Rumblings from the Pastor’s Study:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” John 11:25
Pokémon Go seems an unlikely inspiration for a meditation on the truths of Easter with all its hope, but that’s where I’m working from on this April edition of Rumblings. For those not in the know, Pokémon Go is a video game you can play on your phone wherever you are which populates your current locality with strange little imaginary creatures to be caught with Poke balls. Also in the game are what are called Poke stops—our church building is one such stop—where the Trainer—that is, the player—can replenish his or her hunting equipment. And there are also things called “gyms”—locations where teams made up of Pokémon belonging to various trainers as they have walked by the location are left to defend the gym from invaders. What happens, of course, as a new player approaches the so-defended gym, is that his or her stable of characters is invited to “battle” the defenders of the gym. If the new trainer’s Pokémon win the battle, it is taken over with various benefits.
Now all of this sounds very violent, and at first, I didn’t really like the idea of “battling” my characters against those of other trainers—I didn’t like the idea of killing any Pokémon, especially the cute ones like Pikachu. But then I was told one of the genius touches of this game—none of these battling characters ever dies. Instead, if the one they are battling comes on too strong for them and they are defeated, they merely faint and are transported back to the safe home of their trainers who then use various potions to revive them to full strength.
This is the story of our hope at Easter. Through our lives, all the way up to the end of our lives, we will be called to battle. Some of these battles will take place inside us as we find ourselves attacked by temptation and the urging of the world and situations around us to pull us away from God’s orbit following Christ, into their orbit. Other conflicts will involve those universal hurts which confront all humanity, not just believing ones—sickness, tragedy, oppression and injustice, sorrow and grief of many types. And, at the end of life, each one of us will have to face the foe that Paul calls the “last enemy” in 1 Corinthians 15—death. But Paul writes about this grim foe in 1 Corinthians with this insistence—“The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
And that is because of Easter. We may fail and faint on our fights with temptation and with faithfulness. We may have a hard time in life because of sickness and hurt and all kinds of opposition. They may try us so hard that we faint dead away. But for those in Jesus Christ—those who “believe in Me,” Jesus says in John, it will not kill. Instead, the resurrection that He was raised into, and which He is become for us, will raise us as well, and in our Master’s home we will be revived, all tears gone, all battles done for, with the leaves of the tree of life ours for the healing. And that healing—that life—will be final. For as Paul also writes in 1 Corinthians 15, “The sting of sin is death, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”—the Easter victory—the completed victory.
In Christ’s love, Pastor Steve.