Lent Devotions: The turn toward life

Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: This Lent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).      

By Rev. Scott Clark

Luke 24:1-12  

“Why are you looking for the living among the dead?”

It is, perhaps, a rhetorical question.

But we know the answer, don’t we?

Why are they looking for the living among the dead?

Because of love.

Because of love, these women have followed Jesus from Galilee to the tomb, from the beginning until now. Because of love, they persisted at the cross, when everyone else had fled. Because of love, they stayed with him till he breathed his last, and even then they would not leave him; they lingered there with his body, and followed Joseph of Arimathea, as they laid him in the tomb. Because of love, in the remaining daylight before Sabbath, they prepared spices and perfumes for his burial. Because of love, they wept themselves to sleep, and then rested in the silence of Sabbath — or maybe in quiet tears — or maybe in the gentle embrace of remembering. And the next day, in the early morning, because of love, they go to the tomb to complete their tender care of the body of Christ.

And what they find there is also hinted at in this question. What they find there — looking for the living among the dead — is life. At first, only a glimmer — in the words, “He is risen,” and then, “Remember what he told you.” And as they remember, they begin to tell the good news, to Peter, and to the Eleven, and to “all the others.” And then together, with the community that loved Jesus, they continue to experience the Risen Christ in the breaking of bread, and in the conversation on the road to Emmaus, and in a beachside meal of broiled fish, and in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and then in the experience of healing in their own hands, and in good news proclaimed in their own voices.

And in these experiences of resurrection life, this is what they come to say: Because of love, when we needed God most, God came to us in Jesus Christ to save us from everything that would do us harm. Jesus lived in the midst of us — word made flesh — fully God, fully us. And with us and in us, Jesus Christ proclaims good news to the poor, binds up the brokenhearted, proclaims release to the captive, and lets the oppressed go free. With us. For us. In us. Because of love.

Last year in the SFTS devotions during Holy Week, Professor James Noel shared with us a number of works of art, inviting us to join the community of New Liberation Presbyterian Church (where he served as pastor) in praying with sacred art. As we have continued to grieve the loss of Dr. Noel this year, I came across the wealth of those images that James had shared with me as we prepared those devotions. I am sharing one with you here that is Dr. Noel’s own work — a glimpse of Easter morning. It speaks to me of love and joy and freedom and life more powerful than all suffering and pain and oppression and death. Gentle friends, may this be your experience this Easter morning — and forever.

Rev. Scott Clark is chaplain and associate dean of student life at San Francisco Theological Seminary. 

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