New Life Rising

—Conference Minister Rev. Shari Prestemon
A couple days ago I took my first trek of the season to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, longing to see signs of spring. Much of the earth was still brown and dingy, scattered with the brittle leaves of autumn. But here and there I found what I was looking for: new life beginning to rise.

Small green shoots were climbing their way through the warming earth, stretching toward the sun’s welcome. The colors of bright yellow daffodils and delicate purple groundcover brightened the otherwise gloomy landscape. Hundreds of tulip stems greened large plots, tight buds of pink and red and orange still withholding their full and glorious bloom. I marveled at the artistry of God’s Creation, the intricacy and subtlety and boldness of it all.

I’m not sure I have ever longed for spring quite so desperately. And never have I needed Easter’s Resurrection quite so much.

A year ago at Easter we were still blissfully unaware that the pandemic was only just beginning its long and awful path. We grieved not being able to gather in our church buildings for Easter worship, or with our families and friends for Easter dinner. But, we thought, “We can do this! We just have to suffer this short-term sacrifice and things will soon get back to normal.”

Little did we know that one year later many of us would still be worshiping virtually, or that masks and physical distancing would remain necessary, or that gathering with friends and family would still be a measured risk, a matter for prayerful discernment and care. We didn’t know what unspeakable volumes of death and illness our nation and world would suffer. Or that our economy would be so devastated. We did not foresee the horrific killing of George Floyd at 38th and Chicago on May 25 or the national reckoning it would necessarily unleash. We didn’t imagine an insurrection at our nation’s Capitol. We didn’t comprehend just how deep the divides among us would become right when we most needed to come together.

We need the Resurrection.

This Easter season, we proclaim yet again: Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen indeed! We trust that, like those first shoots of spring piercing the earth’s hard surface, new possibility is stubbornly emerging. We work with God to birth fresh hope right where we are, giving the despairing places among us the loving, purposeful attention they require. We notice the hopeful buds of justice, awaiting their full bloom, and we labor to bring them to flower.

The long, difficult journey of this last year is not yet finished. We still need healing. We still long to safely gather, without risk or fear. We still watch in horror as the senseless death of George Floyd is revisited and the first of the trials unfolds. We still know ours is a broken nation, divisions deep and wide. Yet of this we can be certain …

New life is rising. Praise be to God!

Easter blessings,
Reverend Shari Prestemon, Conference Minister

© Minnesota Conference United Church of Christ | 2023