Our greatest reassurance lies in our faith and confidence in the resurrection of the dead and, specifically, the resurrection of Christ Jesus. Resurrection overpowers all the negativity that weaves through this week’s scriptures—woes, curses, wickedness, perversity, deviousness, sinfulness, scoffing, diseases, unclean spirits—and what I’ve called tragedies, wounds, and the sins that arise from them. The Resurrection promises that we can be redeemed, that we can be made righteous, that we can delight in God.
What are we to do with the promise that we can be redeemed? Reading these scriptures together with the teachings in two of Wagamese’s many books of Ojibway fiction, we find some answers. Keeper’n Me ends with a feast to celebrate Garnet Raven. Ninety-four-year-old Old Lazarus, one of the last of the medicine men from a nearby reserve, arrives. When he shakes hands with Garnet, Garnet feels power go out from Old Lazarus. Old Lazarus truly is a spiritual man. The book ends with Keeper deepening his search by apprenticing himself to Old Lazarus. Through Keeper, Old Lazarus will also be Garnet Raven’s guide. At the end of Indian Horse, Saul, who could have been and could still be a great hockey player, chooses to settle with his adoptive family and to coach younger boys, who, like himself, need a role model. One book shows us a response to healing as a search for further piety; the other, a call to offer mercy.
The promise of resurrection and redemption turns an ending into a beginning. It becomes the ground from which our actions of piety and mercy spring. The promise provides a moment of rest from struggle on our journey, a moment of happiness in which we can revel. But before we become self-righteous, these scriptures return, calling us again to self-examination.
Thank you, God, for moments of peace and reassurance. May they inspire my relationship with you and humankind. Amen.
God wants us to be rooted firmly in our faith. Jeremiah contrasts those who put their trust in themselves with those who trust in God. The latter are like healthy trees with deep roots and a constant water supply, never in danger of drying up or dying. The psalmist uses the same image to describe those who meditate on God’s teachings. Thus, as you do these daily readings and reflect on them, you are sinking deep roots into fertile soil. Agricultural imagery is continued in Paul’s letter. Paul describes Jesus Christ risen in the flesh as the first fruit, meaning that he is the first of many who will be resurrected. In Luke’s version of the Beatitudes, worldly success is not necessarily an indication of God’s blessing.
Read Jeremiah 17:5-10. Examine your heart. Do you place your trust in “mere mortals” or in the Lord?
Read Psalm 1. How do you seek to meditate on God’s word day and night?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-20. How has your understanding of the resurrection of the dead changed your living?
Read Luke 6:17-26. How do you hold together the paradoxes of Jesus’ blessings and woes?
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