18 Apr, Sunday – Out Of Ashes

3rd Sunday of Easter

Acts 3:13-15,17-19
1 Jn 2:1-5
Lk 24:35-48

“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name…”

We have survived Lent, we have carried our own crosses for 40 days, we have fasted and abstained. We have confessed, repented, and we have celebrated the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday. We are also lucky. We have the benefit of hindsight of more than two thousand years to reflect on the resurrection and what it means to us. We are able to do a ‘post-resurrection review’ (for lack of a better term), at least to a much better extent than the early followers of Christ.

Those who had witnessed the cruelty meted out to Christ at the hands of his captors, followed by his crucifixion, would no less be confused, doubtful and afraid. Had this man really been the Messiah as people said he was, in which case why then did God let these things happen to him? If Jesus could raise the dead and heal the blind, why then could he not send down a bolt of lightning to silence his captors and angels to free him from the cross? The soldiers at the foot of the cross mocked Jesus, asking him to save himself. Perhaps they were expecting a miracle to happen, not realizing that they would soon be witness to one.

We know now that all these things had to happen for God’s plan to materialize. The resurrection of Christ is a metaphor of our own struggles in life. Whatever demons we are fighting within ourselves, they are constantly taunting us to save ourselves, telling us that if we can’t, then we are weak. But the thing is, we can’t save ourselves. We can’t do it alone. We need God to help us, we need to depend on God for the emancipation from our struggles. We think we can do it alone and probably, to a certain extent, we could; but at some point, we will hit a roadblock and exhaust our own capabilities. We crash and burn and at our rope’s end, that is where the miracle happens — out of the ashes of our old selves, a new us is reborn in Jesus Christ our Lord.

“Out of ashes into freedom, out of dying into life,” sings Steve Green in his song “Out of Ashes”. We ‘die’ to our old selves, not only during Easter when we renew our baptism vows, but every single day that we surrender to God for help. We die to stubbornness, we die to pride, we die to addiction, to lust, to unfaithfulness. We die to the self that God abhors and in its place – in the name of forgiveness, mercy and love – He transforms us into an image more like Him, every day. He frees us to love and to live our best selves. This is all part of our transformation. It is hard. It is painful. But through fire we are tested, and we emerge on the other end victorious and full of grace.

Out of the ashes He is risen! And so are we. Like a phoenix, we must first burn to rise again. Out of the ashes, we are entwined with Christ in His resurrection. Let us celebrate our renewal and our rebirth into freedom.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)

Prayer: We pray O Lord, for the strength, obedience, and willingness to surrender to God the transformation of our lives according to His plan for us.

ThanksgivingThanks be to God, for the risen Christ and for our own rising from our ashes!

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