to turn our face away from the Creator, away from the light that dares to shine through us. Often, we are not even conscious of this shift away from God. We can only hope for perfect reunification after we realize that we have ignored God’s Presence. But how do we move from our deeply engrained survival thinking to our higher awareness? We allow the Christ within to once again breathe the Holy Spirit into our hearts. We accept the love from God and understand that we can never be separate from Spirit. It is the message that Christ came to share. Even in our trials we are not separate from God; we cannot be. We, our true selves, who we truly are, cannot be destroyed … not by death, pain, struggle, or willingly turning our face away from God … we cannot be separated from God. Despite our challenges, victimhood remains our choice; persecution is a choice. Jesus suffered the crucifixion, and we suffer our own crucifixions. We are not nailed to a cross, but we crucify ourselves with self-contempt, self-condemnation, and unforgiveness. We get overwhelmed; we allow judgment, criticism, resentments, insults to crucify us. We allow this persecution to disable us, and we stay a victim by choice. Although he hung on a cross, Jesus still did not choose persecution. Those are our judgments as to what was happening to him. His body was definitely tortured, but HE was unaffected; he was beyond anything the world could do to him. That is what is meant by the ancient hymn, “He trampled over death by death” – in dying he demonstrated mastery over death and although the body may expire, the spirit cannot; although the lamp may fall and break, the Light cannot be extinguished. Through love alone we gather up all the corners of the trials we endure and tuck them neatly into a perfect wholeness. That is what the resurrection means to us. We are not our deficiencies; Christ calls our name, whispers to our hearts, and helps us rise above our challenges, and through love turns our stumbles and bumbling efforts into something miraculous. Once we understand the truth about ourselves – that we cannot be separated from God and that Christ within is trying to express through us fully – then we no longer look upon ourselves as unworthy victims. We are whole and every part of us is useful for God’s expression. The story of Christ Jesus teaches us that there truly is no death; the body may succumb, but Spirit persists. And more than that, Christ within us persists, pulling us, guiding us ever onward – daring us to shine our Light of Love onto every soul we meet; renewing our attitudes and thoughts; giving us the courage to face our trials from God’s perspective; empowering us to serve in new ways, and compelling us to move forward, unwavering in our conviction toward the dreams God has placed upon our hearts.
Christ demonstrated that we are more than a mere body, and through Christ we can be victorious over the struggles, challenges and obstacles we now face. We can break the bonds, not just of death, but of the fears, limitations, misconceptions, and half-truths the world uses to imprison us. For in truth, we are more than we think we are. We are children of God, and more; we hold within us the power to overcome anything we face, and more. We are beyond scientific measurement, for science does not yet dwell in the levels of Spirit. Christ urges us to remain faithful, constant, and determined to attain our victory. We were made Champions, Achievers, and Overcomers. We are born on earth to glow, shine, to carry Christ’s Light. We are here to learn, transform, and be God’s dream that is us. I pray that on this Easter we celebrate the renewing of life and allow the triumphant Christ to rise within us as we rise in the renewed awakening. May we find Spirit’s expression of peace, love, power, and joy through Easter both in the contemplation of Christ as well as when we bite off the heads of those chocolate marshmallow-filled Easter bunnies. I wish you all a Happy Easter!