A Touch of Encouragement

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Dear Friends of A Touch of Encouragement,
My name is Brandi Harkonen; I’m one of the people who work behind the scenes to help bring you Martha’s inspirational messages each week. I’m writing to let you know that Martha hasn’t been feeling well lately, so unfortunately, we won’t have a new video to post today. Instead, we are posting a written blog from Martha so you can still have your regular dose of encouragement this holiday season when many of you are celebrating the coming of spring and either Easter or Passover. Also, if you haven’t seen her video “Easter in Black and White,” check it out. It’s a wonderful tribute to everyone who has taken the leap of faith to believe that the impossible is always possible through God.
Martha joins me in wishing you the best during this special time of year. Please rest assured Martha will be back making new videos very soon, and maybe you’ll be hearing from me again as well!

Is He Really Risen?

I was just thinking about what I could say about Easter that hasn’t been said before. I recalled the Easter Sunday when I made a choice between writing a philosophy paper or spending the first gorgeous day of Spring at a brunch and an Easter egg hunt with my friends in my last year of college. I don’t remember what grade I received for that philosophy paper, but still regret walking down that green Berkshire hill and leaving my friends behind that beautiful morning.
I remember another Easter brunch about ten years ago. I was sitting outside beside a lake with a new friend. He looked out at the families arriving at the restaurant after church and said “I’m a Christian, too, you know. I think Jesus was amazing.”
I looked up. Was? Jesus was, or is?
He shrugged. “Well, I mean, I don’t buy all that resurrection stuff, of course. That just had to be a lot of propaganda the disciples made up to keep the faith going in the early years.”
I smiled and put down my hot cross bun and said quietly, “So, you don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead.” He laughed and said “Well, come on. Nobody rises from the dead.”
That, I told him, was the point. Nobody ever had before. Nobody has since. But if one Someone did, then that’s the guy I want to know.
“Well,” he said. “I’m just not a person of faith, I guess.”
“Oh, but you are,” I said. “You have great faith. You’re putting all your faith in the belief that Jesus died on the cross and never lived again. You’re betting that a bunch of his friends decided to create a lovely fairy tale and chose to be crucified or stoned or executed horribly just to keep that fairy-tale going rather than back off and say, “hey, okay, it was just a bunch of propaganda.” You’re counting on the possibility that a successful, educated guy like Saul gave it all up to become Paul, a prisoner of Rome, just to perpetuate the myth of his face-to-face meeting with the dead man he reviled. You’re rejecting the chance that the Unseeable, Unmeasurable Energy that keeps your heart beating and your mind thinking and your love growing will somehow disappear into nothingness at the instant that your body dies. You are trusting that all you know about life is all there is to know. That’s a lot of faith, if you ask me.
In my case, my faith is pretty simple. I just trust God. I trust the answer I received when I got down on my knees and asked “Is it true?” I trust the peace I have carried with me ever since. I trust the joy I feel every Easter when I call my sisters and say “He is risen” and hear the words back “He is risen, indeed.” Maybe my faith is simple, but the best things are. I don’t believe God would make His love so complicated that only the educated philosopher could comprehend it. It has to be available to everyone or it means nothing. I think that’s called a categorical imperative. I think I wrote a paper on that once, in fact. Once, on a beautiful Easter Sunday.
By the way, the man I had brunch with? He prayed that prayer. He got his answer. He was baptized a year or so later. And then he married me.

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