Sermon: "New Life"
Rev. Lindsey Carnes
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from May 1st, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
Last summer, my youngest daughter, Leah and I, and a friend, they had earned a special trip to Mackinaw island. They got that as a reward for selling a whole lot of girl scout cookies. And it was the first time in two years that we had gone on a big trip. And as we walked through this special butterfly enclosure house that they had at Mackinaw island, the butterflies floated around us, and they even landed like on our shoulders and on our heads.
And it felt as though we were emerging from this really long sort of COVID hibernation, into this technicolor induced reality, full of colorful flowers and butterflies and newness of life. As a little girl, I remembered walking through an exhibit on butterflies at the natural history museum, um, where I lived and I learned, you know, like, as you do as a kid, you learn about like all the phases of the butterfly from this Chrysalis to this amazingly winged thing of beauty that takes flight.
So, you know, as we all know, right, the butterfly. Spins itself into its own little cocoon, kind of like an ancient Egyptian mummy being wrapped up in the tomb and in the cocoon, it dies to its old way of being and becomes something extraordinary. And that's one of the reasons why the butterfly has long been a symbol of resurrection because the old being in us dies and what emerges is us in new life. But it wasn't until I became a Christian at the age of 16, that I fully appreciated what the butterfly could help us understand about the resurrection.
I've always had this image of what happens inside the Chrysalis, being something that's like nice and beautiful and calming, you know, but that's not what happens. When the butterfly cocoons itself away from the light of the world, it's like he rolls this tiny stone in front of the tomb. And first, you know, I thought that his little legs kind of sprout out of his body and then his little, you know, little inchworm, little being gains, its rigidity and finally its wings come. But that's not what actually happens inside that chrysalis. If you take open and you cut it open a day-old chrysalis, Inside, there's no more caterpillar and there's no more butterfly and there's no sort of like halfway thing, like a tadpole where like, you know, the little legs have started to come. The content of the Chrysalis becomes this white oozy goop.
And it turns out that when the caterpillar kind of enters this little tomb, The cells rupture, the muscles dissolve, and all that's left is this like amino acid and proteins soup. It's a pretty violent change. It's not this beautiful, like calm, slow metamorphosis that I imagined was actually happening inside the Chrysalis. In order to enable this new birth and one, the caterpillar must first be entirely broken down. And it's almost like the caterpillar experiences his own good Friday before Easter, but there's more.
There was a story that was on NPR a couple of years ago. And I had listened to the podcast just the other week where the biologists at Georgetown were talking about how they conducted experiments on these little caterpillars. And what they tried to do before, you know, they went into their little cocoons, is they, they tried to make them really repulsed by, you know, really horrible smells and sounds. And what they found is that as the caterpillars got accustomed to those, when they went into the Chrysalis and came out as butterflies, they still reacted to those same stimuli. They were repulsed by those smells, and they were repulsed by those different sounds.
So, I don't know if you get it, but like, even though the caterpillars get like almost entirely dissolved, there's something of their old selves that still carries into their new self as well. So, yeah, they are a new thing, but something is still consistent across that time.
Well, it turns out that as the caterpillar is kind of going through its life, it's actually kind of creating this thin skeleton of the future butterfly, this body that it's going to grow into for its entire life. Even though it's a tiny little caterpillar and we can't see what's happening, it's actually happening inside of its body.
So when it forms the Chrysalis and the caterpillar dissolves, the delicate parts of the butterfly have been carried into the Chrysalis and are pressed up against the papery sort of inside of the Chrysalis and with the goo and the amino acids and the proteins, the caterpillar starts, you know, that's in the center starts to dissolve and go away.
But they discovered, these biologists, that long before it kind of entered this Chrysalis, the microscopic, little seeds of where its butterfly wings were going to happen. We're already there. So even before the caterpillar’s destruction, its future self is already starting to live within it. So, when I think of Peter and Mary Magdalene, The beloved disciple and all the other women who are coming to the tomb, you know, we read about it in Luke chapter 24 and the other gospels as well.
I can't help but thinking of them kind of like these little caterpillars, their insides probably felt like goo, you know, when they showed up at the tomb and they panicked about the location of Jesus's body, it's not there. But even in believing who God was and who Jesus was among them, they didn't understand what had happened.
They didn't understand what Jesus had been telling them before, but Mary Magdalene and her little caterpillar state, she was also pretty overwhelmed and she didn't recognize Jesus speaking to her, mistaking him for the gardener, but then Jesus spoke her name. Mary! And Christ called her by her name and she knew who he was too. And then she realized what had happened. And yet we soon learned that even in rebirth the wounds on Jesus's hands and Jesus's feet remain. In his new life, there's still evidence of the old life.
Jesus is known and loved by Mary and the others. And he's still present. But Jesus urges her forth with the work that she's to do. And she runs to speak to all the other brothers, all the other disciples. And she’s to carry this news of the risen savior she's to proclaim this new familial relationship with God by declaring him the father of all. And in these moments, Mary's transformed. She's transformed into the shape of an evangelist, which means to bear or to bring good news. But it's something that has always been inside of her. And that's who she's become by being a follower of Jesus. The same thing happens for us when we have new life in Christ, what is old passes away, our insecurities, our fears, even our prejudices. The possibility of our new self has always been there, but it enters this sort of primordial ooze.
And then this new life that we have inside bursts forth, with the help of the holy spirit. So many people expect to feel different. You know, like on that one day, they expect to like wake up the next morning and realize that everything has changed or maybe the, the things, the patterns that are in their life will just automatically go away.
But I wonder, does the butterfly feel entirely different when it comes out of its cocoon? I don't know, but it is different. We're alive in grace because of God's work on that first Easter and every day since. We do become fundamentally changed and yet the possibilities of that new self, of that new life, the possibilities of that transformation have always been within us because that's where God is at work.
And the shape of our future self, the person that God is calling us and forming us to be is always within us. We know that we've been forgiven and so we stepped forward and we know that there's transformation and resurrection. So again, we step forward. We become the Easter people every single time that we wake up and we put on our shoes and we try again to do the things that God's called us to do, even though we failed the last time, we get up and we step forward and we try again, and it seems pretty farfetched sometimes that what works for butterflies could also kind of work for us imagining, you know, the work that's going on in our own souls, because sometimes the fissures between what we feel and know where we are and where God is calling us to be. Sometimes that chasm just feels too deep, but it's beautiful and it's true. Because if God can do this for a bug for an insect, how much more can he do for us who are created in the image of God.
If we want to see true beauty, we need to look inward at where the seeds of resurrection have not just been planted, but having grown within us, since we were knit in our mother's wombs and that's there right now, ready to grow and displays and dissolve those things that separate us from God and our neighbors to burst forth in diverse and radiant color.
And that's a hope, not just for Easter morning, but for every morning that we experienced as followers of Jesus, not that we have these little black little bodies that will die and then somewhere will be instantly something else that God's created. No, we're the ones that God has created and called by name in the gardens of our grief and our frustrations God is calling us and resurrecting us.
Even here even now, even you and even me. In Jesus, his own body was the word that had been and in Christ who will always be, and within us by God's own power, that resurrection is not just there for us today, but every single day, and God will continue to do that tomorrow and the next tomorrow, and the next tomorrow
Jesus's resurrection story is not just a biblical story that kind of stays in this book that we call the Bible, but it's also the story of our lives. Jesus is risen. So why not us? Jesus is risen. He is risen. Indeed. Amen