From Death into Life

This is the season when we sit with death and find the way to new life.  Doug Pagitt says that every preacher has four sermons that get preached over and over and over.  I guess this is one of my four.  I’ll take it.

Last night was our Maundy Thursday service.  It was a very Church in the Cliff night.  It was small and intimate.  We ate and drank.  We laughed a lot.  We might have cried a little.  Maundy Thursday is a celebration turned farewell.  It is the Passover meal celebrating the ancient Hebrews’ liberation from Egypt, but it is Jesus’ last Passover meal with his friends.  There is a sweetness in a farewell that we should savor when we are lucky enough to have one.  He knew that he was leaving, going where they could not go, and he asked them to do one thing in his absence: love one another.

Tonight is DART Stations of the Cross.  It commemorates the Passion in words and pictures while riding a train.  I know it sounds odd, but it is oddly affecting.  This is Good Friday.  The name of this day has always bothered me because it glosses over the real pain and loss of the Passion.  It points us forward.  It signals that this is the day that Jesus’ work is done, forgetting that his work is done while sweating blood.  Jesus ached so much for the state of the world that his anguish was literally seeping out of him.  Those who loved him, those who had the courage, saw every step that he took on his way to Calvary.  In the Stations of the Cross, we have the opportunity to do the same.  We do this not for guilt, but for compassion, to feel with Christ and to thereby feel with all those who suffer.  In the Stations of the Cross, we ache for the world; we bleed for it.  Imagine if our concern for the world seeped out of us, unable to be contained.

Then there is the quiet of the tomb.  We must not forget that Jesus was dead.  For some of us, that remembrance might be a day of silence, of prayer, of meditation.  I will be doing some of that.  I’m also going to see Southern Baptist Sissies, the story of four gay men growing up in a Southern Baptist church.  It looks funny and, in some ways, incongruous with the day.  However, in remembering Jesus death and time in the tomb, we must also remember the people that we as Christians have forced into silence and solitude for so many years.  The closet is a tomb.  Fortunately for many, the stone has been rolled away.

What we learn from our queer kindred is what we learn from our own experiences: there is always the promise of new life.  The loss of loved ones, of jobs, moving to a new place, relationships severed, a plan failed, a hope dashed, or just dying to the person others expected you to be – there is always the promise of new life.  The mistake is in thinking that those losses don’t continue to have some claim on us, that they cease to be a part of who we are.  New life is only possible when we contend with death, when we live through it and give it its proper due.

Easter is not exactly Christmas; it is not birth, but resurrection.  It is all the more joyful for knowing the alternative.  The bloom of the wildflowers, the greening of the world, puppies playing in the park, and picnics and potlucks, and the Beloved One of God lives again – life is so beautiful.  So let’s celebrate.

Please join us for the remainder of our Holy Week activities.  We will be handing out prayer cards for DART Stations of the Cross from 5-7pm at Mockingbird Station this Good Friday evening.  Tomorrow, for Holy Saturday, we don’t have any official plans, but I encourage you to go see Southern Baptist Sissies at 2:30pm at the Texas Theater.  Then please join us for our Easter celebration, 11am Sunday at Kidd Springs Rec Center.  Following the service there will be a picnic potluck in the park, weather permitting.  The Kittos have graciously volunteered their house, 310 S. Montclair, if there is rain.

Grace & Peace,

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