For how many people does getting up out of bed in the morning hurt? I thought there might be a few of us. But old folks aren’t the only ones, right? Up until three weeks ago I carried a twenty-pound child in a twelve-pound carrier about a foot and a half away from my body. My back still hurts.
Maybe you had a long day at work and your feet hurt. Maybe you were at a soccer tournament all day and your whole body aches. But I reckon everyone knows the feeling of waking up and hurting getting out of bed. Maybe you’ve been in a car accident and know that feeling well from the next few weeks. Maybe your hurts aren’t physical, but you still know pain each time you lift yourself up out of bed.
And if this is what we feel from our daily lives, I think we can only imagine what Jesus felt like when he woke up this morning, 2,000 years ago. He had been whipped and beaten, carried a heavy cross until he could bear it no more, and been crucified, which is a painful torture of muscular exhaustion.
Can you imagine what it felt like to first draw breath? I cannot imagine that it didn’t hurt. His lungs must have felt like fire. His whole body must have been sore. He reached down to his side, and his hands, and, well they must have hurt too. For whatever reason, his wounds were not healed when he rose that Easter morning. We know that because Thomas stuck his fingers and hand in them a week later.
I’ve been thinking about how that first breath might have felt because I’ve had some times this past year where it hurt to take a breath. Maybe you have too.
And it called to mind a book my brother gave me for Christmas two years ago, a book of devotions by John Donne. Donne is famous as a poet and contemporary of Shakespeare. He later became an Anglican priest. And late in his life, he came down with an illness and he didn’t get out of bed for nine months. During that time he wrote a book of devotions. He prays, Lord, please let me get up from this bed so that I might practice the resurrection. Getting up from this bed will be practice for what it is like to be raised to eternal life. And maybe this is Donne or maybe I inferred it, but what I got from that was that every day that we get up out of our bed, we are practicing the resurrection.
Every time we get up out of the bed, we’re practicing resurrection. Every time we swing our sore legs down to the floor, prop ourselves up on our elbows and sit up, every time we take our weight, we are practicing for that day when we rise up in glory. Even when we can’t get ourselves all the way up, but can just lift up our head or our hand or our eyes, we are practicing resurrection. And it can hurt.
I’m not just talking about being sore anymore. I’m talking about the real practical experience of trying to bring new life into this world. When you wake up in the morning as a Christian, you practice the resurrection when you rise from your bed. And then our job as Christians is to practice the resurrection all day long. We bring life into spaces that are long dead. We offer healing to people who have been wounded. We forgive. We try to do what Christ taught us to do – we care the for the poor, the marginalized, the brokenhearted. We proclaim repentance to sinners. We visit the sick and the imprisoned, we house the homeless. We work so that everyone knows that they are beloved children of God. Every time we get up out of the bed, we go forth to practice resurrection.
And sometimes, it hurts. You don’t have to believe me. Ask anyone who has given birth. Bringing new life into the world is not a pain-free process. But it is a glorious one. Sometimes, we triumph. Sometimes, the victory is obvious. But sometimes bringing resurrection into the world is painful. You’re trying to help one family pull themselves out of hell, and two others slip through the cracks. You’ve just tried to be nice to your children’s friends, but now it’s 1:00am on Tuesday night and here is one of them at your door because he can’t come home. His parents saw he’s in a relationship with a boy on facebook, and you’re having dinner with them Friday. For every stride towards justice that we make in our society fighting tooth and claw, we find a new and brutal injustice that demands action, and sometimes the work or bringing God’s kingdom to this earth is more than you think you can bear.
And if you’ve been trying to practice the resurrection in your waking and in your walking, it might hurt to get up in the morning. Maybe when you get up in the morning, it feels like the whole world is arrayed against you. That you’ve lost the battle before it’s begun. Or maybe you’re scared to face one more day of giving your all and getting nowhere. This is part and parcel of practicing the resurrection. Because taking up your cross costs something. Sacrificing for someone else will involve having less for you. But on Easter morning we know that it’s worth it.
Because Jesus hurt when he woke up this morning. But Jesus woke up this morning. Christ is risen, and we don’t need to be afraid of what is to come. Christ is risen and our victory is assured for us. Christ is risen and the worries and the weariness are all worthwhile because nothing can overcome the love and power of the Lord God who raised Jesus from the dead.
Paul says, “O Death, where is thy sting?”
It’s here, right here, when we wake up in the morning. There isn’t joy without pain, there isn’t love without pain, there isn’t life without pain. But there is joy. There is love. There is life. And Easter is God’s proclamation that love wins out in the end. The sting of death is nothing compared to the power of the resurrection. The pain will never conquer love, because love has endured all pain, and yet remains. Because Love has died on the cross and love has risen on the the third day. Love has conquered. And victory is ours.
So sometimes it feels like pain, but it is victory. Every time we practice the resurrection. Every time we do something that denies the power of death in the world and brings forth life. Every time we say, “I forgive you.” Every time we pray for someone and make their problems ours. Every time we stand up for what is right, and true, and good. Every time we make ourselves like our Lord, washing each other’s feet, living and dying for others, practicing the resurrection. Every time we rise up in the morning and choose to hope, choose to live, choose to believe in our Good Friday world that there is resurrection brewing. It might hurt. But it is the assurance of our victory in God.
So go out into the world and practice the resurrection. Get up out of your bed rejoicing that you can join with him in making all things new. Bring life into places that are long dead. Bring healing to people who have been broken by this world. Bring grace to the children of God who are so often forgotten, and know that whatever resistance you face, whether inside or out, has already been conquered for you. And when it hurts, know that it is a sign that you are living and dying with Christ, practicing so that you might be resurrected with Christ. Because he is risen. Love has conquered. He is risen. And the world will never be the same.