This week we conclude our book and celebrate the seventh or final Sunday of Eastertide. Honestly, maintaining a feast mindset and searching for the liberating message of the resurrected Christ in scripture, in life, in community for 50 days can start to feel like hard work.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Often it is when we have time to rest, as we are invited to do during Easter, that the demons which we keep at bay by being busy make themselves known. So we can start to crave a distraction.
Also we live in a dominant culture with a weird relationship to food and feasting. As Sara so bluntly puts it “As a nation, we’re obsessed with food, afraid of it, and deeply out of touch with what it means to sit down and eat real food with other people. We’re surrounded by abundance, we’re fat, and we’re starving (288).” It is hard to develop a healthy relationship to feasting when we are bombarded by aggressive advertisements for cheap calories and surrounded by a national discourse that values cheap, quick words over deep engagement with complex issues.
In the face of this Easter-fatigue, I like the words for the journey with which we closed our worship on Sunday:
‘Go into this world accompanied by the Spirit of God who both unsettles and inspires us. Go with the kiss of peace on your lips and venerate the Holy Spirit made manifest in the people and the new life unfolding around you.’
In Eastertide we tend to talk about these big themes of LOVE, and PEACE, and UNITY and it can feel sort of kumbaya if we aren’t careful. But God as both inspiring and unsettling, that resonates.
In the closing chapters of Take this Bread, Sara struggles to tie it all together. And in the end, she kind of just admits that she can’t do it. Instead, the reader is left with a sense of the push-pull that has become Sara’s life as a practicing Christian. Her baptism she says, has done the total opposite of making her safe. Far from merely inducting her into a ‘like-minded club of believers,’ her baptism and her ongoing work to feed more and varied folk continue to feel dangerous. Her life as a Jesus follower is fraught with tension and complexities that remain unresolved– even in her own spirit.
Like when she tries to start a second food pantry in the congregation on Sunday and the original worshiping community at St. Gregory’s balks — not wanting to give up their sense of Sabbath spaciousness, time for art, music, and silence. She is devastated, but still called to be a part of and fed by her participation in St. Gregory’s. She comes to see the perspective of other community members, even as she feels so convicted that they should open themselves up to deeper encounters with people who are different than them. She is continually reminded, and so reminds her reader, that one doesn’t get to be a special believer by oneself, and that there are not hard and fast rules about how exactly to move forward and embody the Christ-mystery in the world.
Yet Sara does leave us with a specific invitation: to start small, to engage, to do something rather than arguing over ideology or methodology. This small something can be volunteering at a pre-GED school, or going on a trip to New Orleans to make some music with poor kids, or just opening ourselves another level to the grace and complexity of life lived in community.
Because ultimately the Easter message is not kumbaya. Resurrection is not sentimental or simplistic. Instead it is a deep message of liberation from death, from fear, from being imprisoned in our own heads our own hurts. It is a message that all of us are hungry to receive, every day of our life. And it is a mystery that we never fully live into.
Tonight join us for tamales, home-made slaw, and ten bean soup. We are meeting at 6:30pm at Southwood UMC (3601 South Ravinia Drive Dallas, TX 75233-3238). Join us for this opportunity to check out their community kitchen and garden and to discern next steps regarding a potential collaboration/space sharing arrangement. Also on Pentecost, May 23rd, the Citc Board is organizing an all church meeting and potluck at Southwood after worship so that’s another opportunity to check it out. Call 214. 233. 4605 with any questions.
All Good Things,