Tari Stage-Harvey is the pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. (Photo courtesy of Tari Stage-Harvey)

Tari Stage-Harvey is the pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. (Photo courtesy of Tari Stage-Harvey)

Living and Growing: Thoughts of jellyfish during time of holy mystery of death and resurrection

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

We had the opportunity to take our German exchange student to Florida in February so he got to see a little more of the United States than Alaska. He was happy for the warmth and sunshine.

My favorite thing is walking the beach looking at shells and people. This year included a lot of jellyfish. They were everywhere on the shore and let me tell you they are gross to step on. Even though these jellyfish were obviously not immortal, it did get me thinking about immortality.

So there is a jellyfish called the immortal jellyfish. It is about the size of your pinkie fingernail and one science article describes its “dying” process as “the immortal jellyfish follows the early steps about the same as other jellyfish, but when it’s time to die, the adult does something very peculiar. Instead of dying, it reverses its life cycle, shrinking down to form a ‘cysto’ sphere that attaches to the seabed and develops into a new polyp. This polyp then creates mini jellies, like a repeating cycle.”

It can keep doing this process without end or until it gets eaten or washed up on shore. Yep, this is what goes through my mind when I walk the beach. And then I started thinking about Jesus.

We are entering the time of the holy mystery of death and resurrection. My professor in seminary said that our theology begins with the resurrection. It is in the empty tomb where we witness what is eternal. Eternity is not death, but it is the love witnessed in the person of Jesus. The women came to the tomb expecting to anoint a body and they are met with news that “He has been raised; he is not here.”

I’m not sure what the resurrection looked like other than people recognized the risen Jesus when they saw the love. There are so many times when I’m tempted to imagine that the violence, retaliation, and hate are eternal because the ripples are so expansive. The good news of the cross is that all those reactions of hurt for hurt are swallowed up in the love poured out on that Friday. God refuses to play the retaliation game and reveals power and violence for the futile tools they are.

I think through the options of what can hold the weight of eternity and I’m left with jellyfish or love. I’m voting for love, but even if it’s jellyfish I can still confidently say it is not the rage, vengeance, or hostility that too often look like they have the upper hand in our world.

The holy mystery of death and resurrection is my favorite time of year, but it is also the ground and hope of my being.

• Tari Stage-Harvey is the pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Saturday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.

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