Christianity is an inherently hopeful religion.
Matthew’s account of Easter morning (chapter 28) says:
As the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
Nothing more, nothing less. No expectations.
At the tomb they were told the good news: He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.
Finally: they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy.
Jesus surprises on the upside.
Christianity is an inherently hopeful religion. Not because we are incurable optimists against the odds, but because the negative has been lived, and overcome.
Evil has not been ignored, or not taken as real, but has been looked square in the face, has done its worst, and has been defeated.
The women are left with the promise: “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.”
While heaven is the place we will see Jesus, even now we catch a glimpse of him whenever we hear a word or witness a deed of forgiveness and kindness. This happens quite informally or casually in everyday life, and it happens as we gather with other Christians in the corporate worship events of absolution and sacraments.
The humble butterfly has been a symbol of the resurrection of Christ for a long time. This carefree, and sometimes beautiful, creature, has, dare I say, ugly beginnings in the form of a caterpillar. And at the end of its menial life, it folds up on itself to become a cocoon.
But from the cocoon emerges a creature far more beautiful and powerful than before: a butterfly. We too are reborn, or metamorphosed as a new creation in Christ when we are joined to him by faith and baptism.
May the butterfly be a reminder to us as members of an inherently hopeful religion, that Jesus surprises on the upside.
Dr Russell Briese
Director, Chaplaincy and Ministry Development, Lutheran Services