“Jesus moves among men and women–even if it means passing through doors locked from within” Fr. William M. Joensen
Many of us frequently–or continually–bolt the doors of our hearts from within, yet we long for Christ to come to us. We can have great hope . . . for He is the One who can enter “through doors locked from within.” ~Sr. Dorcee Clarey “Witnesses to Hope”
19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. John 20: 19-20
We’re bolted in alright, to ensure we’re safe from confronting our greatest fears and our most fervent longing.
But there is no lock or latch or deadbolt that can keep Him out. He knocks, waiting for us to answer and let Him in, but if we don’t answer, He’s ready to move right through those barriers we carefully construct.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. John 21:12
It’s so easy to look and see what we pass through in this world, but we don’t. If you’re like me, you see so little. You see what you expect to see rather than what’s there. ~Frederick Buechner from The Remarkable Ordinary
It is too easy by the next day to let go of Easter — to slide back into the Monday routine, managing our best to survive each day, teeth gritted, as we have before.
We were blind, thinking Him the Gardener as He passed by; we just don’t pay attention to Who is right before us, tending us.
God knows this about us. So He meets us for breakfast on Monday and every day thereafter and feeds us, a tangible and meaningful act of nourishing us in our most basic human needs though we’ve done nothing to deserve the gift. He cooks up fish on a beach at dawn and invites us to join Him though we have done nothing to deserve it.
The night before he shared a meal and broke bread in Emmaus to open the eyes and hearts of the blinded.
It is time to open our eyes, our minds, our hearts to Who this really is. This is no mere Gardener.
When He offers me a meal of His Word, I will accept it with open eyes of gratitude, knowing the gift He hands me is nothing less than Himself.
So what do I believe actually happened that morning on the third day after he died? …I speak very plainly here…
He got up. He said, “Don’t be afraid.”
Love is the victor. Death is not the end. The end is life. His life and our lives through him, in him. Existence has greater depths of beauty, mystery, and benediction than the wildest visionary has ever dared to dream. Christ our Lord has risen. ~Frederick Buechner
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6: 8-10
Since this moment (the resurrection), the universe is no longer what it was; nature has received another meaning; history is transformed and you and I are no more, and should not be anymore, what we were before. ~Paul Tillich
Make no mistake: if He rose at all it was as His body; if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle, the Church will fall…
It was not as the flowers, each soft Spring recurrent; it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the eleven apostles; it was as His Flesh: ours. ~John Updike from “Seven Stanzas at Easter”
Our flesh is so weak, so temporary, as ephemeral as a dew drop on a petal yet with our earthly vision it is all we know of ourselves and it is what we trust knowing of Him.
He was born as our flesh, from our flesh. He walked and hungered and thirsted and slept as our flesh. He died, His flesh hanging in tatters, blood spilling freely breath fading to nought speaking Words our ears can never forget.
And He got up, to walk and hunger and thirst alongside us and here on this hill we meet together, –flesh of His flesh– here among us He is risen –flesh of our flesh– married forever as the Church: a fragile, flawed and everlasting body.
I Here something stubborn comes, Dislodging the earth crumbs And making crusty rubble. It comes up bending double And looks like a green staple. It could be seedling maple, Or artichoke, or bean; That remains to be seen.
II Forced to make choice of ends, The stalk in time unbends, Shakes off the seedcase, heaves Aloft, and spreads two leaves Which still display no sure And special signature. Toothless and fat, they keep The oval form of sleep.
III This plant would like to grow And yet be embryo; Increase, and yet escape The doom of taking shape; Be vaguely vast, and climb To the tip end of time With all of space to fill, Like boundless Yggdrasill That has the stars for fruit. But something at the root More urgent than that urge Bids two true leaves emerge, And now the plant, resigned To being self-defined Before it can commerce With the great universe, Takes aim at all the sky And starts to ramify. ~Richard Wilbur “Seed Leaves”
Now the green blade rises from the buried grain, Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain; Love lives again, that with the dead has been: Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green.
When our hearts are saddened, grieving or in pain, By Your touch You call us back to life again; Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been: Love is come again, like wheat that springs up green. ~John Crum from The Oxford Book of Carols
Over the last several weeks, roots have become shoots and their green blades have risen chaotically, uneven and awkward like a bad haircut. And like a bad haircut, a few days of further growth will make all the difference — renewal will cover all the bare earth, breaking through crusty rubble to reach up, heaving and healing, aiming for the sky.
There is nothing more hopeful than the barren made fruitful, the ugly made beautiful, the devastated restored, the dead made alive.
The fields of our broken hearts recover; love is come again.
Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God: But only he who sees takes off his shoes. ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Over the next eight days, the body of Christian believers will be traversing once again the holy ground of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.
Indeed, our children, happy to be barefoot most of the time, are more apt than the grown ups to follow the instruction of the Lord when He told Moses:
“Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
There have long been cultures where shoes are to be removed before touching the surface of the floor inside a residence or temple in an intentional act of leaving the dirt of the world at the door to preserve the sanctity and cleanliness of the inner life.
Yet we as Christians wear shoes into church every Sunday, having walked in muck and mire of one sort or another all week. We try our best to clean up for Sunday, but we track in the detritus of our lives when we come to sit in the pews. Rather than leave it at the door, it comes right in with us, not exactly hidden and sometimes downright stinky. That is when we are in obvious need for a good washing, shoes, feet, soul and all, and that is exactly why we need to worship together as a church family in need of cleansing, whether indoors or outdoors.
Jesus Himself demonstrated our need for a wash-up on the last night of His life, soaking the dusty feet of His disciples.
And then there is what God said. He asked that holy ground be respected by the removal of our sandals. We must remove any barrier that prevents us from entering fully into His presence, whether it be our attitude, our stubbornness, our unbelief, or our constant centering on self rather than other.
No separation, even a thin layer of leather, is desirable when encountering God.
We trample roughshod over holy ground all the time, blind to where our feet land and the impact they leave behind. Perhaps by shedding the covering of our eyes, our minds, and our feet, we would see earth crammed with heaven and God on fire everywhere, in every common bush and in every common heart.
So we may see. So we may listen. So we may feast together. So we may weep at what we have done, yet stand forgiven. So we may celebrate as our Risen Lord startles us by calling our name. So we remove our sandals so our bare feet may touch His holy ground.
Lined with light the twigs are stubby arrows. A gilded trunk writhes Upward from the roots, from the pit of the black tentacles.
In the book of spring a bare-limbed torso is the first illustration.
Light teaches the tree to beget leaves, to embroider itself all over with green reality, until summer becomes its steady portrait and birds bring their lifetime to the boughs.
Then even the corpse light copies from below may shimmer, dreaming it feels the cheeks of blossom. ~May Swenson “April Light”
In April we wait for the corpse light~ a mysterious illumination which comes alive on a bright Sabbath Easter morning, taking bare stubs of people, hardly alive, begetting them green, bursting them into blossom, their cheeks pink with life, in promise of faithful fruitfulness.
“Let Him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east.” ~Gerard Manley Hopkins from “The Wreck of the Deutschland“
On this Sabbath, we anticipate the bright light of Easter morning in two weeks.
Each Sabbath, each Sunday celebration of Resurrection Day dims over time as I return to my daily routine on Monday. The humdrum replaces the extraordinary, tragedy overcomes festivity, darkness overwhelms dawn. The world encourages this, and I don’t muster enough resistance. I climb right back into the tomb of my sin, move the huge stone back in place, and remain there, waiting for rot to settle in.
I am not alone. I have plenty of company with me behind the stone. There is no excuse for us to still be there.
The stone was pushed aside, the burden shouldered, the debt completely paid.
How can we not allow His light to dayspring our dimness?
He is risen. We are eastered. No need to sink down in darkness. None.