By: Brittany Fiscus-van Rossum
1 Peter 4:1-8
Reflection—v. 8 ‘the gospel was proclaimed even to the dead.’
Every now and again, my former seminary friends and I will work ourselves into a self-righteous frenzy about our beloved church. Like scorned lovers, we’ll recite the same diatribe: ‘Why can’t we just get it right?!’ Each of us has committed our lives to the God that this beautiful and broken institution confesses—and yet we cannot help but feel the sting of disappointment each time it seems that the church fails at its great mission. ‘Let it die!’ my friend used to chime in—a provocative thing for a pastor to say, I know. But are we really so afraid of letting things die? Don’t we follow a Lord who was led to his own death—carried to and buried within the tomb, quickly sealed up tight, as if to proclaim the heavy permanence of his end? Do we trust that this end is not, in fact, what it seemed? One way of thinking about baptism is that when we enter the water, we follow Jesus through death—and then we are pulled out to new life in him. In order to come out on the other side, we have to wade in—holding our breath, and clenching our eyes tight with the blind hope of surfacing and filling our lungs again. It is not too late to come up: it is not too late to listen, to change, to open our doors, and to love one another better. As we sit in our silent and drafty tombs—stone monuments to the church that once was, listening for the ghostly footsteps of all the people who will never come inside—the church may in fact be dead. But let it be so. Yet fear not, oh entombed ones: the gospel is proclaimed even to the dead. Arise—and blink the water out of your eyes as you gasp for air. Stand up and wait, for God is already moving the stone aside.
Prayer: O Holy One, give us the courage to follow you out of the tomb.