Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Monday

What do you do on Easter Monday, the day after you peer into the tomb only to find that the world doesn't work the way you always thought?  What do you do the day after everything changes- when old plausibility structures give way to new possibilities and God's surprise unsettles your life?

Today, I walked into the sanctuary at Spring Creek to sit and pray.  It was dark and silent.  Most of the Easter Lillies had been taken home, and those that remained looked far removed from yesterday's grandeur.  No children were running around the sanctuary in suits and dresses they hardly wanted to wear.  The hallelujahs were no longer echoing off the walls, and the trumpets no longer blasted through the air.  No preacher was diving in over his head, trying to explore an event that continues to astound and stupify.  The stillness of the sanctuary felt a world away from yesterday's celebration.  There was only silence.

And yet, the silence was a strange silence.  It wasn't an empty kind of silence, as if there is nothing to say. It was a full silence, saturated with meaning, as if no one had to say anything.  It wasn't the dreaded silence of God-forsakenness but the sacred silence of God's presence.  Somehow, there was peace in the silence.  There are times in life when you stand in the shadows of some transcendent mystery and the only proper response is silence.  For a preacher, who is expected to say the right thing at the right time, the necessity of silence can feel more like a curse than a gift.  Nevertheless, today I sat in silence because resurrection is something God, and God alone, has done.  It does not depend on my imagination or articulation.  It defies my expectation and theological categories.  It resists my attempts to tame it and explain it.

So today, I crossed a few things off the calendar, caught up on some work I postponed during holy week, and helped coach a T-ball team.  But right in the middle of the day, I sat in the sanctuary in silence.  It just felt like the right thing to do on Easter Monday.

What do you do on Easter Monday?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Holy Week

So it's Good Friday, and we're nearing the end of holy week.  This week introduces many internal conflicts to me.  The supreme meaning that each new day brings is only paralleled by my inability to understand, much less communicate most of that meaning.  The sacredness of each moment is confronted by the busyness of my schedule as a pastor.  The somberness of Good Friday quickly gives way to children's Easter egg hunts on Saturday morning.  This week is full of conflictions for me.

Perhaps the greatest conflict I feel is embedded in the story itself.  On the one hand, the evils of the world and the most vile habits of humanity are crystal clear in these days.  The fickle nature of public opinion and majority stances is illustrated by the praises on Palm Sunday and the derision on Good Friday.  The blatant betrayal in the name of money as Judas bowed to the root of all evil.  The shallowness of a friendship that forsook the other when Peter denied Jesus.  The corruption of Jewish and Roman powers who sentenced an innocent man to death because his truth brought their claims into question, his righteousness brought light into their shadows, and his power threatened their sovereignty.  Most of today's despairing news seems propelled from the vortex of these disturbing stories.

Yet, in the midst of this darkness, stands Jesus- the light of the world.  His life was compelled by the heart of God rather than public opinion.  He was not deterred by warranted praise or unjust blame.  He was true to his purpose even though it cost him his life.  He stuck by his friends when they were hardly worth sticking by.  He confronted the corruption of his day without mirroring the evils he opposed.  He broke bread with those who would betray and deny him.  He forgave those who crucified him.  He befuddled those who attempted to interpret his actions through normal canons of logic.  Intertwined with the depravity of this week is a love, peace, and justice that overcomes all.

This is the source of my greatest conflict this week.  I don't know whether to break out in holy laughter at the joy of it all or break down because of the terror.  I don't know whether to praise or confess.  I don't know whether to celebrate or mourn.  Maybe doing all of these things would be appropriate.  Perhaps my angst stems from the fact that I wonder where I fit in the story.  To be honest, I could have been anyone in this story.  Perhaps even more than wondering where I fit in the story, I wrestle with the entirety of the story in me.  The whole story lives in me- ALL of it.  My betrayals and mockery- my righteousness and depravity- my struggles for power and forgiveness.  The entire story is in there.  Sometimes, I wonder if it's possible to have holes in your hands while holding the hammer at the same time.  I don't know, but I wonder.