Practicing Resurrection in the Medicare Years

By Rev. Bruce G. Epperly, Ph.D.

One of my favorite Easter poems is Wendell Berry’s “Manifesto: Mad Farmer Liberation Front,” in which Berry counsels us to “practice resurrection.” Though written when Berry was in his thirties, this speaks to those of us in the Medicare generation, including “retired” or “flexibly employed,” as I describe myself, pastors, and church workers.

“Resurrection is liberation.”

“The stone is rolled away, and the artificial limits we placed on ourselves, and others placed upon us, can be transcended and transformed.”

Trusting life in the third act of our lives invites us to live with a degree of responsible abandonment and not be conformed to the once confining standards of our professional lives or society. Resurrection is liberation. Resurrection is freedom to follow God’s vision for us at this time of life. To be agents of wholeness for ourselves and the world. The stone is rolled away, and the artificial limits we placed on ourselves, and others placed upon us, can be transcended and transformed. We can be free to live out God’s vision without the constraints of a timeclock, budget, or church board or the expectations others have upon us. We can let Jesus breathe on us and receive the Holy Spirit, the wind and fire of resurrection and new life.

Berry counsels in words applicable to my own life and perhaps yours: “So friends, every day do something that won’t compute. Love the Lord. Love the world. Work for nothing.” Although I still take a paycheck for seminary teaching, pulpit supply, and talks and seminars, I have experienced the joy of volunteering in retirement as an act of love: being a greeter at church, teaching an adult faith formation class, reading to elementary school children, packing food items to be sent overseas. And, I can simply have fun, without embarrassing my grandchildren too much!

Easter is the liberating season. When the stones of limitation have been rolled away, we can respond to another poet Mary Oliver’s question: What is your vision “for your one wild and precious life?” Lord knows, we need passion to energize our third act and the passion may lead to wildness, at least in terms of our previous constraints. Now, in this third act, we know that each day is precious and life is a miracle not to be squandered by minutia.

We can come alive with the resurrected Jesus. We can explore new possibilities. We can act as if the lives of future generations depend upon it...because they do. We can protest and also pray and use the wisdom of our years to bring prophetic healing to the world.

tomb rock

These days, I am asking myself, what would mean for me to “practice resurrection” in the concrete world in which I live with atrocities in Israel and Gaza, 300 million global migrants and hatred fomented for migrants on our borderlands, rising racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism, and the denial of climate change and the chants of “drill, drill, drill”? How might I see myself as being like a cocoon ready to burst forth as a brightly colored butterfly flapping its wings and by that flapping changing the spiritual and political weather patterns in Washington DC, and across the nation? How might I be a catalyst for the butterfly effect?

Practicing resurrection is an invitation to agency and affirmative living. We may be a bit slower on our morning walk, hold onto the rail as go downstairs, and feel the aches and pains of aging, but resurrection says that within our limitations, many self-imposed, there is abundant life and possibility beyond our calculation.

Christ is Risen! The stone of limitation is rolled away! This is the day that God has made and we will rejoice and be glad in it! Practice resurrection!

Bruce in wind and water Cape Breton 1
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, pastor, and author of over eighty books, including “The Jubilee Years: Embracing Clergy Retirement,” “101 Soul Seeds for a Joyful Retirement,” and “Jesus: Mystic, Healer, and Prophet.” He may be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..