Dear Reader, Aron let me know that he wrote this piece with Bob Carlisle's song "We Fall Down" in mind. If you'd like to hear that song, you can watch the official video HERE. -Chris
If you’ve read my recent piece on hospitality, you are aware of my tendency to make a bee line for the dictionary before I start in on a topic. This time is no exception.
The word resurrection is derived from two Latin words, the prefix re- and the verb surgere, to rise again. As such, it is identical in origin to the word resurgence. Both words carry the implication of bringing something/someone back to life after he/she/it was thought to be dead, either literally or figuratively.
To go a step further with the etymology, the word resurrection contains the Latin root rect-, meaning “right.” Something that had fallen down (dead) is being righted, or restored to the upright position, not unlike the tray tables on a commercial jetliner when it’s time to descend for a landing.
The idea of restoring to life that which was thought to be lost forever is, of course, a highly romantic notion. We get all wistful and misty-eyed over things lost, be they youth, money, ideals, faith or that one argyle sock that went into the dryer but never came out, lost forever among the lint balls.
We view all these things as being gone for good, irretrievably lost, perdido in Spanish or fafaln in the Yiddish that I grew up with. The Yiddish word literally means “fallen”; in both the Yiddish and the Spanish, there is the implication of “damned,” or “lost to a place from which there is no return.” So this is not just any fall, but the Fall, as in Adam and Eve.
The idea of resurrection seems to cancel out all that. It is a word infused with hope to its very core; the concept implies that nothing is so lost that, under the right circumstances, it cannot be brought back to life. The Bible teaches us that the right circumstance for rescue of lost causes is an extreme measure of faith.
Most of us associate “resurrection” with the events immediately following the death of Jesus. However, the concept is first established in the Old Testament.
Arguably the best known incidents of resurrection are Jesus’ raising of Lazarus in John Chapter 11 and the prophet Elijah’s revival of the son of the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17:17-24. Interestingly, the Hebrew names of Elijah and Lazarus are very similar, the former being Eliyahu (“my God is Jehovah”) and the latter being Eliezer (“God is my help”). Elijah himself had no need of resurrection, as he was transported to heaven alive in a whirlwind by a chariot of fire. 2 Kings 2:11 His protégé, Elisha, performs a resurrection upon the son of a Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:31-37.
The “never say die” ethic inherent in the concept of resurrection implies that there is always hope, that nothing is impossible. Occurring in the spring of the year, Easter and Passover are festivals celebrating renewal at a season marked by the “rebirth” of plants upon the warming of the frozen earth as well as the appearance of a new generation of animals. The egg, which figures prominently in the customs of both holidays, is the very symbol of fertility and regeneration.
However, resurrection implies not only a physical renewal, but a spiritual one as well. This time of year can be viewed as an opportunity for second chances born of self-examination. If we take a good, hard look in the mirror and do not see the person we had hoped for, there is no time like the present to make changes. If we have veered off the path, now is the time to make corrections and return to the right road.
This is a good time not only to count our blessings, but also to make a renewed effort to bestow them on others. Let us not forget those who are more unfortunate than us, as inconvenient as it may seem to give of our time and financial resources. If we have become jaded by the vicissitudes of life, now is the time to resurrect our ideals.
Just as our prophets did in the Bible, we too can perform resurrections by providing the gift of hope to the hopeless.