Saturday, April 11, 2009
Supposing him to be the gardener...
Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb, deep in her grief and loss. The one who had freed her of her many demons, who had given her back her life, whom she had followed and supported - he is dead. All who have experienced death of those we love, of the passing away of beloved times, can relate to this depth of loss. The story of God in human life starts in a garden. In the beginning... God walked with Eve and Adam, talked with them, they felt at one with God. They turned away from God to pursue their own lives and desires - they broke faith with God. As God makes garments to protect them on their journey, perhaps God wept into the threads.
Now we come to another garden and we are weeping. We know the terrible loss that death brings. We ache to be whole. Mary Magdalene think Jesus is the gardener and in a way he is - a gardener of our being - tending us and caring for us and praying us into wholeness. Even on the cross he stretches his arms out to us saying "forgive" - offering the path back to union with God.
Perhaps you have been far away, wandering from the faith of your childhood, perhaps you never heard the story of God's love for you and today you came out of curiosity or because a friend said, "Come and see." Or maybe your parents or your children brought you. Hear the words of Peter in the story of the Acts of the Apostles: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him." Jesus comes to free us from whatever keeps us from living and loving freely. The offering is before us calling to us - we don't earn it - it is grace abounding freely. Everyone, in every nation, in every state of life, everyone is offered the loving embrace of God. Our response is awe and wonder (as Acts calls it "fear") and the desire to walk in the path of Christ. But first comes the offer.
In the garden, Mary Magdalene, does not know who Jesus is until he calls her name. It is that naming that is symbolic of who we are - someone who fully knows us and fully loves us. That is the offer today and every day of the one who rose from the dead and shows us the path of life.
Readings are here.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Monday, April 06, 2009
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Today we start with one kind of parade leading into another. From the joyous Hosannas to the silence of the tomb. At our 8 a.m. service I had everyone read the Jesus' parts. Usually the congregations gets the "Crucify him" parts so I thought it would be a change for them to look at from the point of view of Jesus. I preached briefly on noticing who ministered to Jesus along the way. Noted that it is often the unnamed and unknown: the woman who spent her year's wages to anoint Jesus, Simon the Cyrene - a stranger walking through town, Mary Magdalen, Mary, and the other women at the cross, the rich man who goes in fear and trembling to claim Jesus' body. The people who are expected to help: the government, the church, his closest disciples - all actively seek to take his life or turn their backs on him in the end.
Afterward one of the men said - wow - that happened to me - I had a wreck on Main Street last week - my friends drove on by -- strangers helped me -- I think I need to start acting when I see help is needed (I know that he already does this but I think it reinforced the gospel for him).
We have to get that service done in less than an hour or the next group gets antsy. We did it but with the long Gospel - we stripped out everything else except the Blessing of the Palms (I told them to hold up their hands to get the palms of their hands as well as their palm fronds), the Prayers and the Eucharist.
I think it was good and all are set to meditate on the events of Holy Week.
Painting by Danila Vassilieff.