Newsletter Articles

The Phoenix: Raise into New Life

Jesus’ resurrection is a single moment in human history, but had and continues to have profound significance that cannot be contained in an annual one day celebration. Thus, Easter is a seven Sunday season, which emphasizes the post-resurrection accounts of Jesus and the emerging Christian community.

Yet, Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation upon which the church universal and our Christian claims are built. Thus, our Sunday worship is always a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, even during the season of Lent.

Furthermore, Jesus’ resurrection invites and calls us daily, as individuals and the church universal, to die to self and be resurrected into a future that is brighter than we can imagine.

Resurrection is not possible without death. It is the tale of the Phoenix.

The Phoenix is not a favorite simply because I am an Arizona desert rat, but because it is an amazing image for our lives.

The Phoenix dies to self, literally as it self-combusts. Similarly was are called to die to ourselves. We are called to allow our ego (or self) to be destroyed in all its selfish desires and ambitions. We do so through the waters of baptism rather than the beauty of fire and flames.

The Phoenix is raised, or resurrected, from those fertile ashes. Similarly we are called not to die in a manner resulting in mere death, buried in a tomb, and gone for all eternity. We are called to emerge from the waters of baptism into a new life reflected through the baptismal promises:
to proclaim Christ in word and deed;
to seek justice;
to act with compassion and mercy; and
to love and serve all people.

The Phoenix does not rise as a weaker or equal version of itself, but stronger. Similarly, we are called not to emerge from baptismal waters as weaker or equal, but as more deeply and intimately connected to God and neighbor, stronger in our faith, and ‘better’ than before.

We are called to be the Phoenix, not merely at our baptism or annually during Lent and Easter, but we are called to self-combust or drown (die to self) every single day, in order that we may be raised into new life daily, into a deeper relationship with God and neighbor a like, and a future brighter than we can ever imagine.

May we be reminded of the Phoenix and our calling to die to self and be raised into new life whenever and wherever we encounter flame or water.

With love,
Melinda Gapen

Originally published as the May 2019 Newsletter Article for Trinity Lutheran (Union City, IN).

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