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We are looking for new writers and would love to have you join the team. Please email Rev. Bob Dean and include a writing example.
April 23, 2023 — Third Sunday after Easter
Acts 2:14a, 36-41; Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Luke 24:13-35?
By Rev. Katie Dawson
When Natalie Sleeth wrote, “Hymn of Promise,” she was inspired by a line from T.S. Eliot who wrote “in our end is our beginning.” In the seasonal newness of spring, what should we remember about the nature of life and death? So many of her compositions remind us that resurrection looks like songs rising from silence, shadows becoming light, and death giving way to the victory of life.
As our Psalmist cries out in today’s lesson: “the snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.” And yet, the Lord hears us and the psalmist is able to give God praise. In the lesson from Acts, the crowds of people are convicted and “cut to the heart” – but the story of how they failed and crucified their own savior is not the end of the story. The good news of God is proclaimed that they could repent and be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit.
Even the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus experience transformation. They fled Jerusalem, leaving behind what was lost and dead and abandoned. They plan to make it to Emmaus, but we aren’t exactly sure what their plan is after that. And on this journey as they reflect on how it all seemed to fall apart, they find the risen Lord.
One of the things I appreciate about Sleeth’s work is that she doesn’t paper over our grief or discomfort or pain with flowery words. She dives right into them and acknowledges them with words simple enough for a child to proclaim. Before she talks about how wholeness and life and peace are on the horizon, she creates room to name the brokenness and death.
There are a lot of bad news stories out there. From mass shootings at banks and schools, to the continued undermining of support structures for our vulnerable neighbors, ongoing war and conflict, increased division, disaffiliations, inflation… the daily grind is taking its toll and we are either becoming numb or overwhelmed by it all.
When Easter morning has come and gone, those painful realities of the world still exist. They are all around us. Nothing appears any different. But maybe the story of Easter is a reminder that the good news is not an instantaneous fix, but an invitation to enter the pain of the world and continue to trust in God.
Like a mustard seed planted in a garden or yeast hidden in flour, Christ was “destined before the foundation of the world” but is only being revealed later (1 Peter 1:20). The good news breaks forth out of what we thought was dead, buried and gone. Our God takes every broken and painful moment we experience and redeems them. They don’t go away; they are transformed. Not immediately, but with time and work and patience and not a little bit of grace and power and glory.
The mustard seed becomes a great tree. The bulb begins to bloom. The twelve disciples become three thousand. Resurrection is what happens when those who were dead and hopeless and defeated and gone stand up in the love and grace of Jesus Christ. When we thought the story was over and victory was firmly in the hands of death… love bursts forth from the grave and says, “Not today, Satan.”
And resurrection continues to happen when we take up the life and the mission and the ministry of Jesus Christ: When we die to ourselves and rise with Christ in baptism. When we commit to resist the forces of evil, injustice, and oppression in the world. It is the church showing up to sing in the ashes of a burned building. It is challenging the powers that be who seek to stifle life. Resurrection is entering the prison; mucking out a flooded home; sitting with the dying.
Sleeth dedicated “Hymn of Promise” to her husband, Ronald, who had just been diagnosed with cancer, and he asked that it be shared at his funeral. Even when death and grief and pain surround us, we can practice these promises of resurrection. We can not just point to the good news, but we can be agents of God’s amazing resurrecting love by going to those people and places the world has declared dead, hopeless, defeated and gone and we proclaim with our hands and feet and lips and hearts the genuine, life-giving love of God.
¿Le gustaría a Ud. escribir para el Memorándum?
Buscamos a nuevos escritores y nos encantaría si Ud. fuera parte del equipo. Favor de enviar un correo electrónico al Rvdo. Bob Dean e incluir un ejemplo de su obra.
23 abril, 2023 — Tercer domingo de la Resurrección
Hechos 2:14a, 36-41; Salmos 116:1-4, 12-19; 1 Pedro 1:17-23; Lucas 24:13-35
Por la Rvda. Katie Dawson