I am aware that this past Sunday was Pentecost, but I think that it is important to spend some time discussing Bishop Charleston’s understanding of Easter and resurrection before we go much farther along. My discussion is based on Charleston’s book The Four Vision Quests of Jesus. Bishop Charleston is a Native American who spent years looking for the connection between his Native faith and Christianity. His understanding of Easter, the heart of the Christian faith, is that it is an everyday affair in which we form personal relationships that free us from violence and establish freedom and love for each other. Resurrection opens our vision so that we see each other more clearly in our everyday relationships. Something that the day of Pentecost brings home for we are divided by our differing languages.
We think of God as the great transformer, but in what ways do we transform ourselves and our world? Is God the only force of transformation in our lives? I have asked for my life to change and then waited and waited. It finally dawned on me that nothing was going to happen until I did something. We may say that God brings about change in the world or the church or the family or a person. But it is not until we are joint change agents that something is going to happen. Once we decide on a course of personal or communal action, we have a supporting agent in our actions. We can not leave all actions of change up to God.
Yesterday, I listened to a group of graduating students talk about their school experiences. They were sure about their participation in group activities that affirmed them including their life at Saint Peter’s. What happens to those students who are not lucky enough to find groups of people at school or church? I recall that one of the students talked about how important crying was. This person was silently supported by at least four others, not all of them from the same school. Tears release the tension caused by frustration, anger, disappointment, and inability to understand. Tears are not normally accepted in our society, especially for males. Yet there are times these students seemed to be saying when they are very important. I suspect that they were supported by at least one or two groups to provide the release of tension that was advised. I raise this issue because of the increasing student violence in our nation. The perpetrators appear to be students who have no groups to support them. They are isolated, loners who are filled with anger to point of rage and express a state of hopelessness; a great contrast from the students we heard on Mothers’ Day. The Bishop-Elect of Colorado said in an e-mail after the recent shootings in Colorado: “It is the call of the Church to be communities of hope…hope in Love and the gift of life. I pray that our communities of faith will have to courage to address not only the pain within their congregations, and also the communities outside their doors…” I share this hope and the hope that, with God’s grace, we will have the wisdom and strength to address the vulnerable both within and outside our community who need to know hope.
Sunday was Easter Sunday, but it is not the final day of Easter. Easter ends fifty days from Sunday with Pentecost. Between now and then, we celebrate with several Gospel readings about Jesus’ appearances to the disciples so that they might gain an understanding of his ministry. If you recall, they had not figured that out while he was on earth. If you are like me, you don’t quite get the resurrection either. You understand that is central to being a Christian, but you have nothing to relate it to in your life. Jane Harris sent me a copy of Teri Daily’s Easter Vigil sermon which reminded me of the resurrections that happen “…every second of our lives, if only we have the eyes to see it.” Then I started thinking about the many resurrections I have experienced or known about. The time that it took to be sober, and then, to be able to laugh. Lillian and I went to buy the Eucharist wine one day. I waited in the car while she went into the store. Two cars started honking. They were both empty. They took turns honking as if they were in conversation with each other. Comparing notes, Lilian told me that there were two men in the store who kept hitting the buttons on their fobs thinking they were stopping the problem. Instead, they were causing the noise. I realize now that if I had been drinking, my response to all that noise would have been different. I am thankful for that fun memory. What resurrections can you think of daffodils, green yards and pastures, crab apple trees, plum trees, iris? Spring awakening from the death of winter?