Month: March 2013

The Threat of New Creation – Resurrection

They Have Threatened Us With Resurrection (1980)

by Julia Esquivel; translated by Ann Woehrle

 

It isn't the noise in the streets

that keeps us from resting, my friend,

nor is it the shouts of the young people

coming out drunk from the “St. Pauli,”

nor is it the tumult of those who pass by excitedly

on their way to the mountains.

 

It is something within us that doesn't let us sleep,

that doesn't let us rest,

that won't stop pounding

deep inside,

it is the silent, warm weeping

of Indian women without their husbands,

it is the sad gaze of the children

fixed somewhere beyond memory,

precious in our eyes

which during sleep,

though closed, keep watch,

systole,

diastole,

awake.

 

Now six have left us,

and nine in Rabinal,* and two, plus two, plus two,

and ten, a hundred, a thousand,

a whole army

witness to our pain,

our fear,

our courage,

our hope!

 

What keeps us from sleeping

is that they have threatened us with Resurrection!

Because every evening

though weary of killings,

an endless inventory since 1954,**

yet we go on loving life

and do not accept their death!

 

They have threatened us with Resurrection

Because we have felt their inert bodies,

and their souls penetrated ours

doubly fortified,

because in this marathon of Hope,

there are always others to relieve us

who carry the strength

to reach the finish line

which lies beyond death.

 

They have threatened us with Resurrection

because they will not be able to take away from us

their bodies,

their souls,

their strength,

their spirit,

nor even their death

and least of all their life.

Because they live

today, tomorrow, and always

in the streets baptized with their blood,

in the air that absorbed their cry,

in the jungle that hid their shadows,

in the river that gathered up their laughter,

in the ocean that holds their secrets,

in the craters of the volcanoes,

Pyramids of the New Day,

which swallowed up their ashes.

 

They have threatened us with Resurrection

because they are more alive than ever before,

because they transform our agonies

and fertilize our struggle,

because they pick us up when we fall,

because they loom like giants

before the crazed gorillas' fear.

 

They have threatened us with Resurrection,

because they do not know life (poor things!).

 

That is the whirlwind

which does not let us sleep,

the reason why sleeping, we keep watch,

and awake, we dream.

 

No, its not the street noises,

nor the shouts from the drunks in the “St. Pauli,”

nor the noise from the fans at the ball park.

 

It is the internal cyclone of kaleidoscopic struggle

which will heal that wound of the quetzal***

fallen in Ixcan,

it is the earthquake soon to come

that will shake the world

and put everything in its place.

 

No, brother,

it is not the noise in the streets

which does not let us sleep.

 

Join us in this vigil

and you will know what it is to dream!

Then you will know how marvelous it is

to live threatened with Resurrection!

 

To dream awake,

to keep watch asleep,

to live while dying,

and to know ourselves already

resurrected!

 

* Rabinal is a town in the province of Baja Varahaz where a massacre against indigenous people took place, perpetrated by the military dictatorship.

 

** The phrase “inventory since 1954” refers to the year in which the government of President Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown by a CIA-backed mercenary army coup, which initiated the unrelenting and ever-mounting repression by the military regimes who took over power.

 

*** The quetzal is an embarrassingly beautiful bird found in the forests and woodlands of Central America. The name is from Nahuatl quetzalli, which means “large brilliant tail feather.” The quetzal is the national bird of Guatemala and figures in the oral traditions of the indigenous people of that area.

Black Saturday

Many Christians, myself included, did not grow up with the tradition that referred to the Saturday before Easter as Black Saturday. Today I am appreciative of that Tradition. Avoiding the implications of that day leave us to think more of Easter as a holiday rather than a Holy Day.

I fear that many today think of Black Saturday through the lens of Easter and miss that there are many who believe there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Those whose lives have come under the weight of decisions, theirs and others. Decisions that have led to a sense the suffering experienced never ends.

We Christians tend to think of our dark nights not so dark because there is a night light. Maybe today we would meditate on our need to be more empathic. Maybe we should think of the words of Jesus, “you are the light of the world.” If some ever see the light of life, it may only come when we invest in their darkness the way Jesus did ours.

"Black Saturday?" - Copyright 2013 Todd Littleton

“Black Saturday?” – Copyright 2013 Todd Littleton

 

Good Friday – Shouldering the Cross

Last year I was in Guatemala the weekend before Palm Sunday. The annual parade includes life size figures telling the story of Jesus. Look close and you will see an interesting image. A person shouldering the cross of Jesus. Quite the image.

"Shouldering the Cross" - Copyright 2013 Todd Littleton

“Shouldering the Cross” – Copyright 2013 Todd Littleton

 

Good Friday – Holy Moly

If you have young children or grandchildren, like me, you may find the Holy Moly videos from Sparkhous worth checking out.

Gearing Up for Easter – Not What You Think

Lifeway Research released the results of a recent survey – Do you plan to attend a worship service on Easter?” In the course of describing the survey results, Russ Rankin offers a couple of takeaways given by Scott McConnell. First, Christians should not take for granted that their nominally interested friends will be attending worship on Easter. Second, Christians may want to take the occasion to invite their friends who are yet undecided to share worship on Easter.

Tuesday I sent in my weekly article for our local newspaper. My contribution to the Tuttle Times, titled Easter Is a Big Deal Every Week Day, turned on the energy and money spent for an annual event with daily implications. When I received the Lifeway release I began thinking about the intersection between the two articles.

Let me note up front, inviting people to Christian worship with you is not a bad idea. Ed Stetzer provides more statistical motivation for offering an invitation to share worship, in particular he writes about Easter Sunday. When Christians believe human beings discover the dream of God for them in Jesus, then we would be hard pressed not to offer an invitation to live in the dream of God.

Hopefully you caught the difference. One is an invitation to an event. The other is an invitation to a way of living.

And, here is where I begin thinking about the way we gear up for Easter and what suspicions may be created when we do. Since The Purpose-Driven Church and the marketing of Outreach Magazine, the money spent to gain high attendance on Easter Sunday, or Easter Weekend, shows up in slick postcards announcing service times and themes. Someone should research the amount of money spent on these and other means of advertisement. These fund the reference to the current religious climate as a buyer’s market. The best slick wins.

I remember the first time one of these showed up in my mailbox. Every other church had boring sermons, dour music, and awful childcare. Not that the creators of those postcards had actually verified the claims, a fact that did not matter. It does not matter that there could be places where the emotional ebb rarely flows in any direction. The claims were universal, ubiquitous causes for a lack of attendance.

We do not receive these invitations in anticipation of Low Sunday. That there is, and has been historically, a Low Sunday should have been a warning signal, like the Siren’s Call, to participation in High Sunday. Has anyone ever stopped to consider what happens to those exciting worship services, relevant preaching, and stellar childcare the Sunday just after Easter?

The early church fought over the day and date for Easter. It reads like a battle between Fundamentalist Baptists.

What troubles is that following the rising tides of holiday Easter seems to cast suspicions on our regular claims that we celebrate Easter every week, that is we celebrate the Resurrection, in our Christian worship services. The situation is further scandalized when in fact we do celebrate the Resurrection in our worship services and feel contented only then to survey the impact of 2 billion Christians in the world and find the Resurrection may not be celebrated everyday in the lives of those who profess just such an object/subject of their faith.

Differing theological systems work out an answer to this dilemma from the possibility of apostasy to the suggestion of insincere confessions. Each of these answers shifts the subject to the person often leaving us to feel smug about our theologies. We are content so long as our truth claims have not been assaulted even if they are regularly undermined by the lack of lived lives. When will we reconsider our theologies, or at least our systems?

Paul Burleson beat me to the punch in one nuance of my musings. I do agree that for the Christian who participates in a gathered church, Every Sunday is Easter. And, while his conclusion is not what struck me most, my friend The Ex-Reverend also wonders when we Christians will call into question our systems that leave many of us, and the world in which at least one-third of the population is Christian, little changed. One would expect Christians might have a different impact on the world’s greatest needs – human suffering – with such a group Christian soldiers. And please, do not comment about his use of a four-letter word. If you stopped reading there, that would just further signal our malaise.

footwashingMy friend Marty suspects that amidst the frivolity that surrounds holiday Easter, we might consider a more reflective posture during this Holy Week. Beginning today those of us who claim to be Christian might meditate on the implications of the Last Supper. And while Marty rightly points to the new command given Jesus in John 13, maybe we should also consider the way this is materialized by Jesus himself in that same chapter. One would give us the substance of our reflections – love one another – and the other would give us the material expression – washing others’ feet.

Were we to venture life lived with that combination, we may well be prepared to gear up for Easter, every day.