April 4, 2010
St. Paul's - Richmond United Church
Season of Easter
Click here: George Hermanson's sermon, for an easy to print or email Adobe PDF version of this post.
The Rev. Dr. George Hermanson
One of the warnings we get is be careful with your personal information because there are people out to steal our identity. Identity theft is with us and it has always been with us. Those who experience it speak of losing their sense of self. They have become a nobody - a sense they no longer exist. They say their sense of self - their soul has been stolen. They no longer exist, cannot be seen. In the past, though, it was much more violent. The Romans used the Cross to achieve this - the one crucified becomes a nobody. Their identity stolen. Their reality is destroyed - it is as if they never existed. Crucifixion destroyed identity.
Yet here we are with Mary. The one she loved was crucified. The Romans tried to wipe away any sense of Jesus - to make him a nobody, to wipe away all memory of him. But for Mary it was not an end. She is still searching. She is looking for meaning. We, too, gather this Easter morning to celebrate the memory of a crucified one - Jesus.
A word is spoken to Mary. Why do you look for the living among the dead? Rise up - rise up. The irony. The clarity. The paradox. Turning from the tomb to search in the rising - in life, Mary is transformed, transported.
She remembers her time with Jesus. Remembers how she saw the world as an ongoing expression of God. With Jesus she experienced reality as gracious and loving, and ultimately revealed the glory of God.
The word Mary hears at the tomb is, come on up for the rising. Easter and spring get confused. Of course spring does bring a spring to our steps. Rising though, is more than the end of winter and new buds coming. It is true that sorrow can give way when we are greeted by sweet, earthly scent. Rising is much more transformative, for it is a way of life, a way of seeing the light that lights the dark caverns of our soul. Rising is a perspective that helps us to see the dynamic love of God hidden in the suffering and injustices of the world. Rising raises us to live a vision of creativity, life and hope. Rising is lived daily - being those who teach others about the life of rising. This is: to create hearts of light, power and beauty that make us sing songs of praise and gratitude, a canticle that joins all voices of creatures and the cosmos itself together in shouting rise up, rise up.
Mary, and we, are called - in this rising of a nobody who becomes a somebody - to trust the rising sun in this garden of darkness - to look for the dancing sun. To do that, though, she had to make her way through the darkness, throw off the layers of protection that we wrap ourselves in.
Trusting the divine is a struggle, for trust calls us to throw off the layers of protection we cloth ourselves in - anxiety, pain from past wounds, addictions, and complexes. This rising, this vision of the world immersed in a divine and gracious Presence is not easy to trust. Like those early witnesses we do not quickly embrace the rising. We find it difficult to open our hearts to spiritual healing, to greet the light and warmth of grace with the freedom of open hearts and allow ourselves to be embraced by it.
This Sunday we are invited to experience of the rising so we can uncover God's light and warmth in our world of chaos and darkness. We do that by following Mary's searching in the garden.
in the darkness
Silence, waiting to be broken.
Yearning, reaching out, touching
and the vast heavenly hosts stood still
as the rising comes
not yet spoken
breaking, calling, luring
a sense of wonder rising
Rising out of the earth
In the garden of the rising sky
Can you see, coming through the fission of the earth, along the water ways,
the movement of rising, The sky of peace
The sky of mercy
The sky of love
The sky of memory and sharing
The sky of blessed life
Sky full of light
God's dreaming, calling
over the chaos, the beginnings of life rising
Listen to the intensity
Listen to the harmony
The cry of love
From the inner imagination
From the edge of experience
Love comes tumbling down
Like a watcher at the moment of dawn,
love comes to us,
uninvited, without our calling, overtaking us
This grand creation
This global circling transformation
This heart-stopping beauty
Bringing together all that is and will be
We are there, in that moment, standing at the tomb, on tip toes, looking
through the veil, to the rising
Feeling the touch of love,
Feel the love in our souls,
No longer distracted
our pores are open
Our heart is open
Filled with the rising of Jesus we now see the world with new eyes, new understanding. Now our hearts follow the path of radical trust that illuminates both personal and cultural darkness. By seeking the rising in life we can rely on our deepest faith in times of crisis and pray for strength to live lives of rising, being those who announce hope. We trust the wonder of this world for have found in this rising the capacity to "seize God in all things." Such openhearted seeing is an ongoing prayer. No words are necessary, only attentiveness to the rising of God already present in our world. With Easter eyes we can see and feel this reality - this rising of the kingdom of God in the events of our world. We can say Amen, Amen, Amen.