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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Suddenly Surprised

Every year I am surprised by Spring in that there is usually one day when I look around and all the trees are green.   It seems to happen overnight, and of course I know it doesn't.  The process from bare-limbed dormancy to full foliage activity, from bud to blossom to leaf is gradual.  Yet each phase has it's own illusionary suddenness about it.  In the same way we look into the sky and see a moon that has suddenly become full.  This illusion of "suddenly" may just a reminder of our general inattention to what is going on around us all of the time.

As in nature our lives don't just "happen."  We are continually in a process of becoming that which we often describe and experience as coincidence, happenstance, or even providence.  Our reactions and responses to events, thoughts, and emotions are usually examined in retrospect when we find ourselves wondering how we got where we are, or how did this or that "suddenly happen."

Perhaps this is what revelation is - the sudden awareness of something that is already here and has been in the process of becoming.   But, what if revelation is also continual awareness of the same processes, enabling more conscious responses and reactions which in turn shape and influence the "surprises" along our life pathway?

Maybe this is a way we can hear Jesus when he talks about fig trees, and sowing seeds, and lilies of the field, and mustard seeds, and red moons, and...   Maybe he is simply telling us to pay a little more attention to what's going on around us so that "suddenly" doesn't catch us by "surprise" so often.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wistful Dreaming

In the small southern town where I grew up we lived most of the year with windows open in our house. This not only let in fresh air but also the sounds of the world.   One of those sounds was that of trains coming through town in the middle of the night.  We lived about a mile from the railroad track that ran through town parallel with main street.  In the still of the night not only could I hear the train whistle, long before the train got to town, but also the rhythmic clickity clack of the cars on the track.   Both sounds would eventually fade and gave way again to crickets or perhaps the pitter pat of a spring rain.

This is the time of year in Washington DC when we sleep with windows open.  As I fall to sleep I can usually hear the click of footsteps coming and going on the brick sidewalk sometimes accompanied with snippets of conversation.   There are passing cars and of course the occasional distant, or near, sirene to which we become so accustomed in the city.  

Early this morning about 3:00 am I was awake to hear the soft song of a gentle spring rain on the window sill,  and then there it was - a train whistle transporting me to a time when pressure cookers provided supper, nails were used to build houses, ball bearings made bicycle wheels turn smoothly, and only soldiers had machine guns. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

No Longer and Not Yet

The story is the same story we’ve told for two thousand years.  If there is anything new to be heard, it will be because we are ready to hear it.

The tomb is empty. And all of the disciples are left amazed – and wondering what’s going on.  Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, Peter and all the rest of them find themselves in a place where their understanding and experience of life up to this point is no longer true but they are not yet sure what will take it’s place. 

Jesus’ empty tomb is the quintessential "no longer" place– Death is to be feared no longer. 

The amazement of the disciples is the quintessential "not yet" place– the potential and possibility of encountering and experiencing the life giving presence of God in the Risen Christ anytime, anywhere and in anybody – including themselves.

But, what does this all mean for you and me?  Is resurrection just about going to someplace called heaven after we die, or is there something else?

Perhaps the real question is – do you fear dying? How many times have you imagined your own death, or literally been fearful for your life?  Most of us have. And if you haven’t perhaps you need to take some time and imagine the world without you in it. 

The empty tomb gives each of us the freedom to just go ahead and die – get it over with – so we can go about living the fullness of this amazing thing we call life.

The empty tomb of Easter is a reminder of the countless moments of our lives when all that has gone before is no longer and all that lies ahead is not yet.

Without the fear of death – what remains?   Freedom, Potential, and Possibility. The not yet of resurrection waits to be lived and told by each and every one of us. 

It’s the same story it has always been, but it is not over and never will be. The Risen Christ waits ... inviting us into the not yet of our lives.

Today's message is excerpted from my sermon "The No Longer and Not Yet of Easter" given this past Easter Sunday. 

You can hear the entire sermon here.