Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | September 27, 2017

The humility of healthcare

This week the Republican leadership of the US Senate has decided not to vote on a possible new healthcare act. I know it’s a temporary delay, but for now, it’s a good step.

The still active Affordable Care Act certainly has its issues and problems. Not least among those are that the current government is reducing funding, not holding insurance companies accountable, not planning to continue to support Medicaid expansion (indeed, many want a shrinkage of Medicaid).

Yes, there were problems before this administration and, yes, Democrats should’ve worked with Republicans to craft the ACA, just as they now want Republicans to work with them. A bipartisan bill will be a better bill than either party can create on its own, and I hope we’re headed down that path.

Here’s what I find most disturbing about the whole thing: all the Christians who are unconcerned about poor people, sick people, and especially poor people who have the bad luck to be sick. Last week I heard James Comer (a Republican member of the House of Representatives, from my state of Kentucky) say on national TV, “People that deserve to be on Medicaid will continue to be on Medicaid.” I don’t even know what that means. Does it mean that only some desperately poor persons are the “deserving poor,” a demeaning designation I haven’t heard in years? (Oh, and who decides how to separate people into the groupings of deserving and undeserving?) Does it mean that those who are writing the house and senate bills plan to pare down the Medicaid rolls so deeply that only a few will be left in a system designed to fail?

The bill that is currently under consideration may, or may not, be good financially for some. But there’s no indication at all, despite protestations (by those same “some”), that it would be good for the most vulnerable: those with pre-existing conditions, elders, children. (Did you know that 20% of all children in the US live in poverty? See statistics about childhood poverty here. Surely nothing perpetuates poverty as deeply as when children begin life without the basic things they need, including adequate healthcare.)

Admittedly, healthcare laws and reform are complicated. There is no easy fix. But we’ve elected people to do the hard work of fixing it, not to remove from people the essential help it provides.

Just where am I going with this in a lectionary blog?

Here’s where. Bills that increase suffering, especially of the most humble, aren’t very humble laws themselves, nor are they designed with humility. Jesus people shouldn’t be supporting laws that aren’t Jesus-y. I’m closing with part of this week’s text from Philippians.

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 
who, though he was in the form of God,
   did not regard equality with God
   as something to be exploited, 
but emptied himself,
   taking the form of a slave,
   being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, 
   he humbled himself
   and became obedient to the point of death—
   even death on a cross. [from Philippians 2]IMG_7248, LR adjusted, copyright, low

© 2017, Melissa Bane Sevier

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Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | September 4, 2017

The only debt we owe

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law. [from Romans 13]

Paul sometimes gets a bad rap. And, honestly, IMHO, sometimes deserves it. But I have always adored this passage from Romans. It simply reminds us of what’s important, but does it in such a way that it’s easy to remember in one word.

Love.

Sounds trite, doesn’t it? It isn’t. It’s as deep and substantive as theology gets.

Do you want to fulfill the commandments? Love.

Do you want to be faithful, keep from hatred and murder, refrain from taking what isn’t yours, refrain from wanting what isn’t yours? Love.

Love isn’t always easy, or there would be a lot more of it. As we struggle to define what is or isn’t right—in our world, our families, our country—everything must be put to one test: does it exhibit love? If the answer is yes, you can’t go wrong.

Stay out of debt, says Paul. Oh, except you owe one thing, and you owe it to everyone.

Love. It’s the only debt we owe.IMG_8168, copy, copyright, low, blog 9-4-17

© 2017, Melissa Bane Sevier

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | August 30, 2017

Deluge on holy ground

When Moses encountered the burning bush, he was just minding his own business. Literally. He was taking care of his father-in-law’s sheep. Maybe dreaming of a better future. Occasionally wondering what was going on with his friends and family back in Egypt, a place he’d had to leave after murdering an evil overseer. A people and a place that needed him.

The bush. The voice. The order to remove his shoes because the very ground on which he was standing was holy. Just plain old dusty soil on the mountain, dotted with a few scruffy bushes and sheep droppings.

Holy.

And the recognition that even such an ordinary place could be holy sent Moses back to other holy ground, a place of suffering in Egypt.

God can, and does, designate any place as holy ground. The places where we have sacred encounters can be anywhere God is.

This week we’ve all seen pictures of unprecedented flooding in Texas and Louisiana. And we’ve watched, open-mouthed and teary-eyed, as people risked their own safety to save lives or recover the dead, to bring food and potable water—to bring hope.

Every dollar we donate, every prayer we raise, every conversation in which we honor survivor, victim, and rescuer—all of these recognize that God is present with the suffering. Indeed, that God suffers alongside them.

Because the ground over which more than fifty inches of rain fell—that ground is holy. It’s holy because of the suffering that has taken place there. It’s holy because it will take a long time to get back to any sense of normalcy.

It’s holy because God is there.IMG_7250, copyright low, my blog 8-30-17

© 2017, Melissa Bane Sevier

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | August 10, 2017

Thicker than blood

We often hear people talk about biblical family values. Obviously, those folks haven’t read the actual Bible. The families there are full of favoritism, treachery, lies, cheating, even murder—or attempted murder, as in the story of Joseph and his brothers. (Read it here.)

Joseph is Jacob’s (aka Israel’s) 11th son, and his favorite. You’d think Jacob, of all people, would realized that favoring one child over another isn’t good parenting, since his own parents did that with him and Esau. Or maybe it just is a pattern he knows and can’t escape.

The favoring of Joseph nearly costs his life, and it leads his siblings down a horrible moral path.

We know that families can be schools of kindness, love, friendship, growth.  They can also be schools of meanness, favoritism, dysfunction, sometimes even abuse, as we see here. Most families are inhabited by both good and bad characteristics. Our actions, both good and bad, often have unforeseen consequences, both good and bad.

Joseph’s father Jacob wounds him and the other sons with his favoritism.

Joseph wounds his brothers with his ego and by playing up that favoritism.

The brothers, out of their own hurt and woundedness, harm Joseph and their father in return even more deeply. The boy is sold and presumed dead. Then they grieve with their father as though the story they invent were true.

All of them live with this lie and this deed for two decades.

Jacob believes the lie and never stops grieving. The brothers maybe even convince themselves it is true. But on their beds at night, with darkness penetrating their daytime masks of decency, they surely remember.

Joseph himself never sends a message home. Why? Anger? Ego? Fear?  He names his son Manasseh, for “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” (41:51. Literally, “making to forget.”) I don’t think so!  Every time he calls his son’s name, “Making To Forget,” he remembers.

Everyone in this story is deeply harmed by others, and everyone in this story harms others deeply.

Blood is thicker than water, we say. That isn’t necessarily so, as we see the deep hurt in many families, in every age. And even those of us who are lucky enough to have great family relationships sometimes inflict pain on each other, intentionally or not.

Life is filled with unresolved conflicts.  Sometimes we learn to live with them; sometimes we don’t.

You may want to finish reading the Joseph saga before next Sunday, when there will be some resolution. God will fashion something good, even out of the remnants of this messed-up family. To be honest, it doesn’t always happen that way.

In the good or the bad, we keep on going. We attempt to find ways to keep our strong relationships strong, to fortify the weaker ones, to let go of the unhealthy ones, and to determine the differences among the types.

All of these can be results of the work of God’s work, as well as the spirit-work we do on ourselves.

It often isn’t easy. It often is quite complicated. Yet this God-work and spirit-work can make our relationships healthier, even thicker than blood.IMG_6067, copyright

© 2017, Melissa Bane Sevier

 

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | June 26, 2017

There’s always room

When I was in college I had a friend who would often approach a crowded table in the dining hall, bring up a chair, elbow her way in, and exclaim, “There’s always room for one more!” And there always was. She’d say the same thing when someone else was looking for a place to eat, and she’d make sure that person had a seat at the table.

What if we lived that philosophy?

“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” [from Matthew 10]

Most of us are willing to welcome prophets and the righteous, but who are the “little ones”? Is Jesus referring only to the children?

Maybe. But it’s more likely that it refers to all those who are vulnerable, invisible, thirsty or hungry, overlooked, as children were in his day.

Churches are usually great at coffee and donuts, social time where we welcome guests who are a lot like us in appearance, belief, status.

What if we took to giving cold water to the “little ones” instead of just welcoming the usual suspects? It may mean opening our eyes. It may mean going outside our doors instead of waiting for them to come to us. Our own status may even suffer if the identity of our church involves encouraging equal welcome and status to the physically and mentally handicapped, if we go out to meet and to serve the poor and actually get to know them?

What happens if we change our image by spending time with the homeless and join them in their gathering places? If we learn from them instead of just wanting to tell them how to live? If we actually get to know individuals who are not like us?

In that case, we won’t just be giving a cup of cold water. We’ll be sharing cold water with each other, as we learn to change our preconceptions and welcome people as Jesus did—with grace and a determination to bring equality.

Why? Because there’s always room for one more at the table.IMG_8078, copyright, low

© 2017, Melissa Bane Sevier

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | June 21, 2017

Family time

 ‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!

 ‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.

 ‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

 ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
[from Matthew 10]

I love my mom. Actually, I love my father, too. And I’m sure I would have loved my mother-in-law if she had lived long enough for us to meet, though I still do interior battle with the sainted mother of my husband who “made the best bread pudding in the world.” That’s kind of hard to disprove when she’s been dead for over 50 years.

I digress.

This passage from Matthew is hard because families are sometimes hard, and Jesus says we should be willing to fight with them. That he came to set us against each other. Well, I think we can argue just fine in our families without Jesus’ help, thank you very much. But why would he want us to turn against them?

Isn’t Jesus about peace, after all?

Jesus is getting ready to send the disciples out on a mission. He’s giving them instructions. The oft-repeated theme: Don’t be afraid.

Don’t be afraid when opposition comes. And it could come in many forms, even through the people you love.

You’ll be called names like Beelzebul—devil. Don’t let that make you fearful.

Now is the time to start telling aloud what you’ve heard from me in our private tutorials. Don’t be afraid.

God will be with you in a big way. Don’t be afraid.

You may be called to account. Don’t be afraid.

If God can care about a single sparrow among thousands, then how much more God will care about you. Don’t be afraid.

Finally, your own family may turn against you. Don’t be afraid even then.

And here we’re seeing something of what went on in Matthew’s world. As he was writing his gospel, the church was beginning to experience some problems from religious authorities, and even from family members.

If the head of household has a particular religion, everyone else has to follow. This believing in Jesus thing may make your family disinherit you, or kick you out. That has economic fallout, not to mention social ramifications (you won’t be invited to cousin Sarah’s wedding) and the simply personal issues of feeling abandoned by those who are supposed to support you.

Bearing the cross may be the cause of all kinds of difficulty. But Jesus calls us to give our lives for his sake. Because in giving them up, we find them.

Sometimes the gospel, the good news of Jesus, requires us to do some things that don’t look like peace. We yell at the 2-year-old who’s about to run out in front of a car. We make our kids do their homework or take their medicine even when we know they will get angry and fight us about it, but we do it because we love them and know it will be better in the long run. We tell our loved ones, when we’ve worked up enough courage, that we don’t like the way they treat each other and maybe they should go for some counseling. Or that they are harming themselves and the people around them with addictions.

So maybe we don’t believe in peace at all costs after all. Those who give up their lives for my sake will find it, says Jesus.

But we have to be careful we don’t sound like a cult. Our culture is very different from the one to which Matthew addressed his gospel. We’re not about telling people to leave their families, because Christianity is an accepted religion in our country, not one that is suspect, as it was in the first century.

That doesn’t translate exactly into our world. However, some things do translate. Families can be either a place of nurture or a place where nurture is in short supply. In every faith community there are those who have experienced family as nearly everything it should be—love, peace, fairness, affection, tenderness. And there are those who have experienced family as troubled, difficult, lacking in something, or even a place of neglect or abuse.

Family is, by default or design, our first school of relationships. But by now we know that family is far greater than biology, and even greater than the family that lives under the same roof.

Family is as large as a church, as great as a community, as huge as a world. As we understand what Jesus is getting at, we find that our sense of family is enlarged, and we find ourselves enriched.

We give up our hopes for the “perfect family” (as if), and make our hopes rest instead on creating the kind of community where all are loved, welcomed, and nurtured.

Those who give up their lives for my sake, says Jesus, will find it.IMG_5409, copy

 

© 2017, Melissa Bane Sevier

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | June 14, 2017

Take no bag

I have always wanted to be a tiny-purse carrier. Alas, my nature seems to work against it.

At this moment, I’m on an airplane. At my feet, crammed into the space under the seat in front of me, are two items. One is my computer backpack; the other is my rather large purse. In that pocketbook are essential items (wallet, phone, lipstick) next to the non-essential ones. I consider the latter to be in the you-never-know-when-you-might-need-this category, and I have used each of them at some time or other. Here’s a partial list: 6-foot tape measurer, a tiny screwdriver with interchangeable blades, a small flashlight, toothbrush and toothpaste, hair paste, Kleenex, Purel, Band-Aids, Sudafed, Tylenol, chocolate (oh yeah), sweater, sunglasses, reading glasses, carrier for my business cards, a bazillion pens, notebook, a packet of those wonderful little Post-Its that mark a page in a book, and a book that may need to be marked with Post-Its. I also typically carry a Swiss army knife, but when I fly it goes into my checked bag to be returned to the purse at my destination. (In my backpack are computer, tablet, camera, charger cords, journals, and more.)

On occasion, I’ve tried to convert to a tiny purse. I am able to do it for an evening out when I can get by with just a phone, driver’s license, credit card, and a $20 bill—my large wallet won’t fit in a tiny purse. Beyond that, I’m at a loss. What if I start sneezing, or need a bottle opener?

When Jesus sends out the twelve, he charges them to do good work, and tells them what to carry along, or not. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts… So far, so good. I don’t usually carry those things, except for the random penny.  …no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. [Matthew 9—10]

Wait, what? Did you say no bag? Not even a tiny purse?

“Tee hee, Jesus. I know you haven’t traveled that far from home, but I find that when I’m traveling it sometimes gets chilly in the evenings and I may need a sweater.”

“You may.”

“Plus, fellow travelers might stub a toe or get a headache.”

“They might.”

“Or” (I think this may strike a nerve), “what if we need to take notes about your stories and lessons so we can write a gospel later on?”

“Write this down,” says Jesus. “You won’t need them on this trip. I’m trying to teach you something.”

“Which would be…”

“You’ll be going among strangers. Some of them have different religions. All the villages have their own customs. Some may be hospitable and some may not. Instead of relying on yourself, rely on them. This will teach you to receive as well as to give. It will help you to appreciate the things they have to share with you, including their food and its particular spices, their hammocks for sleeping and their tunics for when it gets chilly, their stories and their experiences, their faith and the things they care about. When you stub your toe or get a headache let them take care of you. If they don’t do these things, just walk away. But if they show you hospitality, you will have gained a relationship that will warm you and reward you. Most of all, you will be changed by them, just as they will be changed by you.”

When we let go of the things that don’t matter, or even the things that do matter, like food and security, we find out whom we can trust. We learn who will reflect God’s character to us.

Helped by each other. Warmed by each other. Changed by each other. Strengthened to keep on going to the next place. And when we get to that place, if it gets chilly in the evening I may need to ask you for a sweater.

© 2017 Melissa Bane Sevier

from airplane 6-14-17, lightroom adapted, copyright, low

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | May 30, 2017

Spirit and statistics

So, there they are, having breakfast together in the fellowship hall, worried about the future. Budget. Attendance. Absence of young people.

Talking about statistics.

Nobody believes anymore. Nobody cares anymore.

When do you think Jesus is coming back? Tomorrow, says one. Next week, says another. I don’t know, says a third, I mean he seemed to be leaving for a long time, on the cloud and everything…  It didn’t appear to be a round trip. Do you think he’ll ever really be back?

I don’t know. But here’s what we should do. Let’s sit in this room and worry. Yes, that’ll do it. If we sit here and worry, then all those unchurched people will come in. That’ll be the key to bringing back our youth. Yep. Sit here. Worry. Oh yeah, and pray. Maybe before we die, Jesus will return.

Okay, maybe that’s not exactly how the Pentecost story is told in Acts 2. But it is interesting that after following the guy all over the place, now they are sitting in a room, worried and afraid.

It’s not that different now, is it?

What is happening to and in the church? What do the statistics tell us?

Well, there are lots of different answers to that. A few years ago I attended a conference that had lots of speakers. Every single one spoke to this issue, and every single one had a different answer. All of them—all of them—are certain they are correct. They know why the church is declining. They know how to make the church better. They have the secret.

Some of their prescriptions:

  1. Return to the strongest parts of our tradition. We need to recover what we’ve lost and the right way to do that is to go back. Avoid electronic stuff in worship and social media. Use only traditional music. Preach longer sermons. (Seriously, someone said that—preach longer sermons.)
  2. Throw out tradition. The culture has changed and we need to change along with it. Use electronics and social media to the max. Use only modern music. Preach shorter sermons. Or no sermons at all.

What do we do with all that conflicting advice? The “secret,” if there is one, is always local. It’s not what someone is doing in Atlanta or Calgary. It’s not what someone is doing at one of the megachurches, or at some new house church. It’s what we need to do in every local congregation.

What is that? I have no idea. But here’s what I think. It has something to do with Pentecost.

Let’s go back to those early disciples at Pentecost who don’t know what is going on, and who don’t know what to do next. But they are doing some of the right things. They are together, they are praying and singing, they are thinking and talking.

They are also, I humbly suggest, doing some of the wrong things. They are together, but they are alone, behind closed doors. They are praying and singing—alone, behind closed doors. They are thinking and talking—alone, behind closed doors.

So what happens? The spirit happens. And it is crazy. Alone and behind closed doors, the Spirit enters like a mighty wind. This is not what they are expecting or what they think they need.

It looks as though some of them have flames of fire resting on their heads, and the flames are not extinguished by the wind—they are fanned by the wind. And something—the spirit—makes them run out into the streets. Maybe they are trying to get away from this wild ecstatic experience. Or maybe they can’t help themselves. And they start speaking in tongues—in foreign languages they apparently don’t understand. But other people understand. The Medes and the Parthians. The Cretans and all those others. And they marveled. They marveled that these people are—get this—speaking in a language we understand.

They are speaking in a language we understand.

And that is the story of how the church began. Speaking new languages, the languages of the people outside its doors. The languages of the world at large. Some of those people who heard it went back to their own communities changed by the experience. And they didn’t repeat the flames-of-fire-speaking-in-tongues thing. They did their own thing. The spirit moved differently in different communities because there were different cultures, different needs, different languages, different people.

So how does your congregation get to the right place when nothing seems to be working? I haven’t a clue. But you will start to get a clue when the spirit chases you out into your community to speak the language people understand, to meet them in the streets, to understand that the spirit is out there, not just in here.

Should we be talking statistics? Sure. It’s helpful. But the mission of the church is always to be blown into the spirit’s future. Whatever the statistics show, they don’t show the whole story.

The spirit and the community are the whole story.

© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2017

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | April 17, 2017

Making space in our souls

All the Jesus followers have a similar experience to Thomas’s. They just happen to be together in one place at the same time when Jesus comes to them. Thomas stands out because of his absence, and he pointedly tells them he doesn’t believe their story.

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’  [from John 20]

The soul space Thomas has allotted for faith is already full. He already knows everything he needs to know. The things he’s been taught from birth that have come down from the ancestors. The experiences he’s had in synagogue and religious instruction. The teachings of rabbis. He made a little more space, or at least tried to, when he learned from Jesus all sorts of things that seemed different—not to take the Sabbath so seriously, to avoid hypocrisy, to consider God’s heart in addition to the Law.

But this? It feels as though his whole group of friends has become, well, unhinged. As though reality has lost its meaning. At least any reality he’s experienced.

When he agrees to go back with them to the house, he’s determined he’ll stick with only what is real. But reality takes a sudden turn. New receptors in his soul are switched on, making space for him to see and receive things that a few moments earlier were invisible, incredible, and unacceptable.

As people of faith, we often believe and act as though our faith is fixed. Finalized. We’ve had enough life-changing, life-shaping experiences, thank you very much. And so we unintentionally shut ourselves off to things that force us to grow. Growing is sometimes difficult and painful, because it often requires us to let go of something we’ve believed or held dear for a long time.

We stop learning. We stop expanding. We stick to our ideas, not ever examining the origins of those ideas or where they are located in our souls. We become afraid of (even demonize) people whose very lives challenge us because they come from a different place, geographically or emotionally, politically or metaphorically.

Honestly, having static souls is normal and understandable. But this story calls us to make space for things that feel abnormal, for things that we may not ever fully understand.

When we make soul space for unfamiliar people and experiences, our very hearts, lives, minds expand. We become fuller. We grow into greater faithfulness. Our inner selves are amplified.

In this Easter season, let’s emulate the open-hearted disciple by making space in our souls for new people, new experiences, new faith.IMG_7390, LR adjusted, copyright, low, blog 4-17-17

© 2017, Melissa Bane Sevier

Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | April 10, 2017

Resurrection is life

On Palm Sunday, at least 49 people died—bombed while they were at worship in Egypt. The week before, Syria attacked one of its own cities with sarin gas, killing over 80 so far, with hundreds more still critically ill.

I can hardly bear to read or hear about these stories; they are so painful, senseless, tragic, evil.

And yet, it is essential that we approach Easter with clear eyes, avoiding clichés about resurrection and about life itself.

Both resurrection and life are complicated.

This week’s lectionary offers two choices for the gospel reading: John 20 and Matthew 28. Either one gives us a glimpse into how being confronted with death, life, and resurrection creates fear, consternation, confusion, joy, and so many other emotional responses. Life itself is complex enough; throw death into the equation and we realize how little we know. We just sort of feel our way through.

As people of the resurrection, news of death reminds us that life is for a limited time, and that the limit is unknowable. Therefore, Easter pulls us to make as much as we can out of our own lives, and to bring life to places where it is needed.

Resurrection pulls us

  • From the things that are soul-killing toward those that are life-giving
  • From fear to peace
  • From despair to hope
  • From gazing at poverty to making sure everyone has enough
  • From turning our backs to offering our hands in friendship and equality
  • From hiding to receiving the hospitality of others
  • From being distracted by so much that is meaningless to paying attention to the important
  • From sticking with the familiar to exploring the world
  • From being disconnected to reaching out

The darkness, death, and evil we see in events like those in Egypt and Syria serve as deep reminders that we have work to do. Life to share. Hatred to conquer.

How do we do that? We live. We move through every day with resurrection in our souls.

What gives life to you? To your loved ones? To your community? To people you don’t know?

Look for resurrection—that complex, beautiful, important, imperfect, confusing, hopeful resurrection that is part of what we profess—and let it pull you toward life.

© 2017, Melissa Bane SevierIMG_1969, copyright, low, blog 4-10-17

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