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Archive for April, 2010

… grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit… – from the Collect for Easter Sunday, Book of Common Prayer

Easter confuses me.  Today is the day of celebration, the ultimate day of joy.  Why then, do I sometimes feel so blah?

Because the Risen Christ is not the same as the walking, talking human Jesus.  I have gained a savior but I have lost a friend.  Mary Magdalene was the first to understand that mixed sense of joy and loss, which grows on each of us as we let it.

Leonard Cohen was on to something when he wrote those profound words:  “love is not a victory march, it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah…”.  And in the midst of this irony it is up to us to find (and extend) the peace of Christ, the peace that passes all understanding.

JW – There’s lots of irony here, yes there is.  We have change, the most reliable constant in our lives, yet most of us approach it as though it was a slightly bad odor, if not worse.  God created us in His image, yet we aren’t quite perfect.  … “And God saw that it was good.”, so He must have done that on purpose.  All that irony and so much more.  Perhaps the confusion is all in our heads.  Perhaps the key is in the words “…passes all understanding.”  Perhaps we aren’t supposed to be in our heads at all, trying to suss it out.  He wants us to be in our hearts.  Peace, Joy… Love.  It’s all there, in our hearts.  It has been… all this time.  He gave us the table.  He set it.  He provided the bounty on it.  Let’s go eat.  I’m hungry.

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They also serve who only stand and wait. – from “On His Blindness” by John Milton

They also serve… Waiting is one of the hardest things we do.  It seems so useless, only intensifying the helplessness.  No wonder people fall asleep in waiting rooms.  Sleep has been called “the best bridge between despair and hope”.

And on Holy Saturday we stand on that bridge… and wait.

It ought to be anticlimactic – like I’ve skipped to the end of the chapter, and know already that my hero has triumphed.  So why am I still reeling from yesterday’s agony?

Because I was there at the cross.  And I am not the hero.  I am one of the rescued.  The best I can do for Him is wait.

JW – I’m ok to stand and wait.  I’m pooped.  This journey through Lent has been quite something for me, and it’ll be a while before it’s all sunk in.  But I’m grateful to have had the gift of reflecting in this way, learning what it’s like to be really loved, and what responsibility I’m asked to bear.  Today, I’m at the wake, the vigil, still confused about what’s happened; wondering what comes next.  The miracle is knowing that I’ve brought to this event, what I can bring; myself.  The miracle is knowing it’s a journey.  Things will change, unfamiliarity can become my friend, I will always be able to depend on the guidelines.  Tomorrow will be noisy, full of celebration, yet still confusing.  Because the journey, looking different, will continue.  So today is quiet enough for me to say thank you.  I’ll still be here tomorrow, but I’ll probably be celebrating as much as reflecting… I may even get a little noisy.  So.  Thank you.

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Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross… – from the Collect for Good Friday, Book of Common Prayer

I don’t care what we call it, there’s nothing GOOD about it.  Except in God’s economy… which rankles.

I understand (sort of) that Jesus’ humanity meant that he would suffer pain, our pain, human pain.  But there’s pain and then there’s PAIN.

Good Friday makes me physically ill.  Thoughts of torture curdle my stomach and the vague possibility that I could or might ever be tortured… well, I can’t think about it for long.

So pondering this atrocity, which I must somehow transform into a gift to me and for me, is too much.

Look at the ways we have chosen to torture each other, mentally and physically, and we haven’t been at all horrified.

Maybe that is part of what Good Friday is about.  Why isn’t it working?

JW – It’s a conundrum, this horror we face every year.  God’s plan is sometimes way too big for me to understand.  And I have to accept that I can’t unravel the mysteries of the plan, faith, all that is bad about how we act; what we are asked to do about it.  It’s too big.  I just have to keep trying, in my own little way.  A couple of years ago I wasn’t even doing that, so something’s working.

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I give you a new commandment:  that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. – John 13:34

A new commandment?  What’s new about us loving one another?  We already had that commandment, right?  Love God and love one another.  Wrong.

Jesus said, “Just as I have loved you…” and in that subtle phrase lies the difference between generous charity and selfless commitment.

It’s a difficult and thankless job, to always be the servant and not the served… to constantly put another’s needs before our own.  Those of us who have cared for aging parents or children or siblings with disabilities know only too well how drained we are by these obligations.  Jesus’ lesson, I think, was that we (like him) could transcend the heavy and wearying sense of duty by approaching this commandment with the eyes and through the heart… of love.

JW – I bet the passage from John could be read as, ‘I give you this commandment again, and again, and again’… until you get it.  And God gave us the biggest reminder He could think of; the life and death of His only son.  This and the first great commandment recently saved my life, literally.  So I could use way too many words describing how I feel, but I won’t… just this one – love – will do.  This small, often-repeated, easily remembered, one-syllable verb is the big one here.

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