Thursday, April 23, 2009

It ended with a fizzle...

Well, with the click of the send button the last exam was completed and handed in and officially I'm done all the course work that I'm going to do for seminary. In some ways it is the biggest day of the last 5 years, and in others it was just a cold May day in Saskatoon.

Walking out, holding a cliche box of office supplies and flanked by two classmates carrying the rest of my books, guitars, drums, and other random crap it felt... normal. It still feels normal and the reality of never returning to full time study again slowly settles in.

In some ways there is so much to look forward too with the new career and move across the country, but in other ways it is all loss. Loss of community, loss of lifestyle, loss of carefree existance.

So it's the biggest day, that ends in a fizzle as I wait for a few more weeks for anything else to really come together.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Graduation Party

Ahh... the end of a program. This year at the grad party not only did we roast the prof's, but they made the grads dance and sing and a good time was had by all.

The first of many events that mark the end of one thing and the beginning of another. Change...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Sermon

Sermon: “The Resurrection of our Lord”

Is. 25:6–9, 1 Cor. 15:1–11, Mark 16:1–8

Easter Day

Christ is Risen! (He’s Risen Indeed) x3
The great mystery of the faith. Christ has died, Christ has Risen, Christ will come again.
Today is about expecting and deserving one thing, and then receiving something else... something completely unexpected and more wonderful than could have been hoped for.
Imagine yourself on that lonely walk up the hill with the women. A long, hopeless, lonely walk to the tomb of the much beloved one. Imagine that you had hoped that this friend would lead a revolution that would change everything and everything would now be as it was supposed to be. Jesus was supposed to start revolution - He was supposed to change the way people related to each other and God... it was supposed to be a promise that would have over thrown the oppressive system and banished an invading army from the land... It was supposed to be Emmanual coming - a new time of God with us. All of this was crushed on Friday. And now - a long and lonely walk...
All is fear... All is uncertainty.
The very Son of God had come to offer a new way to be, a new relationship to God, a new life. ... ...
And instead of embracing this new life, this new promise, this relationship, God in Jesus was rejected and sent on a long and lonely walk to the cross. The best and the brightest that humanity had to offer.... the religious elite, the educated, the government officials, the jeering crowds... all had rejected him... and now... he is dead. The collective weight of fear and self interest caused the best and brightest to turn all their hatred and hopelessness onto one person with catastrophic results. Christ is crucified.
Where there was trust, there is now fear. Where there was a sure hope, now there is severe uncertainty.
There is sever uncertainty in our world. It is so much easier to look to the uncertainty and point to the signs of death all around us. There is an old newspaper slogan - “If it bleeds it leads” - People like to slow down and watch a car wreck. People pay money to watch that kind of death and destruction painted vividly in News Reports. In so many ways, death makes for better news than life... at least that is what the ratings show.
Back in January, when we were all still digesting the last of the Christmas Feast... songs of Joy and Thanksgiving for the light coming into the world still ringing in our ears....
And this is the head-line on the CBC news web page “Jubilance, uncertainty as world rings in 2009.” and below that... “Israel gives Green Light for Gaza ground offensive.” Death, uncertainty, fear. It seems we almost like scaring ourselves. Or perhaps we like telling tales of death and uncertainty.
I gotta tell you a story about this little kid named Max... Max is a kid who just loves Legos!
It’s Christmas and he was visiting his Grandma’s house. (I realize that it’s Easter, but Easter begins at Christmas so stick with me...)
Max’s family had eaten the huge festive meal and it was getting late... This is good news for Max.
Late means all the dishes will be done soon.
Late means all the adults will be in the living room soon.
Adults in the living room means that it’s officially after Christmas Supper.
After supper on Christmas Eve means that it’s time to open up the presents! It was so exciting. And oh man Max had dreams... space lego was all that Max could think of.
Max had all the bases covered. He had written three messages to Santa. One by mail, one by email, and one by text message off his Dad’s phone. Max felt he was well covered in the Santa department. Santa should have gotten his messages.
He also wrote another letter to his Grandma... and he was sure that she was going to give him the legos... I mean... Max made it clear. He made a list. On the list was: Lego. It was the only thing on the list... and it would be hard to screw that up... it was all that he wanted.
There was one small hitch in the whole plan... Max and his Grandmother had had a terrible fight. Max didn’t know how it happened, it was just one of those things that happens when you are in relationship to another person. Max wasn’t sure if his Grandmother was going to give him a present this year. He wasn’t sure if he deserved one.
The family gathered and all sat down to open the presents, and he and his brother and his sister were handed gifts from grandma and he watched his brother open his present... and it was... Socks! The grey kind that itch with the red tops.... Ohhh no...
Oh noooo... socks... well, that’s just his brother... and he’s weird, and maybe that is what he wanted? Maybe he wasn’t good enough this year and this was some sort of punishment! Hope sprung up in Max’ heart.
So he watched his sister open up her present and it was... What do you think?... Socks!... oh no... what had gone wrong! Maybe his sister wanted itchy, hot, sticky feet... the kind that only grey wool socks with red tops can give...
Now all eyes turned to the little boy... it was his turn to open his present. He gave it a little shake... no sound.... legos make sound...
He gave it a little squeeze... oh no... it was soft... legos aren’t soft... legos are hard...
With fear and uncertainty in his heart and a fake smile on his face, Max opened the package and it was... he couldn't believe it was true. He kept smiling and said “Thank-you Grandma... they look... warm...” with as much energy as his crushed little heart could muster...
His Grandma said, “You’re welcome... I know that your feet are cold when you are out playing and you need to have these things to keep your feet warm... Could you do me a favor and get me some coffee from the cupboard?” There was a strange gleam in her eye... what was going on?
“Yes Grandma” Max said... he walked dejected to the cupboard... all that he had hoped would be this day was now gone... you can’t play with new socks... you can’t colour on them... and you can’t wear them inside... they are too hot to wear... you certainly can’t build them into a space lego set... and they itch.
He opened up the cupboard and there were three boxes. He picked one up... it had hard hard edges... and it sounded like pieces inside. It shook... it sounded like lots of pieces inside! It was legos!
“Merry Christmas” his Grandmother cried out!
Merry Christmas... can it be that just a few short months ago we were calling out Merry Christmas to one another... celebrating a light coming into the world - the birth of a new child. Hope of what could be in a new year infused everything.
All of us for a moment trusted that God that had not forgotten us - And in this Joy and celebration, we were moved to put up lights, to give gifts, to party and celebrate. The light had come into the world and for a brief moment we heard and saw signs of hope.
And then somehow all that celebration of the light has also left us with the world that we know. We all know how that many people died needlessly in the Gaza strip. We all know how hard the world is suffering from economic crisis. We all know about the many environmental warning bells that are going off around the oil sands - the back bone of our economy is having a greater cost then we first imagined. We all know how hollow the promise of new life can sound as we face our personal demons. We all know that God feels pushed aside, and God’s people and creation are ground under foot, cast aside and used up and forgotten.
The light of Christmas appears to be snuffed out by the reality of life, by the reality of the events of Good Friday. In this moment, all of history could have been lost.
Max’s Grandma didn’t need to give a present. But Grandmas keep giving presents not because kids are good... Grandmas give presents because they long for relationship - they long to do good things for those they love. Even when kids are a little thorny, Grandmas continue to come to them. To seek them out. To love them.
And here is the surprise ending. The long lonely walk to the tomb ended with better news than could possible have been hoped for.
So, We celebrate the ending of the long hopeless walk of the women who first came to the tomb and found it empty.
We celebrate with those who first heard the good news from the angel sitting in the the tomb. “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.”
Be Not Afraid says the angel... You can Trust God because God is trustworthy.
Be not afraid says the angel, God’s will to come to us has overcome even death. The light of Christmas is not snuffed out today, but it is added to by the light that shines brightly out of the empty tomb.
Be not afraid says the angel, Christ has looked deep into the human heart, the human selfishness, the human pain, the human death, and he did not turn away.
Be not afraid, the relationship to God is fixed, all was... is.... and will be reconciled to God.
The tomb is empty. There isn’t coffee in the cupboard... there is lego!
Joined to Christ, we will face a death like his, but we will also experience a new life, like his.
So Come, taste and see in the communion meal - the bread and the wine of new life and forgiveness, that we are about to share together, This is the meal of the goodness of God come down - nothing now separates us from God.
Come, taste and see that Christ who was killed is on a cross did not, would not, could not stay dead.
Come, taste and see a love that is bigger than death.
Christ is risen. (He is risen indeed)