The Problem With Resurrection

Our spiritual theme for April is “Resurrection.” This comes as little surprise to most of us. We will celebrate the Easter holiday in just weeks. If the long established pattern holds, attendance on Easter Sunday will be larger than any other Sunday morning during the year. I think it may be simply habit or the perfectly natural desire to celebrate the coming of spring. But it does raise a question as to why the holiday most central to the Christian promise should be so popular in a community in which only a minority claim a Christian religious identity.

I think our problem with resurrection may be not so much on the rebirth side, but on the “passing away” side of the equation. It is hard to argue with the rebirth in nature that is all around us. Just look at the flowering trees, the daffodils, tulips and other flowers of spring. New birth and new growth is hard to deny. It is the loss involved, not the promised hope of resurrection with which we struggle most.

I try to remember that truth each year as we await the end of the rain and the full-bodied coming of spring. I return often in this season to a meditation written by Howard Thurman, entitled “I Will Sing a New Song.” He recognizes so clearly the difficulty of saying goodbye to habits and patterns of thought that may have served us well in the past, but which do not fit the current challenges we face. Change is a challenge. Thurman’s hope grows out of the painful recognition that change is not only inevitable, but necessary:


I Will Sing a New Song by Howard Thurman

The old song of my spirit has wearied itself out. It has long ago been learned by heart so that now it repeats itself over and over, bringing no added joy to my days or lift to my spirit. It is a good song, measured in rhythm to which I am bound by ties of habit and timidity of mind. The words belong to old experiences which once sprang fresh as water from a mountain crevice fed by melting snows. But my life has passed beyond to other levels where the old songs are meaningless. … Also, I know that the work of the old song, perfect in its place, is not for the new demand!

I will sing a new song. As difficult as it is, I must learn the new song that is capable of meeting the new need. I must fashion new words born of all the new growth of my life, my mind and spirit. I must prepare for new melodies that have never before been mine. How I love the old familiarity of the wearied melody—how I shrink from the harsh discords of the new untried harmonies.

Teach me … that I might learn the fresh new accent, the untried melody, to meet the need of the untried morrow. …

I will sing … a new song!


Blessings of this season to you all.


P.S. Howard Thurman was minister, mystic and mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King. He founded the Church for the Fellowship of All People in San Francisco, the first intentionally integrated congregation in the US. That church still meets, though Thurman died in 1981. I have had the privilege of preaching from his pulpit. Thurman spoke at the Centennial celebration of First Unitarian in 1966.

Howard Washington Thurman, 1899-1981