and the power and the glory
It was supposed to be forever.
What went wrong?
From the cross it looks like theirs
(whoever can manhandle or finesse the most power)
is the kingdom and the power and the gory results thereof;
for as far as the eye can see and the ear can hear.
From the cross it looks like we’re still caught in this shell of a story, unhatched, like chicks beating our wings against a brittle wall
that will not give way to human wishes or dreams.
The history of sin seems to be the human story and we can’t break out.
Eve and Adam didn’t want to look stupid, They heard, “your eyes shall be opened and you shall know as God knows” so they ate the fruit.
Their first born son, Cain, kills his only brother, Abel, in an impulsively jealous rage.
Jesus’ friend, Judas, turns him in after losing his will to hope for what he cannot see. Better to settle for the reality you know than the dream that will break your heart.
Sin and death are our shell. We are well trained to stay within its limits.
And so it goes, except.
Except for this one strange character. Jesus;
Jesus, who resists all indoctrination to the shell game;
Jesus, who won’t even follow the rules of self-defense,
if it means accepting the limits of human power defined by sin and death.
Jesus, in whose life it becomes impossibly clear,
That God cannot be contained with in this shell we have created
since day one.
That where we choose to be defined by sin and death,
God chooses to be defined by grace and life.
In our time we human beings are reasonably comfortable_
dealing in probabilities.
In God’s time we encounter possibilities so apparently extraordinary,
that we find it virtually impossible to believe.
So why not keep assuming the worst?
If we assume the worst we won’t be disappointed, or caught off guard.
We’ll make sure the dream is kept locked safely down, guards posted at the tomb, just in case.
Unless, we are willing to suspend disbelief
Just long enough to glimpse the eternal now that is God’s life.
We have so much practice at imagining death stars.
“Last days” get our money at the box office.
We invest heavily in the battle against death itself,
as though it were indeed the last word.
What if for one day
What if for this moment
we allowed our enthusiasm, our spirit,
to walk across the line where we are sure the wall must be.
What if we let God’s grace soar under our unfolding wings
and bear us up as the psalmist promised?
So if you have been raised with Christ,[wrote Paul, who was once the death breathing Saul of Tarsus] seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Sisters and Brothers, with a little practice, we can see forever.
Even as news of cataclysm and chaos flashes before our eyes,
The stone is rolled away.
After earthquakes devastated the entire city center of conservative Christchurch, New Zealand; artists came out of the tomb first.
*Collaborative groups drew people out with a miniature golf course spread across vacant lots, an open air performance space made out of shipping pallets, and a sound garden of chimes and rain sticks made of salvaged materials. Colorful murals appeared.
Into the rain ponds created in the foundations of demolished buildings, artists flung duck decoys. Restaurants popped up in shipping containers. An occupational therapist designs adaptive furniture from rubble.
They filled vacant spaces with moveable gardens that travel the city. As the lot it is in is restored, each garden moves to another barren corner.
Tongue in cheek emergency boxes appeared on walls around town with items stored like crocs and a Titanic inside, just in case. Memorials of simple white plastic chairs, empty, remember each one lost.
And while the badly damaged cathedral remains caught in the death throes of litigation between preservationists and those who would build anew, architect Shigura Ban quietly set up a soaring “A” frame cathedral framed in cardboard tubes. And we see beyond the bounds of death.
In Northern Ireland the Good Friday peace agreement has now held for 15 years; what writer Colum McCann calls “the astonishment of the impossible.”
“George Mitchell learned to embrace silence [and] allowed them to talk through their vitriol….a giant dictionary of grief.” [He gave them each other’s stories to invent a new language. Gone are the young girls tarred and feathered for falling in love with the wrong boy. Gone are the security mirrors being slid under cars. And gone are the people stumbling out of shopping centers with bomb blast blood trickling from their ears.” It’s far from perfect yet, but “at its heart, Northern Ireland is a country made new.” 
The 118th Boston marathon will be run tomorrow.
Says former mayor Thomas Menino, “ I have to tell you honestly, Boston is a better city now than it was before…..People learned how to deal with each other, they had to deal with a tragedy. ”
As one resident put it, “We are unified, not terrified.”
For survivors who lost a limb, or a sense of security, everything has changed. And yet they are the same people they were before,
walking out into life, healing in different ways and at different rates.
The last survivor to leave the hospital will never be able to return to roofing. He is now determined to become a motivational speaker. “It’s been mind-blowing,” he says, “all these good people who stepped out, who helped us…..All the victims I know feel the same way. Complete strangers who give when they don’t have.”
The marathon will run to its conclusion this year and the finish line will be the sign of a new beginning.
In hearts and homes quietly pierced by the most profound pain, eternity’s light leaks through the holes.
Earlier this week, two members of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, a grandfather and grandson, were killed by a gunman outside a Jewish Community Center. Daughter of one, mother of the other said.
“I have a peace about me. Literally, when I saw my father lying there I heard God say ‘He is in heaven.’” Hamilton called her [14 year old] son, Reat, “a remarkable young man, full of life, gifted in so many ways.”
[Their pastor] Adam] Hamilton added. “The family has a deep faith, and remarkable strength and courage. They don’t believe this tragedy was God’s will, but they do believe that Reat and Bill are safe in God’s arms…”
"Easter suddenly seems so much more important to me and for our church and community this year as we remember on that day that neither evil, nor hate, nor even death has the final word in our lives. " – The Rev. Adam Hamilton
Yesterday a young mother who pastors two UMCs in the Midwest shared this poem for her one year old son:
Saturday Mother, Sunday Son (for Carl)
you were born on a Monday early and eager full of life and your first Sunday was Easter Sunday (new life springs forth indeed)
we said goodbye on a Friday and it wasn’t Good Friday but for us it may as well have been
as we held vigil that last impossibly long night as you wept and we wept and the cup did not pass
and we loved you on Friday as you struggled with the pain as you fought for each breath
and if we could have saved you we would have (you know that, right? if love could have saved you, you would have never been sick a day in your life)
we watched and we sang and we prayed and we loved you
until at last you won the only victory that was left and you took that last breath and found mercy in knowing it is finished
I know that there have been many Sundays since you’ve been gone
but I feel like we are stuck in Saturday
waiting in darkness with tears powerless feeling like we’ve failed with nothing to say living every day with the weight of your absence and the sound of your silence where laughter used to be
and I try so hard to hold on to hope that Sunday is coming
I try so hard to hold on to hope until I can hold you again
here where I wait it’s Saturday still but you my son belong to Sunday and I will meet you there
If today, we just go home, have a nice meal, take some photos of family and friends to capture the moment if the afternoon is made complete by a nap, or the story about how that lady tried to sit in my seat (imagine!),
If today we leave hugging the walls of the shell we know,
even when it has been utterly destroyed by God’s grace,
If we remain hemmed in
if we choose to treat death as more real than the grace that births us,
the grace that sustains us,
the grace that enfolds us in more life than we can imagine,
then we choose an illusion that has caused more suffering than the world can bear.
The one who can bear it is the one, who steps out of the tomb, who reveals that the shell we thought was our limit, if only for now, is an illusion built from Adam through every generation until we too picked up the story of death and accepted being defined by it.
Which is more real, human sin or God’s grace??
Which is our beginning and our end?
Is it death or is it life?
So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, "Greetings!" And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."
 Justin Bergman, “After Earthquakes, a Creative Rebirth” NY Times 4-6-2014
 Colum McCann, Opinion piece, NY Times, April 2014.
 “In Focus: Strong in Boston, by Denise Lavoire and Paige Sutherland, Associated press, April 2014. Portland Press Herald