Easter 2, Reconciliation and Resurrection
Throughout Lent, the word “journey” came up frequently. Taking the metaphor of the desert wilderness...we discussed the reality that in the midst of our suffering and as broken people in a broken world we may at times (or even frequently) find ourselves struggling through a metaphorical desert landscape. As we heard the scriptures throughout Lent we saw in them a reflection of our own journeys and we were invited to see that we are not alone in our journey--that the company of the saints, and of each other, brings into our presence the companionship and grace of God.
The message that we are not alone in our struggles rang out again and again.
When I was going through my first BIG heart break in college I remember listening to music that really spoke to the brokenness and despair I was feeling. Singing along at the top of my lungs, I felt as if I was alone in the world and in my despair. That’s when I realized...I was singing along. That the music that I felt spoke to my heartache alone was sung by SOMEONE else! In that moment, I rejoiced--someone understands me!!! Then, I went further and realized that surely, for this music to be commercially viable, scores of people must find it relevant.
I felt a bit silly, but also relieved...
Relieved to realize that I was not alone, and in fact, many other people had been in that place and had gone through to the other side.
So, to continue with this metaphor, what would it be like to recognize that much of scripture holds an invitation to sing along as it were to the bad break up songs of a people, of our people. To cry out along with Christ, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!”
Lent and Holy Week are a time in which we are invited to truly feel that brokenness, to proclaim it as it were...to name it and see it and touch it. To sing along with the pain of our communities and recognize that none of us are whole.
Broken people, in broken communities in a broken world. We are not unique...every community is broken...everyone is broken...the world indeed is broken. When we watch Christ die on the cross we see what comes of our brokenness, the destruction of all that is good and is holy and is love. And, we may find ourselves fleeing from that brokenness, trying to hide from it. The pain may seem too great, the cost to self too high. I imagine that running from the pain is some of what the disciples did after that moment on the cross. They hid, uncertain about their future and what the world would come to, the world that had seemingly destroyed everything that they hoped to bring into fruition.
But, the journey does not end in the desert. The disciple’s story does not conclude in that upper room or at the cross. In stepping into the empty tomb, they step through the empty tomb and into a new light. An Easter light and they look around in wonderment...from fear and anger to peace, from accusation and isolation to forgiveness and gathering.
In the Easter light they are reconciled...Peter’s betrayal, the disciple’s doubt, their inability to stay awake to watch with Christ, and Thomas’ absence in the moment when peace is declared. These all cease to matter, because as Jesus stands before them, something bigger than them, then their differences and pains is being offered.
As Jesus allows Thomas to touch his wounds we wonder at the boldness. But, in that moment of physical contact and wonderment I think the disciples began to realize that despite their brokenness, despite all that had happened, that perhaps even because of all that had happened, that the powerful work of Christ in the world would survive. That they, that all they held dear, that we and all that is precious to us, can continue. When we touch the broken God, we become whole.
Reconciliation happened in that upper room. They came together, they shared their stories...and when the story became too hard to believe, they witnessed a greater love together.
But, reconciliation did not end there. Just as the story does not end on the cross, or even in the tomb. Reconciliation does not end with the proclamation of peace. Reconciliation is a continuous journey...we break and are healed, break and are healed, break and are healed. Again and again.
And, the healing happens in time, and with work...which is why I think so many of us gather each week in this place, in these places, in our faith communities. Because, each week the invitation to healing is issued again and again. Peace, peace I bring to you. Confess your sins, forgive each other. Reconciliation is not a done and gone process...it IS a process.
The invitation to the disciples in that upper room and beyond is one of sticking around through the brokenness. And, the only solution to brokenness in the light of the resurrection is healing and when they stay together they find healing together. To return to our break up song metaphor...they are making a mix tape for their new love, each contributing a different song, all of it proclaiming, “this is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it”. From one broken song to new songs, sung with the realization that we continue to live in hope, and love and in the midst of the powerful testimony of a new creation.
So where does this new creation happen? In the upper room it happens in community. They witness together, they break bread together, they live in brokenness together and they are healed together. And, for us we find ourselves in our own upper room, as each Sunday’s liturgy gives us the opportunity to break bread together, to live in brokenness together and be healed, together. What happens in the upper room is happening RIGHT NOW.
We are a broken people in a broken community.
Just as the disciples wrestled with the places where it seemed they had failed:
When they fell asleep,
When they denied Christ
When they lost one of their member in an act of betrayal
When one of their members dared to question the truth he saw before them
So too, do we wrestle.
We are them, and they are we.
But, in our gathering we become a new community, a community once broken made whole. We are made whole by something that surpasses any of them and all of us
We are made whole by the witness we bare to the new creation in Christ
We are made whole because we are called to see beyond ourselves and into something greater
We are made whole when we see that the resurrection carries with it consequences for our daily living.
The resurrection demands a new way of seeing, a new way of being, a new creation. When we are made new, we are called to make the whole world new. When we see Christ, we are called to see Christ in all human beings. When we hear Christ’s gift of peace, we are called to carry that gift into the world. When we are forgiven by God we are called to forgive others.
When we are given the power to forgive it is because the message of reconciliation has been entrusted to us--and resurrection is reconciliation and reconciliation brings new life and wholeness to a broken and shattered body. So, if we are to be a resurrected people, so too must we be a reconciled people.
This does not mean that we must ignore that which causes us hurt, nor is it that we are to turn a blind eye...it is that we are to keep working towards the truth of what we have witnessed. We are asked to stay in relationship and enter into the journey of brokenness made whole. As Paul so often attests in his letters, it is not that the early Christian’s differences, or conflicts, or debates are gone--but, it is that they all can see that beyond the interests of their community to a greater interest that draws them together.
Part of what lies ahead for Gethsemane is your community’s discernment of what that greater interest is for all of you--what will draw you beyond yourselves and closer to the truth of God’s love in the world. What will the resurrection look like as you all discern how and where God is calling you in mission? Will it be the feeding of the hungry? Will it be warmth for those who are cold? Will it be providing a place of safety and liberation for the marginalized of our communities? How will you be called to carry the message of reconciliation and of healing into the world? What song will we sing in this new love affair with the Christ who is risen?