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Pastor's Notes from The Scribe (April 2014)

posted Apr 2, 2014, 6:19 AM by Russell D. Hampton

“When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew,* ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher).” ~ John 20:14-16


The other day, I was walking through the halls of First English. I came to the narthex and noticed the colors of the large stained glass windows cascading onto the wall.  I had seen this effect on many numerous occasions, but that day I decided to stare up at the window.  I meditated on the Victory Lamb that is at the center of the stained glass motif.  This lamb is marching triumphantly, with a crown adorning his head and a flag resting in the crook of his arm.  Of course, this lamb represents Jesus Christ, the sacrificial lamb who died for the sake of the world and who was raised by God in order to crush the powers of sin and death. 


I had just finished the book Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint, by Nadia Bolz-Weber, when I took my walk through the hallways.  In one of the chapters, she describes a time she preached in front of 10,000 people at an Easter worship service in Colorado.  She was preaching on the resurrection text from John’s gospel.  During her sermon she proclaimed, “Easter is not a story about new dresses and flowers and spiffiness.  Really, it’s a story about flesh and dirt and bodies and confusion, and it’s about the way God never seems to adhere to our expectations of what a proper God would do… Jesus didn’t look very impressive at Easter, not in the churchy sense, and certainly not if Mary Magdalene mistook him for a gardener.” 


During my meditation on the Victory Lamb, I started to think how we beautify the resurrection.  On Easter Sunday, the brass communion and altar ware are used again during the liturgy at FE.  Crisp, white paraments and lilies adorn the chancel, altar, walls, pulpit, and cross.  We put out extra candles to light up the worship space.  We play triumphant, loud music. Many of us might dress in our “Sunday’s best” to attend this worship service.  Easter is the day to celebrate the beauty, glory and joy of God’s triumph over the sin and death.     


Nevertheless, our baptisms into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ do not exempt us from the imperfections of this world.    We are still called to engage with a world that is filled with faithlessness, messiness, chaos, ugliness, deficiencies, weakness, you name it.  Some of these things we might even find within our own lives.  Just because we are transformed does not make us perfect.  We have not been made new in Christ to be perfect.  We have been made new to walk the path of the cross.  The cross was a symbol of punishment, shame and death.  Granted, we will (most likely) not face the degradation of crucifixion.  However, we will face those imperfections and we will be called to enter into them.  We are called to meet people in their needs; to not pass judgments but to be the presence of Christ; and to proclaim that God gives life, forgiveness and salvation.  As Christians, we are “in this world but not of it”… but we are still in it.  We are still among all the people of God’s creation.  We are still in the midst of sin, darkness, and death.  God will be with us to lift us out of our own darkness and sin – we have been assured of life, forgiveness, and salvation in our baptisms.  But then we are sent into this world – amidst the chaos, darkness, sin, messiness – to bring the light, life and grace of God in Christ to all.  Let us remember this mission as enter into the holy season of Easter.


In the Name of Christ – Pastor Maureen