March 24, 2008

Burning Heart

This morning's reading brought me to the two guys walking the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. This is another story in Scripture I love. I would so love to hear Jesus tell stories. They were trying to make sense of what just happened in Jerusalem. Jesus walked up asking, "What are you so intently discussing?" and walked and talked with them.

Everyone was so sad. All their hopes that Jesus was the one to redeem Israel were shattered. Jesus couldn't have been the one, because they killed him.

We ourselves have just come through the season of Lent and lived again through the week of passion. I put a potted cross Dawson made years ago for me along with a barbed wire 'thorn of crowns' on our kitchen table adorned in black from Good Friday through Saturday night. In the hopeless waiting, in puzzlement over it all, we can ask questions too, like: How can we make sense of it all? What on earth has gone so badly wrong? Why should this have happened? If we want God's hope, God's love, God's thoughts instead of ours - then we have to go though a time of silence, of resting, of unknowing.

John's "Word of God" fell silent; the living water no longer flowed; the bread from heaven scattered; the light of the world got snuffed out; the good shepherd, snatched away from the flock; the grain of wheat, falling into the earth died; the Messiah came, and his own rejected him.

Then I ponder two lines from a poem, (I think by TS Eliot): "On the seventh day God rested in the tomb/ Having finished on the sixth day all his work of joy and doom."

But surprise!
Jesus started appearing to people. He had already gone through death and out into God's new world, God's new creation and he's come forward to meet us, 'back to the present'. Though it still seems dark out there, the new world has begun.

Mary Magdalene was the first to see the risen Jesus. "Very early in the morning while still dark, she came to the tomb..." She, the first witness, brought Peter and John running to the empty tomb, puzzled and worried and scared. This was something they'd never imagined! Jesus appeared to people with his body fully alive.

Jesus is wanting us to leave the old creation behind on the cross and work at making more bits of the new creation happen within the world as it still is. Didn't Jesus keep saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" here and now?!


Before I go to bed Saturday night I drape the potted cross in a white lace tablecloth and hang a garland of roses. It's our early morning visual reminder of the resurrection. Some years, since Dawson and I raised silk worm moths and him other moths, I've put cocoons on the table for the days leading up to Easter, and hang butterflies we made from feathers over the table Saturday night. It helps kids understand the resurrection process better.

We need to pray for vision and wisdom to know where God can and will make new creation happen in our lives, in our hearts, in our homes and communities.

We stand on resurrection ground. We are in the Season of Easter between now and Pentecost. We need more prayer, more parties, more knocking on God's door to see what he wants us to be doing; and more celebration of God's new creation!

The two on the road to Emmaus didn't recognize Jesus. While walking, he told them stories from Scripture. They invited him home with them to eat. The moment Jesus broke the bread, they recognized him, and then Jesus disappeared. He reappeared later to the gathered disciples and there again shared stories. Like the two said, I too would love to feel (and maybe I do), "Didn't our hearts burn within us as he talked, opening up Scritpures to us on the road?"!
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