Important Disclaimer

Since I currently have several employers/supervisors/churches/etc., please know that none of the words on my blog represent them or their beliefs. This blog is my own creation.

It also does not represent my children's perspective, nor my mother's; they think I am funny, but misguided.
(Quick update: only my mother thinks I'm funny now.)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Cristo Vive

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, "Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?" When they had looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.
~Mark 16:1-4

Ewing Presbyterian Church graveyard

Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, I came to the office to make coffee before the service. I saw the sunrise and ran upstairs to try to catch a better picture from the window,
accidentally setting off the alarm. When I realized I did not have the alarm code, I yelled "Oh, shit!" and texted the pastor to let him know that the authorities would be visiting soon. I had a lovely chat with the police a few minutes later, but as I listened to the alarm blaring in the dark building I fumbled with my keys to get in to where the coffee maker was. My heart was racing. So much for my peaceful hour of preparation...

Here, then, is my meditation from the sunrise service, imperfect and hurried, as the morning did not go as planned for me either:

Very early, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary and Salome went to see the tomb. They brought spices to anoint his body--the body of their friend, brother, teacher, lover. We are drawn in to the Easter story--a story whose ending we think we know. But in the early light in a graveyard, how would they have know that Jesus would live again, that all was not lost? In the early light of our own graveyards, when all is lost and in ruins around us, how are we to know that Jesus--that we--might live again?

They had watched him for days, weeks, months, years. Once a confident, learned teacher, with winsome, charming ways--so much potential, even if he was a bit odd. They loved him, because how could you not? Some people in our lives are just like that. some lovers, some friends, some children, some teachers. They get under our skin and make us new people. But in those last days they had watched him on a suicide mission. One misstep after another, on crazy move followed by an even crazier one. They watched as Jesus pulled apart everything he had built--as he pulled apart their lives too.

They watched him die slowly, cruelly at the hands of others, but complicit in provoking the anger of the authorities. Oh we can blame many people for the death of Jesus, but he knew what he was doing every step of the way. When our lives fall apart like this, where else can we turn to but biblical lament? When it seems that even God has abandoned us, what is left but tears and prayer?

This has been a season of grief for me, with one loss after another piling up until I can't breathe through the thickness of my tears. Too many goodbyes. Too much solitude to think about the loss. Too many old ghosts haunting my spirit. Again and again I come back to Lamentations, this story of ruin and desolation, brought on by God, by enemies, by our own actions...

I am one who has seen affliction
under the rod of God's wrath;
he has driven me and brought me
into darkness without any light;
against me alone he turns his hand,
again and again, all day long
He has made my flesh and my skin waste away,
and broken my bones;
he has besieged and enveloped me
with bitterness and tribulation;
he has made me sit in darkness
like the dead of long ago.
He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;
he has put heavy chains on me;
though I call and cry for help,
he shuts out my prayer;
he has blocked my ways with hewn stones,
he has made my paths crooked.
~Lamentations 3:1-9

[Here we invited one another to write down griefs and sorrows we wished to lay down at the tomb. We placed them in a brazier nearby and let the fire take them.]

Trusting joy is not my strong suit. Oh there is joy to be found! But it so rarely lasts. I trust, I surely do, that there will be more grief tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that. I trust that the winters will go long and cold--I was sure that this winter would never end.

When my sons were born, they didn't sleep through the night for 10 months each. I was certain with both of them that I would never sleep again. I remember sitting in the dark at 3am with a wailing child, certain that I would die from sleep deprivation. 

Joy is an unreliable creature.

But I don't know where else to turn but to ancient sources--stories from people who moved on this earth 26 centuries ago. If, long before Jesus came and went, the people knew that God's mercies would return new each morning, then of course the tomb is empty. If these are the reassuring words of Mary Magdalene's people--if the words still ring true after Christ's death, then they are my words too:

my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, 'Gone is my glory,
and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.'
The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul,
'therefore I will hope in him.'
~Lamentations 3:17-24

When we finished, we sang a song called Cristo Vive:
Christ is living, no more weeping, 
no more time for grief and pain!
Neither death nor tomb could hold Christ, 
who is living once again.
Do not look among the dead 
for one who lives most certainly;
Christ is living! 
Hear the good news that resounds so joyfully.

This was definitely not the song we sang, but it is the song in my heart today.

Christ is risen in deed
However fleeting, may you find joy
in the smallest things
if necessary
and may you trust that joy will come again
may I trust that joy will come again.



  1. ”We need a witness to our lives. There's 7+ billion people on the planet, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage of friendship, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness'."

    Morning has broken. Happy Easter.
    Bom dia. Feliz Páscoa irma amiga. .
    Muito abraços fortes, beijos milhões.


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