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Our Identity at Easter

As we have been reflecting on what makes up our identity, it is important to pause and remember who we are in light of Easter. I have been spending time letting the following passages written by Henri Nouwen challenge my approach to the Easter season. I so often look to Easter morning in anticipation of feeling renewed without actually considering how I am actively being renewed.

Nouwen writes:

Jesus says: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him … take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). He does not say: “Make a cross” or “Look for a cross.” Each of us has a cross to carry. There is no need to make one or look for one. The cross we have is hard enough for us! But are we willing to take it up, to accept it as our cross?

Maybe we can’t study, maybe we are handicapped, maybe we suffer from depression, maybe we experience conflict in our families, maybe we are victims of violence or abuse. We didn’t choose any of it, but these things are our crosses. We can ignore them, reject them, refuse them or hate them. But we can also take up these crosses and follow Jesus with them. The resurrection of Jesus is the basis of our faith in the resurrection of our bodies. Often we hear the suggestion that our bodies are the prisons of our souls and that the spiritual life is the way out of these prisons. But by our faith in the resurrection of the body we proclaim that the spiritual life and the life in the body cannot be separated. Our bodies, as Paul says, are temples of the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 6:19) and, therefore, sacred. The resurrection of the body means that what we have lived in the body will not go to waste but will be lifted in our eternal life with God. As Christ bears the marks of his suffering in his risen body, our bodies in the resurrection will bear the marks of our suffering. Our wounds will become signs of glory in the resurrection.

There is a beautiful tension in balancing the call to take up and bear the brokenness and pain we all feel, yet knowing the empty tomb means there is so much more for us. There is a beautiful tension in knowing that the pain and brokenness of our experiences are not forgotten or wasted when all is made new.

Next month we will continue to dive deeper into understanding what makes up our identities, specifically looking at the pieces that are harder to own. But in this moment of pause, may we all experience the true renewal that comes as Christ defeated death. He is risen!