Spirit Alive: Resurrection Happens!


Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.

March 27, 2018

With Heart, Soul, and Mind:

Learning to Know Ourselves as Already Resurrected

"And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Jesus' final words according to the Gospel of Matthew 28: 20

Friends, it's Holy Week, so let's be completely honest with each other. Life is difficult...sometimes unbearably so. The human condition involves suffering and pain, but God is ever present. The power of God's promise and the gift of God's love are often found on the other side of our most difficult struggles. In short, there is no "Resurrection happens" unless there is some "S___ happens" first. It is just the way things work...and Holy Week is perhaps the most powerful example of this reality.

The problem is that when things don't go well in our lives, it is tempting to reach the conclusion that "S___ happens" and then simply get stuck there. Indeed, when things not only appear like they aren't going to work out, but the evidence points to the fact that all hell is breaking loose as well, people tend to say to themselves: "Yep, s____ happens!" The problem is that this conclusion leaves us short of Easter Sunday, still mired in Good Friday.

I'm sure that this was true for the disciples, as Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem turned into a series of dark and chaotic encounters with the religious and political authorities of his day. Jesus' followers must have said at some point lots of negative things to themselves...as they moved into the shadows, as they betrayed their better instincts...as they denied that they even knew the guy!

Following the Way of Love that Jesus taught is hard enough, but when people respond to that love and

compassion with hatred, bitterness, vengeance, and hostility...and use their power against those who are most vulnerable, it is easy to decide that there must be an another way. And this instinct isn't new.

Remember the drama unfolding in the run up to Good Friday? I'm sure that Peter must have been in the front lines of the Palm Sunday Parade...that is at least until Jesus' arrest. Then, when confronted by others who thought they knew who he was, Peter responded by saying, "I do not know the man!" Wow...some follower indeed!

As Holy Week unfolds, I'm reminded of Julia Esquivel's powerful poem "They Have Threatened Us with Resurrection." Esquivel, a Guatemalan poet, theologian, and peace activist, who was exiled from her country during the horrendous oppression there in the 1980s, writes:

Join us in this vigil

and you will know what it is to dream!

Then you will know how marvelous it is

to live threatened with Resurrection!

To dream awake

to keep watch asleep,

to live while dying,

and to know ourselves already resurrected!

Today, in the church, it is easy to look around and become discouraged...to be overcome by the negative, troubling news...to feel betrayed by the realities of life....to lose heart and in the process to lose hope...to let the stone remain in place at the tomb.To conclude that "S___ happens!" and remain there... discouraged and despairing of the future.

But RESURRECTION HAPPENS as well. There are signs of life among us....

In the midst of sexual abuse and harassment, women stand up to say #MeToo and No More...

and resurrection happens!

In the midst of gun violence in our schools, young people take to the streets and march and speak out to teach those in power that if they can't figure out how to address the problem then the young among us will show us a way forward...

and resurrection happens!

In the midst of bigotry and racism, people from diverse backgrounds create new, open ways to relate and converse with each other...

and resurrection happens!

And in our church...

Even as congregations that have been in existence for years decide they must close, we find ourselves starting new faith communities in Bend and Boise and Portland and Medford and beyond...new places for new people...

and resurrection happens!

And while we have so much more work to do in terms of Acts of Repentance for the injustices that our society and the church have done to Native American people, United Methodist Native American leaders from across the Western United States gather for the first time to connect and plan for a more redemptive future....

and resurrection happens!

And after having spent decades stuck on how to be inclusive of those who are different from us and still be a church together, we come together as an annual conference to gather around tables and have civil conversations with each other about difficult subjects, including human sexuality...

and resurrection happens!

There are lots of signs of resurrection breaking out among us as United Methodists in the Oregon-Idaho

Annual Conference...our Hispanic ministries are growing and expanding, we have a growing network of people involved in working with Radical Compassion experiences, we are discovering new ways in our local churches to become engaged with our communities...and each time this happens.... RESURRECTION HAPPENS.

When things are chaotic and life is changing dramatically, it seems that our biggest challenge is to pay attention and notice that while things are dying...other things are coming into life. Praise God!

It's important to remember that we are an Easter people, but in order to live in this spirit we need to know ourselves to already be resurrected!

Let us walk in the light of God's love,


Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference. It seeks to identify where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities. Check out past editions, or subscribe to the email list.





Lowell Greathouse
Lowell Greathouse is the Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. He looks for places to find where the spirit is alive and help them grow in vitality and fruitfulness. Share with him at lowell@umoi.org