Readings for Easter Sunday are here
Thoughts toward a sermon:
The thing I notice about the Easter readings this year is how all are so resistant to seeing the Risen Christ. Resurrection seems to be impossible so they cannot see it. New life, when we are used to the same old same old, is invisible to us. Peter in the has to be awakened by his dream to see the new thing God is doing. He is so entrenched in his belief system that only the horror of God asking him to eat the repulsive unclean food can shock him into awareness.
Peter and the beloved disciple return to their homes after seeing the empty tomb. Their eyes are closed to any other idea than what they always knew. The tomb is empty - reason tells them - some one took the body - probably the terrifying power of Pontius Pilate's soldiers. Pilate had such a terrible reputation in those days that even Rome finally removed him from office. Go home and lock the doors lest this happen to us too.
Mary Magdalene, who knows the healing power of Jesus in her life - the freeing of her from her seven demons, does not want to leave the site where she last saw Jesus body. Lingering in the garden (In the Garden - is Magdalene's song), she encounters a person she believes is the gardener. Echoes of Adam and Eve in the garden remind us of the time when we lived in wholeness and right relationship with God, walking easily with all creation. God was the gardener there and here beside the empty tomb God in Christ appears as gardener. Magdalene cannot see this at first, her preconceptions and grief blind her to the resurrection standing before her.
These stories are our stories. The needs of daily life, the sorrows, the demands can shut down our senses to God appearing all around us. Life paves over us like the asphalt paves over the the earth. We can get in the habit of going through the motions of life and not really living in the fullness to which God calls us.
A few weeks ago I read about children in Haiti who make kites out of plastic bags. You know those bags - you see them hanging on the barb wire fences wherever the wind has blown them. I don't know about you but I see them as trash, an eyesore and I think - why don't people dispose of them properly. And it is true they are bad for wildlife and form great rafts of trash in our oceans. But in the midst of all the tragedy of Haiti - the children see a kite -- a toy that helps they soar in the sky when all around them is death. They take a few sticks and the flatten the bags for the kite then they tie the other bags together to make the string - and out of nothing - joy.
A favorite poem of mine is Manifesto: The Mad Farmer's Liberation Front by Wendell Berry. The last line is Practice Resurrection! And I believe that is a good idea. When we are children we are alive to life - have you ever walked with a small child. No point in trying to get where you are going - they see everything with the new eyes of a child. The least little stone is a delight and something to be explored. Every step you take with them is all new when seen with their eyes. Things you never noticed in walking that same old path is alive with newness.
So today as we go out to "rejoice in the power of the Spirit" let us also "rejoice in the power of the Resurrection" -- allow God to open our eyes to the places of resurrection - new life - that are all around us.
The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage, copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry
PS - today as I pulled up the blog to add to it - I noticed that I had comment moderation on and there were all these unmoderated notes. What a joy to read them and discover more thoughts added to mine, thoughts that stretched back to last fall attached to things I had forgotten I had even said. It is an example of how closed up I can become - not even seeing resurrection that is right here, now.