Curves in the Roadmap of Hope
4-1-18 Easter Message and Meditation
Scripture: John 20:1-18
Theme: There are many twists and turns in the journey towards God. Christ demonstrated this, from his unlikely beginnings to his impossible ending. And yet, today, we proclaim that Christ is risen from the dead, the biggest twist of all. Fiction? Myth? Fantasy? Or evidence of what we know about God – who often uses the unlikely and implausible to give us a truth and a love greater than we can know any other way.
Just the other day, I was perusing the library at Amazon.com for some thought-provoking, life changing reading material. I am happy to say, I made several excellent discoveries. I’d like to share them with you – consider this a “must-read” list of books you simply must add to your library.
Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World
El Nino: The Weather Phenomenon That Changed the World
Model T Ford: The Car That Changed the World
The Pill: A Biography of the Drug That Changed the World
The Twist: The Story of the Song and Dance That Changed the World
Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color That Changed the World
Gunpowder: The History of the Explosive That Changed the World
Now, I’m not sure you will find these books at our local library. But yes, these books really do exist. I recently came across an article in The Christian Science Monitor that said there are thousands of books in print whose titles includes the phrase “That Changed the World.” I also discovered over 30,000,000 (30 million) “hits” on the internet regarding things that changed the world; these include:
* The 10 dogs that changed the world;
* The seven games that changed the world;
* The twenty websites that changed the world;
* Meteors that changed the world;
* Aircraft that changed the world;
* Houses that changed the world;
* Trees that changed the world; and some of my personal favorites:
* The pants that changed the world (Levi’s)
* The 17 molecules that changed the world (include penicillin, sodium chloride, and silicon);
* The equation that changed the world (E=mc squared); and
* The six drinks that changed the world (beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and coca-cola!)
* And last, but not least, the five motorcycles that changed the world (they are the Honda C-100 Supercub, the Honda CB750 Four, the Vincent Black Shadow, the Ducati 750 SS, and the 1915 Harley Davidson V-Twin).
Such a preponderance of items makes me ask the question – WHAT HASN’T CHANGED THE WORLD? There are many influences upon existence, many things that shape us and form us into society, into communities, into beings of self-identity and value.
But all of these things that change the world do so from without. These are influences around us, items of this world that have impacted our external lives. Of course, they impact our thinking and feeling, our inner selves, but they do not start there; they start as items bearing upon our physical being, and leave the inner consequences to the individual.
Today, we can also think of Easter as the moment in time that changed the world, for indeed it was, and is, and continues to be the case, that Easter, for the Christian, changes everything. BUT IT DOES SO BY ITS CONNECTION TO EACH AND EVERY INDIVIDUAL, SPIRITUALLY BEFORE PHYSICALLY, INTERNALLY BEFORE EXTERNALLY. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are given a physical reality that occurs for spiritual benefit – the benefit of release from the bondage of the past, the benefit of immediate connection with God now, and the benefit of everlasting hope in the future. THESE ARE THINGS THE TEMPORAL REALM OF WORLD-CHANGING THINGS CANNOT EVEN APPROACH, let alone satisfy. In the resurrection of Jesus, we are told things that reason cannot express, we are shown things that material cannot divulge, we are given things that flesh cannot provide.
William Sloane Coffin said these words about this day: “This is the meaning of Easter – that God broke the rules so idolized by humanity. They were His rules to break; that is the point. God, to be God, would have not only that right and that ability, but that initiative, to change reality at His will. The amazing thing is that he does so for our sakes; he repeatedly brings truth out of falsehood, light out of darkness, life out of death. These are things impossibly out of reach but for this revelation; it could only be an act of God, beyond the confines of human understanding or explanation, that could bring the truth we need to life.”
Easter is the time we celebrate this glorious impossibility. Jesus Christ, God’s Son, was dead, and came back to life. He told us of God’s reasoning – that all might know the power of God, and the favor God shows to all of us. That all might know of this thing call eternity. That all might know of just how precious we are in God’s sight. That the world may truly be changed from the inside out, by receiving what God has given in Christ, and sharing that light with the world. It may be that many things have changed the world, but only one event holds the potential and promise to change each and every life for the better. And it is this change from the inside out which bears the greatest hope for the future of our world.
I came across a very timely piece of writing recently, which seems as if it was written in the thought of what is going on in our world and especially our nation today; in fact, this was written in 1985 by author, pastor, and theologian Frederick Buechner in his book The Magnificent Defeat. Here’s what he says about our present reality: “Anxiety and fear are what we know best in this fantastic century of ours. Wars and rumors of wars. From civilization itself to what seemed the most unalterable values of the past, everything is threatened or already in ruins. We have heard so much tragic news that when the news is good we cannot hear it.
“But the proclamation of Easter Day is that all is well. And as a Christian, I say this not with the easy optimism of one who has never known a time when all was not well but as one who has faced the cross in all its obscenity as well as in all its glory, who has known one way or another what it is like to live separated from God. In the end, his will, not ours, is done. Love is the victor. Death is not the end. The end is life.”
This is the Easter message. Amen.
A Franciscan Blessing
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may wish for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. May God bless you with a sense of the impossible made possible in Christ. Amen.
Meditation Beyond the Tomb (anonymous)
In the shadows of recent days the disciples stood as ghosts without substance.
Their master failed them; they failed themselves.
All hope lost, but for the vague remembrance of crazy talk, impossible talk
Of life beyond the grave.
A tomb lay empty; what can this be?
A trick? A mistake? Something making the bad worse…..
Or possibly better?
What was it that is said of God, that where we stop in the face of the impossible, God starts to work
In ways that refuse to be understood, given instead to be received
By those who choose heart over mind, soul over body, truth over fact.
It is when we are at the greatest loss that our need for God becomes known;
And it is precisely there that God provides.