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Easter Sunday; You've gotta go through it.
The Theology of a Bear Hunt
I preached two different Easter sermons. One was for my church, and the other was for my beloved national speech tournament. Being asked is seriously one of the honors of my career. Not very many people in the speech and debate circuit are particularly religious so when Easter falls on the weekend of the national tournament they just roll with it. There are sometimes very funny jokes thrown in. But to be able to talk about the resurrection in partnership with an activity that made me who I am was really special.
It also meant I spent just a ton of time with the text, more than I usually do. I used the Luke version, which I don’t think I have preached before and a couple of things stuck out to me. First, only the people who were there through the suffering were the ones who understood the resurrection. The others simply didn’t believe it.
I have read that expanding your ability to grieve, to feel the hard stuff, to breathe through the pain, is the way to expand your ability to experience joy. It is as though the emotional muscle must be stretched both ways. The women who went to the tomb, just as fast as they could get there to honor the person they loved the only way they knew how, those were the women who were the first to catch wind of the miracle of new life. It isn’t an accident, I think it is a blue print.
I told the truth a few weeks ago, about the ways I was bruised and broken by the church, about the ways I cannot be a part of taking it on the chin for the glory of God in a time and place when the church is not being kind. It was hard to say. It felt embarrassing to admit how long I had been willing to quietly suffer in the hopes that next year would be different.
Telling the truth made me feel some of the pain I had been putting at bay. But it also opened up opportunities for me to dream again. If I wanted to get to the other side, I had to go through it. People of resurrection sit patiently with the pain.
And amidst that narrative of seeing it through and going through the pain there is this question: Why do you look for the living among the dead? My sister and I spent so much time talking about this, about the christian life and when to sit in the suffering and when to stop looking for the living among the dead. The thing about following Jesus is He doesn’t take us all in the same direction. What is faithful waiting and attending on your part is me looking for the living among the dead. It’s messy. And you don’t get to follow a blue print.
This easter I am trying hard to dream again. I am looking for the living in the land of the living, in the ideas that make me giggle and the ways I want to write a love letter to my favorite place. The ways I am finding new joy in old practices and new interest in new practices. 10 minutes for fun and creativity. That is what I want. That is how I look for the living in the land of the living. Dreaming, scheming, laughing. For me, those are the practices of Easter.
As I transition out of ministry in the traditional sense, this will become the base of my ministry. I don’t love Jesus stuff behind pay walls, but if you would like to support me for five dollars a month, I would be so honored.