April 8, 2012

An Easter Story

It is Easter, but I have been thinking about Founders’ Day. We observe it every October in our church, in honor of those who founded the church, and is always a wonderful occasion. There is special music, usually a bagpiper, fancy sandwiches and the silver tea service for coffee hour, lots of old friends returning to share worship and fellowship.

This past Founders’ Day marked the 160th anniversary of the founding of our church. It was truly a memorable day, but not for the reason you might think – unless you were one of the 12 people in worship that day…. It was the day after the October snowstorm.

There were trees and limbs and power lines down everywhere. It was a mess. My little street was blocked for almost a week, and when the debris was removed, the whole landscape had changed. Even months after the storm, there are still dangling branches and open scars from broken limbs. It has been hard to see how the maple in my front yard could survive with so much damage.

But something curious has been happening in the past few weeks. Where it seemed there was only brokenness, new sprouts are emerging. The forests are red with new growth budding even on the broken branches. Where is seemed that the chance of survival was slim to none, there was life all along, gathering its strength, waiting.


On Good Friday, the landscape of faith was changed forever. We said no to God’s great gift of love. We broke faith with God. And for a while it seemed that death might have the last word. But our “no” cannot stand in the way of God’s eternal “yes.” Out of death and brokenness, God in Christ brings life. Easter is our great celebration of that. In a way, this is our true Founders’ Day! Here we are: special music, old and new friends sharing worship and fellowship, a feast prepared for us!

And at the Table, we are reminded of the source of life. It is not of our own doing. It is not from our own strength. In the midst of our worry and weakness and brokenness, it is God who is giving us new life.

And the gift comes to us from the risen Christ who says to us: This is my body broken for you – broken. Take and eat … and live. And out of brokenness, we are given hope and love and resurrection.

A favorite poem of mine (Manifest: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry) includes these instructions: "Expect the end of the world. Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful though you have considered all the facts." That is how we are to live, with laughter and joy.

Christ is alive, and so are we. Against all odds, in spite of the facts – we are alive! And the final line of the poem is like an invitation to us from the risen Christ. The poet says: "Practice resurrection."

And Christ says it, too, with his own life and the example set for us: Practice resurrection!

In the face of all that would say “no,” let God’s great “yes” be spoken. Consider the facts, as grim as they are sometimes – budgets, numbers, personal prognoses, broken hopes and dreams, fragile faith, loss and death and sickness.

Consider the facts and then …. rejoice. Because Christ is alive, and so are we. We are resurrection people. And may we continue live Christ-like lives, practicing resurrection.

Alleluia! Amen!

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