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Saturday, July 31, 2021

    From Death to Life

    Reverend Aleese Kenitzer
    Aleese Kenitzer serves as the pastor of Shepherd of the Cross Church in Muscatine.

    Muscatine Living

    It was clear to me, in the midst of a run through Discovery Park, that creation is looking more and more like spring. Seeing the blooms of some daffodils, and a few stray blades of grass persistently poking their heads through the ground, the earth was showing sign after sign of rebirth. Continuing along the trail, as I neared the prairie, I remembered that about every spring, that prairie is burned. Ask any naturalist, and they’ll tell you that for prairie lands to flourish, old material must die. Even if there are hints of new life, it’s better for the entirety of the environment to die so that new life can spring forth.

    In nature, it makes sense. From death comes life, but when we start applying that logic to our lives and our world, it seems counter-intuitive. How can death really be necessary for new life? Nobody likes death. It’s too final, and often, it brings suffering. However, if we were to look at the core message of the Christian faith, that’s exactly the truth we would find: from death comes life.

    This past Sunday, Christians around the world marked the beginning of Holy Week – one of the most sacred weeks in the church’s calendar. Starting out with a parade, hailing Jesus as King, by the end of the week, Christians will find themselves at Christ’s cross. At that moment, with the death of Jesus, one would think everything was over. But, as many of us know the end of the story, in three days, Jesus would be raised to new life.

    Each and every year, the Christian church remembers this sacred story. Some years it might sound like great news: bringing excitement and jubilation as we shout our “alleluias” with gusto, but this year, the reality of death might still be quite palpable: the COVID-19 pandemic still continues, mass shootings seem to pop up on a weekly basis, and we are becoming more and more aware that parts of our lives may never “return to normal.” Whether we like it or not, death isn’t that far outside our reach. Indeed, death surrounds us, and at times, it might seem too much to bear. But, even in the midst of death, now – because of Christ’s victory over death – God is bringing about a new beginning.

    So as you look around this spring, I invite you: take a good look at what you see around you, and what you see within yourself. Be honest, and recognize where death shows up, but don’t stop there. Choose to take heart. Because the truth we proclaim this Easter Sunday is not only the promise of new life for Jesus; it is also the promise that new life has begun for ourselves, and for the whole world. Death is real. There’s no doubt about that, but in the end, death will not have the last word. Because in Christ, God is making all things new, once again.

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