At the start of spring I open a trench / in the ground.  I put into it
the winter's accumulation of paper, / pages I do not want to read
again, useless words, fragments, / errors.  And I put in it
the contents of the outhouse / light of the sun, growth of the ground,
finished with one of their journeys.
To the sky, to the wind, then, / and to the faithful trees, I confess
my sins:  that I have not been happy / enough, considering my good luck,
have listened to too much noise, / have been inattentive to wonders,
have lusted after praise.
And then upon the gathered refuse / of mind and body, I close the trench,
folding shut again the dark, / the deathless earth.  Beneath that seal
the old escapes the new.
                               —“A Purification” by Wendell Berry

          The stories of our lives are all about birth, death, and resurrection.  In one way or another, this theme runs through everything in our world, everything we witness, and everything we know.  I don’t know a single person who has not faced some kind of devastating disappointment or loss.  I don’t know of a single blooming plant that doesn’t originate from the accumulation of previous deaths.  I don’t know any way that newness can emerge without acknowledging and releasing something of the old.  And ultimately, this is also the story of our faith.  God continually reaches out to us—no matter our pain, grief, uncertainty, insecurity—no matter what graves we may have dug for ourselves.  And God pulls us out and lures us forward—offering us new life in both astonishing and ordinary ways.  We are always being invited to take the next step, to risk loving, to risk losing, to seek belonging, and to trust that we are not alone on the journey.  Easter faith invites us to believe that death is never the end of the story.  We are held and accompanied by a gracious God who risked it all to stand by our side today.

See you in church,