Monday, April 14, 2014

Await Easter with Confidence

Joanblog for April 14

Dear Friends,
            You and I are privileged to see Good Friday from the vantage point of Easter. We know the delirious shout of joy, Christ is risen, that has reverberated through centuries,
communities and individual lives.
            On this particular Good Friday, I invite us to step back from this side of Easter to stand in two places
            ~ to linger at the cross, and
            ~ to walk in the garden of the tomb in that time between Good Friday and Easter.
            It’s important for us to stay a while with the reality of Good Friday and not move too quickly to Easter, because as the theologian, Anthony Padavano says, “the cross is a gathering place for sorrow.” Padavano goes on “When Easter comes too quickly, it dismisses pain without healing it.” (Some of what follows is Padavano paraphrased.)
            Sometimes in life, pain needs to be held and sorrow needs to blossom.
            The psychic distance between Good Friday and Easter is immense. When we are in the Good Fridays of life, we may not want to celebrate Easter. We may need to embrace the cross and not let go.
            Of all Christian symbols, the cross is the most believable - believable because our God died on the cross. Our God does not take the easy route. Our God knows pain- the human pain of being alone, devastated, dying.
            God could have saved humanity another way. God chose this way, so that, in Christ, so that in Christ, our God could gather all the lost loves, all the lost values and shattered dreams of this world.
            God gathers all of your efforts and mine: wasted efforts, denied or destroyed efforts.
God gathers under the cross the children of refugee camps throughout the world, the betrayed and soldout sub-Saharan Africans, Syrians, Ukrainians, Venezuelans and tomorrow’s broken masses.
God gathers us as we weep and are forced to let go of life as we once knew it.
When there are no answers for our great sadness, we look upon the cross and we see Christ and ourselves, mirrored in each other.
At the cross, Paul says, we seem to be able to endure, because we, who know the cross intimately, are together with the one who makes the cross believable. And so we linger.
            But then, inexplicably, we are ready to move on.
            As salmon know when it is time to swim upriver,
            As hummingbirds know when it’s time to fly north,
            As we awaken from paralyzing sadness to greet the new day,
we become ready to walk into the garden of the tomb.
            Something in us is very sure that the cross is not the end
            The apparently vanquished becomes the victor.
            We recognize him – Christ, who reaches forward in history for us, also reaches backward into history as the fulfillment of every believer’s faith, every dreamer’s dream.

            The poet George Mackay Brown imagines what great elation lives in the great figures of Scripture on that Holy Saturday before His resurrection.

He went down the first step.
His lantern shone like the morning star.
Down and round he went
Clothed in his five wounds.

Solomon whose coat was like daffodils
Came out of the shadows.
He kissed Wisdom there on the second step.

The boy whose mouth had been filled with harp-songs,  (David)
The shepherd-king
Gave, on the third step, his purest cry.
At the root of the Tree of Man, an urn
 With dust of apple blossom.

Joseph, harvest-dreamer, counsellor of pharaohs
Stood on the fourth step.
He blessed the lingering Bread of Life.

He who had wrestled with an angel,                                          (Jacob)
The third of the chosen,
Hailed the King of Angels on the fifth step.

Abel with his flute and fleeces
Who bore the first wound
Came to the sixth step with his pastorals.

On the seventh step down                                                         (Adam)                       
The tall primal dust
Turned with a cry from digging and delving.

            Tomorrow the Son of Man will walk in a garden
            Through drifts of apple blossom.

Await Easter with confidence.