Reflection: Shake, Rattle and Roll
At the end of your worship bulletin you’ll find some questions about the Easter story and how it connects to your life.
I wonder how many of us have beliefs about the world that get in the way of seeing the new life that is all around us, the possibilities that are everywhere – both everyday possibilities and miraculous ones? A small group of adults in the church have been doing daily readings and prayers from a book together. In this book, the writer, whose name is Donna Schaffer (Lenten Lent) talks about how the way we speak and think about what’s happening around us can really get in the way of our hope. She uses an example of a group of people talking about Colony Collapse among bees. You’ve probably all heard about how entire bee populations are dying due to changes we’ve made in their environment, and how that’s really bad news for the future of the flowers and the food plants we depend on. She wonders how it might change the conversation if instead of having our “Isn’t it terrible?” talks someone said, “I saw a bee just now – just over there!” See how that changes the conversation? Suddenly hope enters the picture, and our hearts are lifted up, and the possibility of something other than total gloom and doom arises in us.
That’s why we tell our Easter story, year after year, and why each Sunday is celebrated as a little Easter. We need to remind ourselves that Jesus has been raised, and that everything we thought we knew for sure can change – does change! – when God crashes into the picture, shakes things up, and we get onboard with what God is doing in the world. The Easter story is our buzzing bee in the midst of the gloom, our symbol of hope when the world seems a mess and we start to despair.
You see, the disciples thought THEY knew how the world worked. They thought that in order to beat the guys in power – the priestly orders and the secular rulers of their land – they had to beat them at their own game, because it’s all about who’s on top. Even though Jesus warned them otherwise, they thought being with Jesus meant that they would be bigger than the big guys, tougher than the tough guys, greater than the greatest, and they’d squash their oppressors in the dust, with Jesus on a shiny gold throne to oversee it all. And when they saw their Jesus – the one they believed to be their Saviour, their new leader, their king to be – taken down by the very guys they had feared and wanted so badly to defeat – well, they thought that was it. When they saw Jesus beaten up and bloodied and hung up on a cross to die a terrible death as a common criminal, well, they figured that meant those big guys were bigger than Jesus, bigger than God, and something had gone terribly, terribly wrong. So they ran away, and hid.
The only ones who stuck around were the women: the woman who had given birth to him, the woman who had anointed him with perfume at great personal cost, the women who had financed his ministry, the women who had journeyed with him. They stuck around. They were there to see what they thought was the end, and they were there first to find out that God doesn’t play by the world’s rules. Violence and hatred and devastation and doom are not God’s plan for the world; and now and then, and once in one truly spectacular way, God sends a message: hope is real. Newness of life is not only possible, but guaranteed, when we let God in to shake things up and roll out something new.
The disciples were so shaken up that instead of trying to elect a new leader to make their king and saviour, or give up altogether, they actually went to Galilee as they were told to do, met Jesus there, and did the next thing he told them to do – go out and preach in Jesus’ name, share his story, and never forget – Jesus is with them. Jesus is with them, and Jesus is with us – alive through the Spirit, still bringing life and hope into the world. So while we’re standing around bemoaning the fate of the world or how difficult day to day life is or how sad certain things are, how about just noticing, once in a while, “Jesus has been raised! Jesus is alive!” and hear the hope that enters in, with just those few words.
I believe God wants to shake up our belief in the accumulation of power, in the need to fight to get to the top, in the use of violence to get what we want, in scape-goating those we think of as “not like us” in order to preserve our way of life – all of that and more. I believe God wants to show us that the only way up is down – in other words, God wants us to face the fact that the way we human beings try to organize ourselves and solve our problems by competing and grabbing and fighting – well, it is killing us. It killed the one who was the face of God for us, and it’s killing the planet we live on and the creatures we share it with! I believe God wants us to let go of that, and to find a way that moves through humility and vulnerability and the giving of ourselves as Jesus gave himself to us. The way downward is the way to new life.
Jesus went to the cross because human beings sent him there – and Jesus came from the grave because God brought him out. God doesn’t give up, and God isn’t going to let us give up either. God’s not giving up on you, and God’s not giving up on me.
So then, what in your life needs to be shaken up to let hope enter in? Do you need something to rattle your cage and make the earth under your feet shift just enough to see things in a different way? What would it take for you to embrace the power of Easter, and celebrate the joy that those women knew when the stone rolled away? Whatever that is, I invite you to be open to the possibility that Jesus really is alive, that Easter can be enacted in any moment at any time in your life and the lives of others, that at God’s still working and that more is possible than you and I can ever imagine. “Look, there’s a bee!” “ Look, Jesus is alive!” Hope enters the world once again. Alleluia. Amen.