You can watch the video of Pastor Kris’ reflection, Cultivating: Transformation, HERE.
Note: At the beginning of worship, Pastor Kris showed us the image of a plant which was brown and brittle. Throughout Holy Week we have been listening to the story of Jesus’s betrayal, arrest, crucifixion, and death.
Kris poured water into the bowl in which the dried material rested, representing the tears that were poured out by Jesus’s family, friends, and followers. Waters of grief, lament, and remembrance – all birth waters of something new.
Hold this image in your heart as you read the Easter sermon. Be filled with wonder…
Did you know: Resurrection comes in all shapes and sizes? It really does. Yes, today we celebrate the Big Revelation of Jesus’ resurrection. That is Big News, Good News, we cannot dismiss. Yet God causes resurrection to happen all around us, all the time. In ways large, and small.
I can give you LOTS of examples, but I’ll start with just two. Two resurrection stories which embody:
- All of the foretelling of future events Jesus shared with his disciples
- The initial confusion everyone around him experienced,
- and then the revelations which began to emerge, not unlike what Luke writes in today’s Bible reading
Each of these experiences draw on tiny snippets of God’s Truth along the way. Small moments which individually do not make any sense at all, but when pulled together over time lead to a new understanding. A remembering. For God continually plants resurrection in our midst… even when all we see in the world around us is the grief of death on the cross.
The first story begins with a flurry of text messages I began to get last October. A member of Memorial sent me a text which read, “Hey Pastor Kris – I have a surprise gift for you. Just wanted to plant that seed. Hee hee.”
A flurry of clues and emojis followed:
- “Another hint: It’s beauty is to behold as it unfolds.”
- Trying to be funny I responded, “There are so many things in nature that unfold… and my laundry.”
- The text I received in response was, “You are getting warm and I am not talking about your laundry.”
A few days later this clue appeared”
- “It goes from a baseball to a frisbee.”
The mystery thickened with a text which read:
- “New hint: It is of biblical proportions.”
- Or in other words, “I will rise.”
The text messages continued for months. I received hint after hint. And it seems I am not so good at putting clues together. At the same time, each Sunday we have been reading Jesus’s teachings from the book of Luke. I found I had a lot of empathy for the disciples, as they never seemed to get what Jesus was hinting at… even when the clues appeared to be really clear to us today. The disciples and followers of Jesus weren’t getting it. I was having the same trouble with the text messages I was receiving.
This we-are-not-quite-getting-it-yet feeling continues and deepens as the women go to Jesus’s tomb this morning. They. Are. Grieving. They gathered for the sacred act of tenderly caring for Jesus’s dead body. The gloom and heaviness of the morning air matched the brittle pain breaking their hearts as they walked. As their tears flowed. Luke tells us the women were there, faithfully at the crucifixion. Watching. Witnessing as Jesus was killed by state authorities (Luke 23:49). They watched as he suffered. They saw him draw his last breath. They were there when his body was taken down from the cross. And as night drew near, the women walked with the body, Joseph of Arimathea and others to a tomb that Friday (Luke 23:55). They held sacred space as the body was placed inside.
All this unfolds before our eyes today as well in the testimony and video recordings shown at the trial of a Minneapolis police officer this past week. Personally, I could only watch the news in small bits as raw emotions told the stories of the women and men who stood on the sidewalk that evening last May and watched George Floyd die. Their tears flowed. They watched as he suffered. Drew his last breath. The site on the street where Floyd’s body lay has become a memorial. A sacred place for remembering. Remembering that Luke describes “the people (who) stood by, watching; (as) the leaders scoffed at him…” (Luke 23:35, NRSV).
The city of Minneapolis grieves again. We. Grieve. Again.
Remember the pain. The tears. The heavy steps towards the grave.
And then return. With all of the horrors of death swirling about… return to the hope and Good News. Remember. Remember Jesus’s words—Life rises again. We do not even need to understand what God is doing, because resurrection is already happening. The transformation of the world has begun. In ways both big and small.
Overlaid with the 24-hour news story of the trial in Minneapolis, there has been Good News emerging. Places in which the stone of impossibility has been rolled away. Resurrection happens—even if we think it is an idle tale.
Thus, I have one more story to tell. It happened just this past Monday, March 29. It is a calendar date which I will mark forever as a pivotal day in my pastorate. The day began simply enough. Going through Holy Week, I was looking forward to the day after Easter. I have been fully vaccinated, and will be two weeks out from my last shot.
So, I called two people. One, at 98 years of age, is the oldest member of our congregation. The other person I called, also in her 90s, is the person who has been a part of our church community the longest—over 95 years. I called them, and scheduled the first in-home visits I have done for over a year, since the Safer at Home mandate was issued due to the coronavirus. Not only did I schedule these home visits and others, but I am also going to be taking them communion. Communion! Something else we have not been able to do in person… safely… for many, many months. And I so cherish the opportunity. And it is so simple. Just bread. And juice. But yes… it is also transformative. It marks a resurrection.
In a moment, we too will gather at the Table. Virtually. I invite you to taste the Good News God wants us to retell—that we can be like the women who retold the story generations ago, we can be perplexed, terrified, or like Peter are amazed… and it is OK if we do not fully get what God is doing. Resurrection is like that. It happens whether we understand it or not.
Oh… and all those text messages I started getting in October? If you remember, at the beginning of worship I showed you a baseball sized plant which was brown. Brittle. Dried.
Take another look…
This is a Resurrection Plant, or Rose of Jericho. A desert plant, a small bit of water transforms it. This is the gift I was given. The gift God continues to give. The mysterious story of life.
I leave you with another gift, and ask you to watch for signs of resurrection in the days ahead. Be filled with wonder. If you experience a moment with the Holy you would like to share, I would love to hear it. For in ways big and small, God’s story continues.
Watch it unfold.
Reflection on Luke 24: 1-12 offered April 4, 2021