This is a continuation of the Tuesday Reflection series, "The Problem With Pain." Enjoy.
The preacher took to the podium, clothed in Easter white. It was resurrection season, she said, then paused, wearing a smile that quivered at the edges. After the kind of cleansing breath you might find in a yoga class, she shared this truth: resurrections happen only from graveyards.
The last year was a hell of a year, she said, and this was not to curse so much as it was to tell the truth. It was the year that threatened to do her in. There had been trauma, pain, the death of a dream. There had been days in bed, sleepless nights, and the fasting that is born not of spiritual fervor, but of spiritual darkness. There was a niggling question--was this great story of resurrection true?
She personified the crypts, the tombstones--[tweetherder text="Ashes to ashes, dust to dust; if the cancer don't get you, then the people must."]ashes to ashes, dust to dust; if the cancer don't get you, then the people must. [/tweetherder] She shared her most vulnerable moment, perhaps one of her most human ones. But then the story turned. She spoke of the brothers and sisters, the ones who cooked her meals, who stroked her hair and sat by her bed in the darkest nights. She told of the light they carried, the faith of a grave pregnant with hope, with resurrection.
She paused, choked, wiped her eyes. It was her friends that brought her into the light of resurrection, she said.
I've heard approximately 38 Easter sermons in my life. Each as generic as the one preceding it. This one was different. It was human. It was honest. It was the one I won't soon forget.
Last night, Amber and I hired out childcare and made our way to a tiny venue on the south side of town. A band of forty-some-odds called Listener brought their act down from Kansas City, rogue mustaches, leather jackets, and all.
The crowd was decidedly twenty-some-odd, a group of boy-faced grad students who'd come to shake their fists and bang their heads to rock poetry. They excused-me and yes-sirred as they pushed past me in the crowd, pencil thin mustaches twirled at the tips, tight-cuffed jeans choking the blood supply from their pencil legs to their ankles. These were the polite punks, the sort of kids you hope you kids turn out to be if your kids turn out to be punk.
He took the stage, set the house on fire, and when the cinders were good and hot, he brought it down to a simmer. The most honest words filled the space.
"Well I'm the barely living son of a woman and a man who barely made it; But we're makin' it, taped together on borrowed crutches and new starts; We all have the same holes in our hearts; Everything falls apart at the exact same time it all comes together perfectly for the next step."
It was a song about resurrection in community, about the ways in which we lead each other from the graveyard and into the next right step. It was the Easter song for this youngish crowd, a crowd that might not have experienced enough death to be ready for the truth--everything (everything, everything, everything) falls apart. But the truth was there, even still.
When everything falls apart, we need each other. [tweetherder]Falling apart and falling together are sometimes the same thing.[/tweetherder]
The problem with pain is its promise--it is the sinking ship that gives way to the need for rescue. It's the house fire that clears way for construction of something more grand. It's the death that makes resurrection possible. Thanks be to God, it's the flesh-and-bone community that makes resurrection a reality.
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