Tuesday Reflection: Resurrecting Wooden Hearts

This is a continuation of the Tuesday Reflection series, "The Problem With Pain." Enjoy.

1.

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.

2.

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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.

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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]

3.

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.

Resurrection is a community event. Did you know?
Happy Easter.
Reflective Exercise:
1. Consider the graveyard of your life. Did resurrection come from it?
2. Who were the people who walked with you through the dark season? Who was your community?
3. List your graveyard community on a sheet of paper. Consider reaching out to them to say thanks.

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Tuesday Reflections: The Problem With Pain (For Holy Week)

Most Tuesdays, I offer brief reflections, and for the bulk of 2016, I've been exploring the Problem of Pain. In the Church calendar, this week is Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. It's a week to look at the darkest hour--the hour humanity murdered God--but it's also a time to explore the promise of pain. (Psst--resurrection is coming.) Come along?

***

The Christ rode in on an ass's foal, the people lining the streets, shouting "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" King, King, King, they shouted, murder in their hearts even then. Jesus was a dead man walking; he was welcomed by the praises of the would-be lynch mob. He knew this, even then.

After the parade, Jesus shared a private moment with his disciples. "Truly, truly," he said, "unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." Death and fruit; parent and offspring--this is the way of life.

I'm considering this passage of Scripture today (undoubtedly because it is the scheduled lectionary reading), and it's an unpleasant contemplation. Pain? Death? The truth is, I'd rather like to spend the bulk of my life avoiding pain. The crush of the job, the death of a loved-one, cancer, mental instability, abuse--these are only some of the daggers life has to offer. And aren't we taught to avoid the seedy bars, the biker rallies, the places where daggers might be slid through our ribs?

Life isn't that plain and predictable, though. Life hides behind every bush, jumps from alley shadows and stabs with impunity. Pain--even death--is unavoidable. It is a natural part of the life cycle.

But here come the words of Jesus. Pain, he says, is fertile soil. It is the cracking of the coat, the pushing of new life through splitting seed. It is a path--the path walked by Christ himself. Pain and death bring resurrection if we let it.

Easter is coming. Resurrection, too. They always do.

Reflective Exercise:

1. Identify a present pain point in your life. Write it on a piece of paper.

2. Consider how living into this pain, how accepting it as a gift might allow you to see with new eyes. Consider how it might bring you new life, or at least a new perspective on life.

3. How will you use this pain, and the resurrection from it to help others who might be a step behind you on the road of life? Write your answer to this question and keep it in a safe place. Revisit it from time to time.

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