Christ is risen, dear Trinity! Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia! Honestly, it never gets old. I hope this is my first and last line each and every day, as well as my very last in some shape or prayer-form or sigh. Perhaps unbeknownst to us, it is for everyone.

It says it all for us as followers of Jesus. Nothing could stop or put an end to God’s love. “They” tried to kill the Son of God, but God’s incarnate Word couldn’t and wouldn’t stay dead. The story continues. Overtime ensues. More chapters unfolding. Cue a young emboldened church.

The courage and servant-heart of the Messiah illustrates that God’s love wins. Not the cross, not silencing, not betrayal, not political or spiritual leadership, not power or privilege—not ANYTHING—could sway the will of the Most High to choose non-violent deliverance. Salvation. Relationship renewed. Over and over and over again. God always making this garden new.

One of the strange evidences of Jesus resurrection for me is that we don’t hear Jesus scolding or even really shaming the disciples about what happened. He definitely could have, especially with Peter. But Jesus doesn’t throw him or anyone under the bus. He doesn’t pump his fist in the face of the religious leaders or the Romans. He doesn’t gloat in the incredible power of God or his own individual ability to overcome the inescapable grip of death. Again, he definitely could have. Instead, the risen Jesus opens an expansive and unexpected path of end-of-life options for his earliest companions. For us too.

We see these options revealed in the many appearances and sightings and encounters with the risen Christ. Mary mistaking Jesus for God’s gardener (which he is). Jesus walking the distraught road to Emmaus. Breaking bread and eating fish by the fire on the lakeshore. Jesus also shows up in the locked room with the ever-hopeful Word: “Peace be with you.”

There is something familiar and real about Jesus’ appearances. He is still very much himself, scars and all. He remains particularly enchanted with table fellowship. But there are some new things about the risen Christ too, passing through doors unannounced for sure, but also the fact that he doesn’t just get back to work. There is a connection to what has been done, but there are also some new options on the table also. End-of-life has a new beginning. Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

What happens at the Sunday Forum? Wait, what is the connection between Jesus’ resurrection and the forum? Now that is a good question. I am so glad I asked. It really does have to do with what happens at the Sunday Forum.

Is it magic or miracle? Feats of the impossible? Marvels and wonders too great for words? Kinda. We also host incredible thought-leaders, faithful teachers, and vulnerable storytellers.

For me, it’s a regular sighting of the risen Christ, opening our hearts, minds and bodies to possibilities and options that we may not realize alone. Likely that we would not glean individually.

Stump the Pastors edition: Beyond speakers and teachers, one of the most beloved times for me and my colleague PC (I know she agrees) is the Stump the Pastors Sunday Forum. We never know what the questions or the topics might be, only that we regularly experience the resurrection through this conversational dialog with God’s people at Trinity.

One of those stumping conversations recently discussed the importance of providing compassion, care, love and dignity to persons during the last stages of their life—especially those who are suffering greatly and may wish to die sooner rather than later. Unfortunately, lots of folks shared and have shared how the dying process has presented conflicting and potentially harm-inducing responses (e.g., death by suicide with a gun being a tragic and convenient option that rarely provides closure). Many of us have witnessed families who feel forced to numb their loved ones into their next chapter. Financially too, many feel the astronomical burden of the intensive 24/7 medical cost incurred by long-term care.

With end-of-life legislation being discussed at the Minnesota capitol, we also discussed where this conversation stands in the ELCA and with our sibling faith communities. While the ELCA does have a social message concerning end-of-life, it predates much of the lived experience and current policy proposals.

What concerns me most is not necessarily having a clear church statement, message or divine doctrine around the complexity of end-of-life situations (though policy does have a place in our collective witness), what I love and concerns me most is that Trinity is having these holy conversations.

In the hope and promise of Easter, we trust that God can do hard things. God can do and is doing incredibly challenging ministry through us. Ministry that seeks compassion, courage and curiosity. Ministry together that prays, listens deeply, and doesn’t shy away from tough questions. Even if we truly are stumped, which regularly happens, we trust that the Risen Christ will keep meeting us on the road and when the room feels locked, inviting us to live resurrection.

No matter what, God’s promised love will continue to pour out for us not only in our end-of-life options, but also in the promise of life-unending in Christ each and every day. Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Pastor Peter

ELCA End-of-Life Social Message>> 

Bill Summary: Minnesota End-of-Life Option Act, HF 1930 and SF 1813>>