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Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter at West-Park


3/31

Early Easter


Easter Sunday. It’s sunny and mild.  Anna’s in front of the church with puppy. On her way to the corner bodega. I ask her to get me a cup pf coffee and a roll for communion while I go in to pick up the grape juice and a cup and programs. 

I come back out and we walk the two long blocks to Central Park West. Going at a pace appropriate to puppy’s explorations. As we get to CPW, I look across the street and see Cara waiting. We sit on the benches on the northeast entrance to catch our breath. 

Just as we’re about to walk up the hill and into the park, Rachel arrives. I’m overjoyed to see her. She’s been so frustrated stuck at home.  I always associate her with this service.  She’s accompanied by Joe, her handyman, who fixes her crib, as he puts it. We walk up the hill together and into the stone outlined entrance to the vanished All Angels Church. 

I’m beginning to tell the history when Don arrives. With a friend. And I tell the story of Seneca Village. Buried, along with its history, in the making of Central Park. What was called a place inhabited by  squatters and ne’er do wells was in fact a vital village of 300 homes, 3 schools and 3 churches. The first place in the city where African-Americans owned property and voted.  Later joined by German and Irish immigrants. And this church was the first to be truly multicultural. History doesn’t remain buried...stories eventually emerge...like these stones...the very stones will cry out....

The first time I did this with Katherine, she asked, and what will be the altar? And I said, the people will be our altar. I tell this story and Rachel offers me the seat of her walker to use as an altar. We pray the inclusive Lord’s prayer from the New Zealand prayer book. And share our communion.

I share stories of the year I was alone and tweeting the service when I was joined by an artist I had married in the Park. Of circles of people joined by the ubiquitous dog walkers and occasional park rangers. Rachel remembers the year the area was fenced off and we used her nail clippers to cut through the orange plastic fence until the police came and pushed us back to the sidewalk. Lots of memories....

Don is on his way to China again, his friend to Paris. 

This is the day that the lord has made,let us rejoice and be glad in it...

Joe walks Rachel home. Cara and I on our way to set up the church for Easter. 

                                         * * * * 

The black removed. The white comes out. More candles.
the table
And the Cristo Rey from Cali, Colombia, a gift from the Sanchez family,  is back on the table. 

I’m in my office working on my sermon. Cara outside sweeping. I hear a commotion, look outside, and it’s Edward Green, I catch my breath, ready to engage, but Anna has handled it.  I’m anxious about who will come. But in the sanctuary, I hear Andre giving Stephen a music lesson on the hymns of the day, and I smile, this is a good sign. 

There are visitors. African-American families and children. Latinos. I’m happy to see Steven, his wife and son Xavier. (one of my baptisms...)And Isis from Dzieci gives me a hug...relaxing. OK, it will be OK...and my son Dan...
Stephen,s family

After reading the Gospel, John 20: 1-18, with a Mary who weeps, I have Andre sing a little O Mary, don’t you weep don’t you moan...
Glen, Tony and Andre

And when I didn’t know what to preach, this is what I said...

No you tube. No I phone videos. No newspaper, aol,Huffington post, cell phone shots......so how do we know? How do we know the Resurrection is real?

Each biblical witness is their own unique narrative...this is one is John's....

We start with Mary....it was still dark..she couldn't wait..sees the stone rolled away...goes to tell Simon Peter and the one Jesus loved...linen wrappings lying there...cloth "rolled up in a place by itself"...not what a grave robber would do...something else has happened.....he saw...and "believed"...just from the cloth...

and then they went home...and then what? apparently told no one...said nothing to anyone.....what?  

So, now Mary back again...when did she come back?  and she is weeping....why? because she had no chance to say a farewell?Did she need closure? Was she feeling  empty as a tomb?  Already we have  signs of two special intimacies...the one Jesus loved and Mary Magdalene

There's something  here in these intimacies, especially Mary’s... that goes beyond messianic expectations.....this Jesus was someone who was loved ....as a human ....as a man....

She sees two angels...and is not surprised..was she used to seeing angels? She speaks to them like  orderlies who have stripped a hospital bed ( Barbara Lundblad said that)  and then...there is Jesus....Mary  is the  first person he appears to...and she doesn't recognize him...why? Has be been changed?
but check this out....she thinks he's the gardner...Jesus is resurrected, but....no halo, no glow, he looks like the simplest of people....a gardner...

She still wants to claim the body...which only a next of kin could do...

And his answer is one word...Mary...her name....and then she knows...he says it like no one else says it....can you hear your name...like your mother, your father, your teacher,your friend, your lover...says it? Can you hear that?

....John 10:3-4   the shepherd calls his own sheep by name...

and then she knows...and says rabbouni...teacher...so he had taught her...bible, theology, she like a seminary student....

and she must have grabbed hold of him because he says  do not hold on to me...
how do we try and hold on...creeds? confessions? denominations? doctrine? buildings?
and then she goes to tell others..she is the first witness...

So what do we do with this?.

Barbara Lundblad (whose teaching has informed much of this reflection..says there are three witnesses....one sees grave clothes and believes
another sees the same thing and there is no indication he believes anything...
another assumes he's been taken away and is surprised into resurrection at the sound of her name...This could have been a more  simple story....John leaves room for us...
one who sees and believes
one who sees and leaves uncertain
 one who needs to hear her own name

which are we? which one are you?

Our greatest evidence is this ...we are here....we have come in affirmation....with our own questions...let the stones rollaway from our own minds...let us hear our own name...not holding on...where we are....but willing to go where he will lead us...

And we do not go alone but together with brothers and sisters who will go with us...

We are the evidence....

We finish by singing Jesus Christ is risen today...then form our circle....a big circle today...and the service is over...

Conversations. Hugs. Greetings....

Outside there’s a man in a wheelchair. It’s me, Sean, he says...I had to come by here today. This is where Teddy saved my life. If he hadn’t gotten me to the hospital, the gangrene would have kept going. I’d be dead. Teddy saved my life. I had to come. 

We talk. He’s had to choose between prosthetics and an electric wheel chair. He’s chosen the chair. 

I put my hand on his shoulder. Say, thanks...

On my way. With Dan. To meet Andrea and Nate for a family Easter meal together. 

Alleluai, Christ is risen.
Christ. is risen indeed. 



Los Santiago y los  Meneses y Brenes


Stephen, Glen, Leila, Berik, Andre



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