Dear friends,

I was very blessed to be in Japan recently and witnessed the blooming of the sakura. It reminded me of what Jesus said:

“Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24

The cycle of death and life is very evident in nature. It is true also of our spiritual lives. As Christina Gonzalez Ho says eloquently, “Before we can enter into God’s new life, we must leave our old one behind, and the only way to fully do so is to die. This, if we consider it seriously, is a terrifying thought—which is presumably why many refuse Jesus’s invitation to new life. New life sounds appealing, but death is what most of the world spends all of its energies trying to avoid. In reality, birth and death are both mysterious and incomprehensible in their own ways…Death and birth occur in the same moment: this is how we are born again.

Often, Christians speak of being born again as if it happens only once, at the “conversion moment.” Though this is true, it is perhaps more useful to think of the spiritual rebirth as something that happens on a seasonal basis, just as it does in nature. We are continually dying—shedding old patterns and ways of being—to receive new life from God: renewed relationships, renewed courage to take the next step of faith, renewed beliefs about God and ourselves, all leading to renewed love for God, ourselves, and others.”

Shalom,
Pauline

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