By Rev. John Paddock
Third Sunday of Easter
April 22, 2007
Following are some vignettes . . . some reflections . . . some readings . . . not necessarily related, but then, perhaps related in some deep way recognized by intuition if not by logic. You know, it's awfully difficult to deal with the problem of evil, Earth Day, and a theology of creation stewardship in ten or fifteen minutes. I trust that you hear some things that will stir your own meditations.
While we live our bodies are moving particles of the earth, joined inextricably both to the soil and to the bodies of other living creatures. It is hardly surprising, then, that there should be some profound resemblances between our treatment of our bodies and our treatment of the earth.
On Tuesday evening, I wrote the following for the coming issue of our parish newsletter:
I know that it is Resurrection season, but I am thinking of the cross . . . and not the empty one of Easter or the flowered one we had at Church last Sunday. I'm thinking of the crucified Jesus cross . . . the Good Friday one.
This is the day after the shootings at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg. There has been almost continuous news coverage since about mid-day yesterday, as we've heard from just about everyone who would stand still for an interview. Real facts are slow in coming, so the media people are marking time with fillers as they await any new developments. But the nation's attention is momentarily riveted. I say "momentarily," because we all know that by the time you see this other things will have grabbed the spotlight; and we will have moved on.
Someone asked me today about how we should mark this moment on Sunday. And I said that we'll certainly remember the victims, their families, and the Va. Tech community in our prayers of the people. But I also shared another realization that struck me as I was listening to the breaking news yesterday. This is no different from what happens in other parts of the world on almost a daily basis. In Iraq the numbers killed in one or more incidents of terror often exceed the Blacksburg body count by a factor of two or three. The numbers are often less precise in Afghanistan, Palestine, Darfur, or Nigeria - - but just as tragic and just as devastating to families and communities. As another friend pointed out, the major difference between Blacksburg and the others is that Virginia is closer to home. Proximity counts in getting our attention.
But close to home or on the other side of the globe, violence and cruelty and abuse and injustice and crookedness are endemic. And that is why I'm thinking about the Good Friday cross with Jesus firmly nailed to it. God is there in the middle of it all. That's why we have to have the cross. Bunnies and Easter eggs and signs of spring don't address the human condition. Only from the cross does Jesus speak to the dead, the dying, their families, and their loved ones. He speaks: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" He speaks: "Father, forgive." He speaks to all the pain, grief, and tragedy from the place of pain, grief, and tragedy.
Easter is nice. Easter is great! But when college kids are shot in their dorm and classrooms, when people are blown apart by a suicide bomber, when women and kids are destroyed by "collateral damage," when cruel and inhumane people achieve power and work their woe upon humanity, then I suggest that the fully occupied cross of Good Friday is a more meaningful symbol than the empty/flowered one of Easter.
We Christians are an Easter people. But let us never forget that we can't get to Easter without a fully loaded Good Friday cross.
So I wrote on Tuesday.
What Easter adds to the suffering of Good Friday is not simply the empty cross, but a world filled with the presence of Christ.
Empty cross . . . full world.
The early Church's Easter experience was that the crucified one kept showing up . . . not as pure spirit . . . but as an embodied Jesus. He kept filling up their space.
We've got an empty cross but a world filled with Jesus sightings.
Regardless of what happens with bees or trees or mass murders or wars or global climate change - - in the midst of incredible unease - - what do we cling to, how do we find meaning, where do we discover hope?
Like the dis-spirited disciples we may find Christ in the most unlikely places:
But he's different now - - different from the way he used to be . . . because he has spent time on that cross . . . broken body . . . breaking bread . . . feeding sheep.
Copyright © 1999-2006, Jaluo dot com
All Rights Reserved