Waiting in the darkness before Easter...

I got two notes this morning that touched me in different ways - more clues that God really is urging us to ground ourselves in this beautiful but challenging community and be a part of it all: the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows. The first is a poem by a retired clergy person who worships with us - a man who has served God's people faithfully for a long time - and also known his own share of sorrow.

The most beautiful line
in the resurrection narratives
is punctuated with poignancy:
Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
Mary Magdalene had followed Jesus,
was a faithful disciple of her Lord.
Mary Magdalene was crying;
two angels stood in the empty tomb.
"Woman, why are you weeping?"
Why? Can’t you see?
His body is missing! Moved? Stolen?
Mary’s emotions centered on tragedy.

It’s a fascinating thought—the empty tomb—
for us, the sign that Jesus of Nazareth
has risen to become Jesus the Christ.
But Mary did not yet know.
Our world loves the empty tomb,
celebrates the empty tomb
with all the joys of Easter,
proclaiming "Christ is risen!"
And I join the glad response,
"He is risen indeed!"
With song and speech and the Easter crowd,
I celebrate Easter, God’s great victory.

And yet I stand weeping with Mary,
looking into the tomb that is not empty,
the tomb that holds the beaten bodies
of the world’s sacrificial victims—
The emaciated starved bodies of children,
the rape-ravaged bodies of women,
the tortured bodies of political prisoners,
the torn bodies of young soldiers.

Then the gardener approaches Mary and me,
the gardener, caretaker of God’s good Earth,
the gardener, dressed in working clothes,
with his tools in his hands.
and the gardener says to me, "Luther!"
Jesus says to me, "Luther!"
And he says, "Here, take this spade and hoe,
and join me in cultivating this garden, our Earth."

(As you read the last verse substitute your name for mine.)
Rev. Luther C. Pierce
Easter 2009 - Resonating scripture: John 20: 1-18

So true, so tender and honest. The second came from a Facebook friend who worshipped with us on Good Friday. She wrote: as I sat in the candlelit, Spirit-filled, love-drenched little room last evening, it felt very early-Christian to me. But mostly I think it felt like an early house-church experience because it captured the mystery, and honored the ageless reality of darkness as well as light in our world and lives.

In an age that aches for mystery but simultaneously hates it - in an area of the country where more and more people are leaving organized faith traditions in search for something deeper (see Newsweek's current issue) - and in a community long wounded by economic uncertainty... I can see small signs of the light as we wait together in the darkness for Easter. This all feels to me like Mindy Smith's breakthrough song and prayer...


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