All of church today was about practicing resurrection. The singular question posed to the youth during Sunday school today was “what does it mean to practice resurrection.” To which none of us had a response. Stumped.
How do we incorporate something so beyond our comprehension, something so miraculous at its heart, into our a life of spiritual and religious practice and disciplines. Or in the other sense of the word, how do we repeat the event until it becomes a skill, becomes something at which we are adept?
In order to know how to practice something, I’m supposed to understand exactly what it is I’m attempting to do. How can I practice raising from the dead. But there has to be more to resurrection than that. I suspect resurrection would mean very little if its meaning centered on the particular miracle of one man’s empty tomb. What else is going on in the resurrection; what does it really mean for us?
We read through the resurrection passage in John, and it began to click. He appears to the women, to the men, to his friends. And he says in the voice which must have sounded both resoundingly familiar, and hauntingly out of place, “Peace be still”. He promises to them the kind of peace that the world cannot give, the kind of peace that surpasses all understanding, the kind of peace that is so real its presence is the Holy Spirit.
Resurrection, the whole thing of Easter is a message of hope. We sing on Easter morning “Where O death is now thy sting?” and it’s tough in world enamored of gore and violence, and one saturated in innocent death. But we sing, we sing with the confidence of a peace and a hope in restoration and joy.
Jesus appears saying that he must ascend to the Father. The promise of resurrection is the promise of presence. It is the promise of the risen Christ with and among us, alive and restored. It is the promise of the presence of the spirit, the spirit who brings the joy and peace of the creating, redeeming and sustaining God. And ultimately it is the promise of the presence of the God of Heaven and Earth, the admonition to practice resurrection means to practice hope, joy, forgiveness and ascension.
The gift of the presence of one another, of the practice of ‘being with’, is in truth that very still and quiet realization of the prayer ‘On Earth as it is in heaven.’
To practice resurrection, then, is to practice the fulfillment of our faith. Without the resurrection—the particular miracle of one man’s empty tomb—we would not have the hope and joy to face the darkness and bleakness that does in truth threaten to take life from us. Without the Resurrection, we would not be able to seek resurrection—to seek peace, and forgiveness, to sow seeds of love and hope—in the midst of small griefs and sorrows around us.
In our bulletin, a selection from Wendell Berry (a favorite for our worship bulletins) has been used recently. Here it is:
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.