Wednesday, March 26, 2008

free spirit

Easter is now past, and we have to figure out what it means for us. (See, on Easter, there's plenty to do: stories to tell, eggs to search for, lilies to smell, feasting, singing, joy. It's the days after Easter that it begins to sink in. Resurrection.)

One of my all-time favorite poems ends with an invitation to "practice resurrection," which I think it s a delightful reminder that this Easter transformation is powerful not because it happened once, 2000 years ago, but because it's happening all around us. Jesus, in rising from the dead, connects us to the reality that we cannot be bound by what seem to be the obvious boundaries of this life. Instead, we're invited to share in his kingdom--a wild, wonderful reality that means joy and peace and wholeness for everyone. And all creation.

The kingdom looks crazy. Which is way, I think, our scripture for this week from the book of Acts begins by defending the actions of those early followers of Christ. They're not drunk, Peter says. They're just filled with the spirit.

God's Spirit is so wild and life-giving--and I really treasure the story in John's Gospel that we'll read this week, too. Jesus appears to the disciples, in the midst of their fears. (They locked themselves in a room because they were afraid of what might happen to them.) Their locks are no barrier for Jesus. He comes on into their room, and breathes onto them. This is important: ghosts don't breathe. Only real people with lungs can breathe. And his breath--his spirit--is a sign and offering of peace.

I'm looking forward to what the Spirit might do in our Water's Edge community this year, and am hopeful that you'll be a part of it. I hope to see you Sunday!

(Our mosiac is looking good, too--come see how our broken pieces fit together into something beautiful!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


It's a rich week in the life of the church. We remember and mark Jesus' death, and, on Sunday, celebrate his resurrection.

I hope you'll come worship with our congregation. There are lots of times to gather in worship this week. I'm especially excited about the Easter Eve Prayer Pilgrimage on Saturday, starting between 7:30 and 9 p.m.

The story of the first Easter tells of startled friends. They came to Jesus' tomb, expecting him dead, but were met with something entirely outside their frame of reference: a risen savior. Jesus' resurrection is something entirely different--it's not just like when Lazarus was raised from the dead. Jesus was resurrected to a new kind of life, which never dies.

I think it's so wild that Mary mistook Jesus for a gardener. There were glowing angels, too, but something about Jesus' appearance remained sufficiently humble that he could look like the gardener. What grace--transendence and humility. God, doing more that we ever could have expected or understood, and yet seeming so much like us.

Perhaps this Easter season calls us to contemplate the ways were are able to share in God's resurrection--ways that we might over look or mistake for something as ordinary as a gardener. And yet, we find in our very midst a sign of God's love which overcomes all boundaries and fears.

Come celebrate that with us this Sunday! Bring friends, or even enemies.

(Bring your flowers, too--we'll build a resurrection garden from the flowers everyone brings. Bring potted flowers, ones cut from your garden--whatever you have.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Big Week

This week begins a big week in the life of the church--Holy Week, we call it.  Our annual re-entry into the story of Christ's death and resurrection.  And, it all begins with a parade into Jerusalem (see above).

The stories of this week are SO rich.  I treasure them.  When I was in middle school, my brother and I discovered Jesus Christ, Superstar; forever, now, I hear these stories sung in rock opera style.  They are full of rich symbolism, dramatic and complicated characters, all of whom could be played in wonderfully diverse ways.  (Yet another exciting aspect of our scriptural tradition is that it gives lots of room for interpretation--for voicing these same words in very different tones.)

Many of you were with us on Ash Wednesday, when Mark Price took on the character of Judas, imagining the words he might choose to help us understand his own choices and actions in these stories.

And, I confess, I'm always tempted to spend lots of time and energy on these things--it's fascinating to me to imagine staging these scenes.  

This year, though, I feel called to resist some of this temptation--and not to spend time pondering how I might put on the costumes of these stories, but to spend time pondering how I might put on the identity I find in taking up my own baptismal vows.  Putting on the water of baptism.

I hope you might consider this, too--how are we called to live differently, in the light of Holy Week?

I also hope you will come worship with us.  Palm Sunday at the Water's Edge will be grand.  Then, during the week, come to worship at Vespers at 5:30 p.m. in the sanctuary on Wednesday, Holy Thursday worship at 7:30 p.m. in the sanctuary on Thursday, Good Friday worship at 12:10 p.m. in the sanctuary on Friday.  And, I really hope you might come to our Easter Vigil Prayer Pilgrimage on Saturday, beginning between 7:30 and 9 in Trotter Chapel.

Certainly, come join us for Easter worship celebration at the Water's Edge on the 23rd!  Bring friends.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

being real, and letting it set you free

I'm sorry for my absence these past two weeks; I got consumed by other things, mostly the departure of my husband whose service in the Army Reserves requires a second deployment to Iraq.  My priorities have been turned on savoring time with him, and I let the blog go.

I think Jesus would have felt my pain.  This week's scripture, the story of Lazarus being raised from death, gives us a glimpse of his own grief in the midst of loving human relationship.  "Jesus wept," or so one translation of this famous-for-its-brevity verse goes.

This year, I'm especially touched by this reminder of Jesus' humanity--he felt the pain we experience in the finite nature of human life.  

And yet, he dares us to see beyond.

The story we'll read this week ends with one of my favorite images: having just (loudly) called Lazarus back to life and out of his tomb, Jesus then commands others to "unbind him, and let him go."  

What a bizarre scene--so filled with the details of the experience of human life and death.  Martha, always the practical one of Lazarus's sisters, warns Jesus about how much dying stinks.  Literally.  And yet, even out of the stench and the tears of death, Jesus calls us into life, and invites us to be unbound.

It is as if Jesus is preparing us for what's to come through his own death and resurrection.  This week's story is an odd foreshadowing, but really will be nothing like Jesus' resurrection.  After all, Lazarus is simply called back to human life as a delay of the death of his body.  Jesus resurrection doesn't postpone his own death--it transforms it completely.

But we can only begin to be ready for that transformation if we start to loosen ourselves up--and allow ourselves to be startled out of the troubles and grief we find ourselves enmeshed in.  We need to be ready for something completely beyond what we expected.  

Jesus is showing us that he's a part of something mind-blowing.

AND YET, he's human.  Weeping along with the others.  Feeling the pain of the frailty of life.  And, even as he grieves, points us elsewhere, toward amazing possibilities.  (It would be so much easier to just retreat into a self-protecting mode, wouldn't it?)

Jesus calls us to unbind Lazarus, and let him go.  I pray that we will all have the daring hope--even in the face of human pain--to let the Holy Spirit go, and bring mind-blowing grace into our midst.