Sunday, April 19, 2020

ok, 3 sermons

(These are the three sermons I gave in 2005 on Easter: Easter Eve, 8 a.m., and 10:15 a.m. I don't know why they were all as one....but remembering what I did 15 years ago is pretty hard! The parts about the 'feminine' in us all and 'fear' seem relevant to today.)

          So we have sat in near darkness and heard the stories of salvation.
          Tonight is much like sitting around the campfire with the tribe and hearing the stories that tell us who we are and whose we are and who we belong to. Sharing the tribe’s tales.
          We have heard the myth of creation and the tale of the passage through the Red Sea. We have been to the Valley of Dry Bones and beyond to the calling of all people to the Kingdom.
          These stories, and the songs we have sung with them and the shadow silence we have shared—all that is enough.
          We should, by now, know who we are and whose we are and who we belong to.
          We belong to God. We are God’s children and God’s own beloved.
          The campfire is dying out. Night has come with earnestness.
          We long for something more—we lean toward new light, the dawn, new life.
          Once more and for always.
          Enough words have been spoken. It is time to be renewed, time to experience the resurrection, time to move on to Easter.
          Now we pass from darkness into light, from night to morning, from death to life. Just like that.
          Now we pass over into God’s joy and hope and wonder.
          Let there be Light! Let there be joy! Let there be wonder! Let there be Life!

Let the words stop and let us pass over to the celebration of the Feast of the Kingdom, the Heavenly Banquet, Easter.
          Alleluia, he is risen. (3 times)

8 a.m.
          It was women who met him after his resurrection. Go search the scriptures, go look at the gospels—women, always women.
          Always there is Mary Magdalene, she is always there in the gospel accounts. Sometimes she is with “the other Mary”—the mother of James, and Salome. But it is always and only women.
          Only women greet the risen lord first.

          Women are, after all, the givers of life—the mothers of us all. There is that. But I think there is more, much more that we must recognize and know.
          I think—and it’s just me thinking—that it is only the “feminine” that can initially recognize the risen lord.
          I don’t mean to leave you men out—oh, no—but I do mean to ask you to consider the “feminine” side of yourself.
          Carl Jung, the great psycho-analyst and philosopher in the first part of the 20th century, believed that all human beings had within them a masculine side and a feminine side. He wasn’t talking about “gender” at all, no not at all. He was talking about the two sides of every human being’s personality.
          The “masculine” in each of us, according to Jung, was the rational, thinking, rough and ready, active part of our personality.
          The “feminine” within each of us, was the irrational, feeling, compassionate and caring, passive side of who each of us are.
          Given Jung’s understanding of masculine and feminine—both of which are in all of us—it is little wonder that it was the women who met the risen lord.
Easter, 10:15, 2005
          Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
          I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.

          So, the women show up at the tomb—it is always the women, we need to notice and dwell on that, who see the resurrected Lord—and the angel tells them “do not be afraid.”
          Then, just after that, they meet Jesus, all alive again, and he tells them, “do not be afraid.”
          That is what Easter is about—not being afraid, fearing not, living in hope instead of anxiety, embracing the love of life rather than the fear of death.
          We are so afraid.
          We are so full of fear.
          And Easter is here to tell us, “do not be afraid”, live in hope.
          That poor woman in Florida, Terri Schiavo, longing to die…longing to die. And the whole nation is in an upset about her, the Congress and the President and all the Right to Life folks.
          We need not fear death. That is what Easter means.
          But most of us are so afraid of death that we value the technical definition of “life” more than we value “the quality of living”.
          “Do not be afraid”, live in hope.
          We are so afraid of terrorists that we turn against our fellow human beings because of where they were born or what religion they follow or what they believe.
          I read a story in a book the other day—a true story—about a couple who moved to a gated community in Florida. The complex was surrounded by walls and the gates policed by guards. And the longer they lived there—in this place designed to make the safe and sound—the more fearful they became. They came to fear leaving the compound and pass to the other side of the gates. They came to mistrust those who were allowed through the gates, even those who came to clean the pools and repair appliances and cut the grass. The more secure things became, the more fearful the couple became.
          We have become victims and prisoners of Fear since 9/11.  Fear is the “little death”—it robs us of the joy and spontaneity and wonder and surprise of living. We are locked in tombs of anxiety and fear. But Easter is about leaving our tombs behind. Easter is about Hope that drowns out fear.
          We have made a grave mistake, thinking “courage” and “strength” is the opposite of FEAR. If we can only be brave and courageous and strong and safe enough (we, as a people, we have convinced ourselves) we can overcome our all our fears.
          But that only involves us more deeply into fear and war and aggression.
          The opposite of FEAR, I tell you, is not COURAGE….it is HOPE.
          And HOPE is the message of Easter.

          Daniel Berrigan, the Roman Catholic priest and activist, wrote a poem about a clown mass.
          Clown masses were popular during the 60’s and 70’s. I did a few myself back in those heady days of hopefulness before our culture turned fearful and solemn. What would happen in a clown mass is someone dressed as a clown would shadow the priest—pantomiming the words of the service, acting things out, demonstrating the joy and humor we so often lose because we are so serious about the liturgy.
          It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Here’s how Berrigan’s poem ends:
                             The children ran together
                       At the clown’s sweet antic tune.
                            In wooden pews
                        The moody regents muttered woodenly.
                           At recessional, this was heard:
                     “Could Jesus have seen that, he’d have
                           turned over in his grave.”

          “Could Jesus have seen that, he’d have turned over in his grave….”
          We live in Fear instead of Hope, it seems to me, because we haven’t really believed Jesus got up out of his grave and lived again. We  haven’t really believed, not in a deep-down, bone and marrow level, in the Resurrection.
          I’m here to tell you Resurrection is Real.
          We need not be afraid.
          Life is stronger than death and hope is stronger than fear.
          Just that.
          Because of Easter we need not be afraid—life is stronger than death and hope is stronger than fear.
          That’s why we use Champaign for communion today. That’s why we wear bunny ears and use noise makers. That’s why we have bubbles. All of that is meant to shock us into believing that life is stronger than death and hope is stronger than fear.
          If that’s not true, we have nothing to hold onto—build walls and put up gates and be afraid of everything…..
          But it is true. It is true. It is true.
          Life is stronger than death and hope is stronger than fear.
          Just that.
          Leave your tombs of fear behind. Walk in the sunshine of Hope.
          He is risen….Christ is risen indeed…Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia….

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.