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Find Resurrection this Easter not Reincarnation

Posted: May 4, 2012 by Rob Voyle

You Can't Have Resurrection without Crucifixion

And Crucifixion Isn't Supposed to Last a Lifetime

Find Resurrection this Easter not Reincarnation

Too often I see individuals and congregations get caught up in endless cycles of suffering and mutual victimization. In some situations the suffering may be romanticized, theologically and psychologically and seen as the essence of life, when in fact it is the essence of death. In the midst of such suffering people will often look to Jesus as the one who will help them have less death or at least to make this suffering tolerable.

Contrary to trivial and popular western understandings of reincarnation as a way of immortality, Buddhists actually see reincarnation as a curse. Reincarnation is the never ending recycling of patterns of suffering, such as a congregation calling four active alcoholic pastors in a row. For Buddhists what is required in these situations is not reincarnation but enlightenment - a radically different way of seeing and being in the world. For Christians this is resurrection, where the old ways dies and new life bursts forth.

This is the Easter message of resurrection, of new life. It is not a message of tolerating misery or of having less death. The Apostles were called to be witnesses of the resurrection. Crucifixion does not create community or bring people together, it causes disciples to scatter, it is resurrection that brings people back together in community.

Here are three patterns I see in congregations and individuals when they suffer:

* suffering - struggle to avoid death - exhaustion/apathy

* suffering - dormancy - reincarnation/repetition

* suffering - death - resurrection/new life

The way of resurrection requires death, not just a winter of dormancy. Resurrection requires a radical surrender or letting go of that which is not working, especially our ego attachments to our way of seeing the world. Rather than let go of our understanding and see things the way God's sees them we struggle to get God to bless our understanding.

This is true not only for individuals or congregations but also for our nation. Every four years in the US we get together and elect new leaders who promise change. While the players may change rather than real change we get reincarnation, the same patterns repeated over and over, where the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. What we need is resurrection not reincarnation and that requires that we as a people have courage to let our old ways die rather than getting our way.

One of the things I value about the Appreciative Way is that it provides specific strategies to create new life regardless of where we find ourselves. The Appreciative Way does not ignore suffering or crucifixion. In the midst of suffering it provides strategies for finding the seeds of new life and in the midst of death of finding those qualities such as love and delight that will never die for they are of God.

This Good Friday take some time to wonder what needs to die, for example a way of seeing things or a strategy that despite your best efforts is not working. And don't stop there, wonder what life-giving quality needs to arise in its place and invite that into your God-given awareness.

I wish you and those you love a Blessed Easter.

Rob Voyle

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