Anonymity should be banned, especially in church. I wonder sometimes if people address God anonymously in prayers. You know something like,
” Hello God, “Anonymous” here. I really think you are not listening to me. If you would just ask I could help you out. Amen.”
Before you wonder too far, an anonymous note found its way to me this morning. The note was written yesterday morning. It is troublesome. It really is not that some of the “suggested prayer needs” are not important, many are particularly to the life of our church. It was the last couple of items that really created no opportunity to get at the heart of the matter – no occasion for conversation. I confess to letting my mind wonder no less than a few times today. Don’t read into this post a sense the note was critical of me. It may have indirect implications but it did not appear sent with too much finger pointing.
I guess what I am wondering on the day after Easter, why the note yesterday? Certainly ink pens and paper avail themselves to any writer on any given Sunday. Why would someone feel compelled on “Resurrection Sunday?” It struck me this afternoon recalling a message I heard last night. Yes, we did not have evening services but a friend was preaching and I needed an occasion to worship from the others side of the “platform.” The text hosted in the evening was the text we read yesterday morning, Mark 16:1-8. Most scholars contend Mark end’s his telling of the Jesus story at verse 8. Some offer the later additions may have been authentic and may well have been added for the startling way the earliest manuscripts end.
It seems as Mark ends the story the women who visit the tomb fail to tell anyone because they are gripped with trembling and are astonished. Despite the charge from the angels to tell the disciples and Peter, Mark mentions they tell no one. Curtain drawn. Yet, verse 9 and following note the women do eventually tell the disciples as noted in the other gospels. What would compel Mark to end with the women saying nothing? Fear? Could be they just could not get their minds around what they experienced. After all you have doubtlessly made particular plans heading out to accomplish a task only to find something significant altered your course. What to make of it all? Can be overwhelming when you consider we are talking about “resurrection!”
Greg used a verse from a Nickel Creek song that has given me pause to think all day. The lyrics noted were,
Where can a dead man go
The question with an answer only dead men know
But I’m gonna bet they never really feel at home
If they spent a lifetime learning
How to live in Rome
If we spend our time trying to live the way our natural inclinations lead us, we may find ourselves not feeling very at home in the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. We can do better than anonymity and should. Nameless and faceless concerns take the observer out of the opportunity for solution. Instead, the anonymous set themselves up as “constant judge.” It seems to me in that position Jesus describes the logical conclusion of becoming the judge of others is an exclusionary practice that may well mark the judge outside the fold when he/she intended it the other way around. Jesus also seems to say in that same Sermon on the Mount such a practice smacks of the germination of anger which leads to contempt. Contempt dehumanizes others and makes them non-persons. Anonymous suggestions that relate to real people and what should or shouldn’t be done to them expressly dehumanizes the person under scrutiny. I cannot abide it. Seems like this is the way to live in Rome and not the way to live in the Kingdom of God.
So how to bring it together. Honesty at the end of the day must bring us face to face with the dawn of newness. What would it be like to live into the new creation work of the Spirit of God? What would it look like? Leading out of a deference for people rather than contempt. Risking honesty and openness over the dehumanizing effects of “judging.” In the end, this may have well been the Spirit’s shaping of Resurrection Day for me. After all it was the Apostle Paul who wrote, “we are a new creation in Christ Jesus, old things have passed away (could it be the way of Rome?) and new things of come (surely it is the way of life in the Kingdom of God!).
Father may you continue to make us new after the fashion of Jesus. May we live our lives learning how to live in the Kingdom rather than in Rome …