Service on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/seeyouonsunday/videos/894562458313866
I believe that resurrection is more than just a moment, it is a way of life, it is a deep truth of the universe–that life, beauty, joy cannot be destroyed. One of my favorite stories is one journalist Andrew Solomon told a story of how, a decade earlier, right after the fall of the Taliban, he went to Kabul with the purpose of writing a story of the return of art in Afghanistan because, under the 5 years under the Taliban, images of living creatures, music, singing, dancing, any form of art was strictly forbidden under penalty of death.
Andrew went to the UN offices and asked about the art in Afghanistan, and after being directed to several other offices, he was told, “There is no art in Afghanistan.” Can you imagine a world without your children’s drawings, without lullabies, without celebrating in dance? Andrew’s translator heard about and took him to the Kabul Art Museum which was having it’s grand re-opening. On the walls of the museum, there were landscape paintings, ones that would not draw the ire of Taliban. The curator, at this reopening event, took a bucket of water and a sponge and washed each canvas. When the Taliban rule began, he had carefully painted over each person and each animal so the art would not be destroyed, and here he was, cleaning the canvases, and they came to life, filled with creatures who had been hidden. The curator said there was a lot of art in Afghanistan.
He sent Andrew to a painter of miniatures, holding on to a tradition of the past that others had sought to destroy. He sent Andrew to poets, giving words to their feelings, lifting their voices after have so long been silenced.
The poets sent Andrew to a singer who had clung on to the last shreds of music by filling his house with birds, not in cages, just everywhere in his home, because there is some music that cannot be silenced. The singer sent Andrew to musicians, practicing traditional music, on traditional instruments, in a house so cold they had to wear gloves. Some had kept their instruments mixed into their wood piles out back, finding comfort in their presence and believing they would play again.
Andrew invited them to play together, at the home he was renting, he invited all the journalists he knew there, the artists and the poets he had met along the way, and the folks who said there was no art. As the house started to fill, the musicians started to play and they didn’t stop. They would one at a time to get food so the music wouldn’t stop. And the curfew to be on the streets was drawing near and no one left. And they danced, and they played, and they ate, and they celebrated until the sun rose the next day. Andrew Solomon said, “There is a kind of music that is only possible when you’ve been silent for five years.”
Even if it was for but a moment, there was music, there was joy and celebration, there was new life, a new promise, liberation. It isn’t a passive hope, but a hope that lingers and expects, a hope that waits and anticipates. It was hope that led the singer to fill his home with birds and the musician to hide his instrument in his wood pile.
Mary Magdela and the “other Mary”, maybe the mother of James and John, probably not Jesus’ mother, on that first day of the week, went to the tomb. Matthew’s gospel doesn’t say that they brought oils for anointing Jesus’ body for burial,–that had already happened at the last supper when the woman had poured oil out on Jesus’ feet. Maybe they were going to grieve, maybe they just wanted to be near him. Maybe they remembered what he had said… about the resurrection and the third day. What we see is that as soon as they were able, as soon as the sky began to lightened just a little, they were on their way and they were there at the tomb.
I like to think it was hope that brought Mary Magdela and the “other Mary”, maybe the mother of James and John, probably not Jesus’ mother, to the tomb that morning. Hope that expects and waits. I like to think that they decided to believe that everything Jesus had said was true. He had spoken of resurrection and what if it was true.
And so against the whole odds, against the power of the Empire that sought to kill Jesus and his movement, against all perceived lack of value that they had as women in a patriarchal culture, against reason and rationality, they got up and they went. Then the unexpected: the Earth shook, the angel rolled the stone from the tomb, and the soldiers, the symbols of the military might of the empire, became frozen in fear, like they had died.
It seems the women were afraid too, why else would they be told not to be afraid? But it wasn’t fear alone. And the fear didn’t control their decisions, it didn’t rule the moment. They didn’t get stuck in their moment of fear. The angel said that Jesus had been raised, and that the Empire that had orchestrated and executed their teacher, their Lord, could not kill Christ. Not violence, nor anger, nor powers, not even death itself could destroy the Christ who came in and was love. When the whole world waited in darkness, while the disciples waited in fear, while Mary and Mary waited in hope, life was being restored, liberation was coming to the oppressed, love was overcoming hatred, and life was conquering death.
They showed up in hope not because hope was what Christ need to be raised up, for the angel to come and roll the stone, Mary and Mary needed hope not to get stuck in despair, not to be overwhelmed by fear. Hope is what had them waiting at the window for the first light, gave them the strength to show up, and then the courage to go on the mission that they were given by that angel, a message that was for them alone. There was no backup plan for Mary and Mary going and telling the disciples what they had seen and heard.
And they got up to tell the disciples that Jesus would meet them in Galilee. They would be going to Galilee too, and they would see Jesus there, and then Jesus does what he doesn’t have to, he comes to Mary and Mary first. There wasn’t a new message or mission, there don’t seem to have been many words exchanged at all, although, I’m sure there were more than those documented. Perhaps Jesus was giving them the courage to keep going, to celebrate their hope that waited and moved.
There have been hard times in our lives and culturally. Seems like every time we turn on the news there’s bad news or difficult things. It has been frightening. It seems that there are more reasons to live in fear than to hope. It is easy to be stuck in sadness. It is easy to get lost in the darkness. It is easy to be overwhelmed by fear. Some days it seems that is all there ever has been: sadness, darkness, anger, and fear.
It is easy to give up on hope.
But the resurrection reminds us that there is a reason we can hope. That the darkness does not last forever. That death does not have the final answer. That hatred and violence do not overcome love. New life and new growth come at the end of the cold, gray winter. Music is played where there has been years of silence. Resurrection is a moment and a way of life and living. It is who we are and what we do. It is living as there are always ways to begin again, to be restored and renewed–and that it is always done in love and life. Resurrection restores whole and abundant living to us and calls us to be those who bring resurrection living–whole and abundant life–to those who are still waiting.
The promise of the kin-dom of God and the promise of the resurrection living is that the world as it is today is not as it will always be. That where there is injustice, there will be those who follow the call to stand up; where there is oppression, there will be those striving for the liberation of all; where there are those who are hungry and hurting, there will be those who feed and heal; where there are those who are pushed aside-marginalized and called less than, there will always be those who are building a beloved community with them at the center.
It might be you and I, it might be us, answering that call. That is the resurrection, that is the hope of the promise of new life, that even in the difficult times there are those, sometimes us, who struggle with it, resist it, hum music, and paint pictures in it, hope waits and does, lingers and demands something better because the music will return, the light will come, and love cannot be killed.
May you have hope even in the darkest times, to fill your home with songbirds and to hide your instrument in the woodpile until the music returns. When you aren’t sure there is a reason, may you stare out the window for the first lightening of the sky to Be reminded that the powers of this world cannot kill the one who is love and calls us to live love, that there is always new life, there is a reason to hope.