Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Second Sunday in Easter: The gates of hell, loosed


There are those days when the universe just seems to slip out of gear. Today is one of those.

Stephen is practicing today’s hymns as I arrive. Cara arrives shortly thereafter. 
No Andre today. Attendance will be small. Not unusual for the Sunday after Easter. No small rolls at Barney Greengrass today so a bialy will have to do for communion. That’s a new one. 

The two large mirrors that appeared out of nowhere are still against the wall.  

There will be visitors. An Asian man and Kathy and Don, two of Amanda’s friends from Seattle. Don is an artist with a show currently open on Long Island. Cara overjoyed to meet friends of Amanda’s.
Goddess Sculpture by Don Haggerty at the BJ Spoke gallery, Huntingdon, Long Island

Just as we’re beginning, Marc discovers there’s no juice coming to the Zoom recorder so we’re int searching for extension cords, etc. Now we can begin.

Today I’m talking about how Easter is not just a day but a season. Easter continues. Not just one Sunday.  A season. It runs 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. In this season,we have time to examine evidence concerning the resurrection. And to explore what resurrection living, living resurrection means...

First....the disciples have heard Mary’s testimony,  that she had seen the Lord..but they apparently haven’t believed it because they’re still behind locked doors. ( It says for fear of the Jews....the actual word there  is ioudaiou, literally Judeans...there’s a Galilee/Judean split here...but more accurately, we should say religious authorities, or...well, it’s a problem...but be very clear, it’s not about Jews qua Jews, not our neighbors nor any historic Jewish community...the use of the word Jews in John has been responsible for centuries of anguish and suffering of the just can’t read this aloud unless you’re willing to talk about it)

Then...Jesus  suddenly do they know him? He shows them his hands and side...I want to come back to that...He breathes on the breath of Spirit...the breath that blows across the primordial waters of creation....this is like creation beginning again...this is John’s Pentecost....

Then, the situation with Thomas...the so called doubting Thomas...he won’t believe it til he sees it...until he touches it, feels it ...and so Jesus shows him, invites him to touch...

Jesus shows them...and they believed....the question is, what do we need to believe? For Mary, it was the sound of her name being called in a way no one else could. For these disciples, it was the wounds of Jesus...

This is what I want us to was Jesus’ wounds that made him who he was...identified him....even though he was resurrected, and apparently able to pass through walls...what convinced them was his wounds...

As for  Thomas, he wanted to see ....and touch....the wounds convinced him. His wounds make Jesus who he is. And we who we are. His wounds enable others to believe....and ours? What happens to our wounds?

Henri Nouwen, one of my teachers at Yale,wrote of the wounded healer....that’s us.....our wounds make us who we are, even as we have been healed....

As Henri wrote, 
The man  who articulates the movements of his  inner life, who can give names to his varied experiences, need no longer be a victim of himself, but is able slowly and consistently to remove the obstacles that prevent the spirit from entering. He is able to create space for Him who heart is greater than his, whose eyes see more than his, and whose hands can heal more than his.

To acknowledge our wounds is not to hold on to them but to allow them to be transformed into the means, the process of our own healing and others...

We do not continue to hold on to them in the identity of victim, but allow ourselves to be transformed...we see Jesus’ wounds in each other...and we see as well  the resurrection...the stories are all around us...

Our wounds make us who we are. But they can be transformed into instruments of healing for ourselves and others. That is one reality of resurrection living.

In closing, this week marked the 45th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr....we need to make sure that his memory is not tamed...that his passion in pursuit of justice continue to transform.....

During my sermon, I hear Christopher come in and walk the length of the balcony and back. I recover from that only to see that the graybearded man in the cowboy hat has entered, raising my anxiety. He does come forward for communion.

We end the service as, always, with our circle.

Cowboy hat disappears. Cara comes up to tell me that he’s smoking something in the men’s room. She wants to be empathetic with him as she with all prime numbers, as she calls them. But....As Stephen and I go to check it out, he’s coming upstairs. I say he’s got to go, he says, I drove the smokers out of here, chief. How can they accuse me of doing what I condemn? Consider the source, chief....He goes outside, circles back around and back in the front.

(What I really want to be doing is talking to Amanda's friends, taking time for them to really understand the church, the Center....but...)

I’m informed he was cooking up smack. The people from sanctuary are starting to arrive. The mirrors are part of a worship set they’re constructing. Cowboy hat is back playing repetitively and intensely on the piano. We’re talking to Sanctuary folk about the mirrors. Someone trying  to enter the church house has been stopped by someone else who is suspicious and protective so that someone is now complaining about the other person who is complaining to me about the other person. Jeffrey from Sanctuary and I are trying to get them outside. 
Sorry. Yes I know. But you can’t talk about that here now.
And the Cowboy hat. And I look up and Rudolfo is standing in the middle aisle with a confused look on his face and Rachelle is on her way in looking for storage space. I have to get out.

I step outside. Stephen follows me. The gates of hell have been loosed, I say. He laughs. And nods. The whole group, cowboy hat and all, are still in the sanctuary buzzing around. Stephen asks, What are we going to do? And I say, the way I see it, it's time for the 2 o’clock service. I’m done.

So we meet to talk about his plans for concert negotiation and other contracts. I look inside the sanctuary, Sanctuary is about to begin. I am going to walk slowly, very slowly, home....

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