They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat... - Isaiah 65
Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who toldthe apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. - Luke 24
Dear friends -
Pardon me if I substitute "Day of Resurrection" for the more common word "Easter" here. It's just that I Googled "Easter" yesterday, looking for a resonating image for this mysterious Holy Day. And all I got was pictures of rabbits and colored eggs. This experience put me off my feed a bit. I love eggs, and I love bunnies, but there is more to this sacred time than fuzzy, cuddly indulgences.
No matter what kind of understanding we bring to this preposterous idea of the bodily resurrection of Jesus - and there are many such understandings - the simple truth is that none of us understand it. If Mary, Mary, and the other women ran to us from the empty tomb and told us such a story, we would most likely, as did the other disciples, regard their news as an idle tale.
No we don't understand this astonishing story. Some of us take it as it's told, and we are in awe of the kind of faith that permits such an understanding. Some of us have had the mystical experience of knowing the presence of someone we love who has died. We might see this as an example of resurrection; yet no one I know of has been able to produce a photo of this departed person's physical presence So it is a resurrection colored with imagination, reverence, and holy hope. Nothing wrong with that. Others of us hear the story as a metaphor - a poem of abiding love. Others among us just scratch our heads and mumble, "What the heck is this about?" Probably that's what those bewildered disciples thought, at least at first.
But something happened on that strange morning of the Day of Resurrection. How else would the disciple Peter have changed from an uncomprehending, bumbling, fickle follower of Jesus into thegiant spiritual leader he became? How would Paul, who wasn't actually present during Jesus' life, have changed from an active and vicious persecutor of the early Christians into one of this new faith's earliest and most articulate teachers? How would Augustine have morphed from a self-indulgent cad into one of the greatest early Christian theologians? How else would Dietrich Bonheoffer have mustered the courage to stand up to Hitler against a tide of cowardly complicity? How else would have... ? The list goes on and on.
And the 'list' bespeaks a mystery beyond our understanding.
When we don't understand something, we often either dismiss it, or we call in the experts to help explain it. The richness of Christian faith can be walked away from, but it cannot be dismissed. Many have tried to do so; even many Christians have managed to wear the label even as they dismissed the depth of its call. How sad; how ultimately futile and wasteful.
But there are no experts to explain this thing we can't understand. Maybe the best thing is not to try to understand it, at least not in the way we commonly seek to understand. When we pull it apart to examine its individual parts, we can never get it back together; there will always be a few screws and washers and springs left over, whose absence render this mysterious thing unusable.
But we can sing about it. We can imagine that the resurrection's gift to us is a glowing ember of sureness that hatred, violence, and betrayal - the very essence of the evil cross - do not have the last word in God's Kindom. And we can ask, of ourselves and each other, how we are called to be in the world; how we are called to bring the triumph of kindness and forgiveness to a world that aches for just this, even as it acts contrary to the call of kindness.
And we can do this together. How sweet and rich our voices sound when we sing this vision as one voice.
Join us. Many will gather at echo Hill in East Craftsbury at 6:30 AM to sing this song to the rising Son. And we will gather again at 10 AM at the Church on the Common to sing again. And again.
And again. No matter how you imagine it, the Sun and the Son will rise. Sing to this Son with us. He is one of us. He is us. And he returns.
Resurrection Sabbath blessings-