Grace Transforms Us
That early morning, the first day of the week, when the women went to the tomb to finish preparing Jesus’ body, nothing could have prepared them for what they were going to find.
The tomb was empty, and the body of Jesus was not there. When confronted by the men in dazzling clothes who asked, “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?,” they suddenly remembered. They remembered everything Jesus taught about how he would die and after three days be raised.
God had done something new, something miraculous through the death and resurrection of Christ. God had overturned the natural order of life and death. Through Christ’s resurrection, we know that death no longer has the final say. The promise of life everlasting comes through the Easter Gospel, celebrated every time we gather to worship and throughout our daily lives.
Sometimes I think it is hard for us to remember the gifts that come from God. Sometimes, I feel like we take them for granted. I know I will often forget when I look outside and see a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or see the new life all around as plants spring forth new life and animals awaken from their winter hibernation, to give God thanks and praise for God’s amazing creative works that continue to happen each and every day. I think we also take for granted the gifts of grace and mercy that come from God.
When we sin, and damage part of our relationship with God, God has every right to be upset with us. We have not followed through on our end of the relationship. We turned away from God, thinking we can do it on our own and our sinful nature has taken hold of our lives, drawing us further from God.
However, out of God’s abundant love for us, God transformed Godself into a human. Through Christ’s death, we are reminded of just how far God was willing to go to make sure our relationship could never be destroyed. And through the gifts received through Holy Communion and Baptism, God established a new covenant that sin would never be able to overcome.
There are two parts of the baptismal service that I always find extra meaningful. The first one is after the water has been poured and the following prayer is said over the newly baptized.
We give you thanks, O God, that through water and the Holy Spirit you give your daughters and sons new birth, cleanse them from sin, and raise them to eternal life. Sustain (name) with the gift of your Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever. ELW pg. 231
After the great transformation has happened in us, when through the waters of baptism our sinful self is drowned and we are brought to new life, this prayer is said. We give thanks to God for not only the gift of baptism, but also for the gifts that come from God claiming us as God’s children. God’s Spirit is also invoked upon the newly baptized, reminding them and us of the promise we receive through our baptisms, the promise that we will never be alone in this world. God will always be with us through the good times and the struggles. And, it’s not just for a day, a week, or even our lifetime on earth. This promise God makes with us is forever. It is an eternal promise that can never be taken away from us.
The second is as the baptismal candle is lit from the Paschal Candle. We hear the words:
Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. ELW pg. 231
We all have been given this charge to let our lights shine before others, to go and do good works so God may be glorified in everything we say and do. Through God’s grace, we have been transformed from ordinary people into Easter people. We carry with us the promise of the resurrection everywhere we go.
So go! Live your lives as transformed people, carrying the promise of the resurrection in everything you do. Go and spread the news that Christ is risen! Go and spread the news that death doesn’t get the final say! Go and be transformed by God’s grace!