In this article I am sharing some reflections on Episcopal Bishop Jake Owensby’s book, A Resurrection-Shaped Life: Dying and Rising on Planet Earth (2018), and relating it to my cousin who was buried yesterday.
Characteristics of a Resurrection-Shaped Life
1) Those who live a resurrection-shaped life are hopeful. Owensby’s slim book is neither directly about Jesus’ resurrection nor the resurrection of Jesus-believers in the future. Rather, it is about one’s manner of living in the here and now.
Owensby asserts that “it’s in the depths of loss and sorrow that hope brings us to new life” (p. 51). Jesus had said to his disciples, “Blessed are those who mourn” (Matt. 5:4). Even though they did not understand this as they mourned Jesus’ crucifixion, they experienced that blessedness when Jesus was resurrected.
So, “the resurrection of Christ gives new meaning to our experience of grief” (p. 52). Those who live a resurrection-shaped life embrace, and are embraced by, the blessing of hope even in the midst of grief.
2) Those who live a resurrection-shaped life are joyful. Perhaps it is largely because of their hopeful attitude, a resurrection-shaped life is characterized by joy as well as by hope.
Owensby (b. 1957) doesn’t write much about joy in this book--except for his several references to Joy, which is his wife’s name. But joy definitely seems to be a by-product of a resurrection-shaped life.
The third chapter of Owensby’s book is “Recovering from Shame and Blame.” (I was pleasantly surprised to see this chapter just after posting my article about shame on April 5.) Those who live a resurrection-shaped life have learned to overcome shame. That is because, as Owensby writes,
Overcoming shame involves changing our minds about ourselves. And Jesus came in part to help us do precisely that. Jesus changes our minds about ourselves by changing our minds about God (p. 36).
3) Those who live a resurrection-shaped life are helpful. That is, they regularly engage in loving service.
To cite Owensby again,
Life centered on caring for ourselves turns to dust. A life devoted to the growth, nurture, and well-being of others stretches into eternity. A resurrection-shaped life is love in the flesh (p. 102).
And this gets us to my cousin Carolyn, who was my oldest first cousin on the Seat side of the family.
The Resurrection-Shaped Life of Cousin Carolyn
Carolyn Houts passed away on April 12 and her funeral/burial was yesterday, on Good Friday. Carolyn, who celebrated her 77th birthday last month, died peacefully, sitting in a chair waiting for the delivery of her Meals on Wheels lunch.
After serving for nearly 34 years as a Southern Baptist missionary to Ghana, Carolyn retired in 2010 and had lived in Grant City, Missouri, since 2011. My blog article for 7/5/10 (see here) was about Cousin Carolyn, just as she was returning to the U.S., and I hope you will read it (again).
|Carolyn Houts (1942-2019)|
As we observe the celebration of Easter tomorrow—and I realize there will be a great variety in the way readers of this blog will celebrate Easter—my deepest prayer is that we all will not only know what a resurrection-shaped life means but will, in reality, be able to live such a life.