Tag Archives: christianity

Practice Resurrection

wildflowers in the abandoned field near our house

wildflowers in the abandoned field near our house

Like every year, I spent some time this morning meditating on “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” by Wendell Berry.  For several years, it was my job to read it aloud at our Easter service at Mosaic.  Coming back to it every year is like hanging out with an old friend – and the poem speaks a little differently each year.

This season is about the unexpected – about God making all things new.  Perhaps at first there is fear for us – like there was fear for the women and other disciples.  But we choose hope. Not hope in the absence of despair, but in the face of it.  This is not the cheesy, superficial hope that quotes Bible verses like a tiny band-aid on a gaping wound – but the deep abiding hope that in honesty and anguish continues to seek the God who makes all things new.

We choose to practice resurrection.

Manifesto: Mad Farmer Liberation Front 

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion – put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Amen.

Lenten reflections

Lent colors
The first Ash Wednesday service I ever attended was pretty sad. Not just sad because we were  thinking about mortality and repentance – sad in the sense of a failure. I was helping to plant a church and while we’d had an exciting public launch – 5 months into it our numbers had dwindled.

I was leading music that night and was setting up the slideshow for projection in our 4th floor attic room. But just before we were to start, some folks from our host church came to take the projector for their own event. So there we were – the 6 of us singing while crowded around an old, donated laptop. We read some prayers and reflected on our mortality and our need for repentance.  We received ashes.

Lent that year was so challenging.  I was fasting weekly and gave up music in the car so that I could pray instead.  It was probably too much all at once, but it made me very aware of my need for God. Take away a little food and my music and I was keenly aware of my how much they were coping mechanisms for me.  At church, Lent was hard too – our numbers were low and we wondered if we would ‘make it’ as a plant.

But that Lent season ten years ago became a powerful time both in my life and in the life of Mosaic.   Something outside of ourselves was at work. Our Holy Week services were incredibly powerful for our small crew.  With Resurrection Sunday there was new light.  Literally.  There was an incident where a candle caught the tablecloth on fire…

Once, my 3 year old niece was upset at being given a time-out saying “This is terrible! I don’t know what’s going to happen next, this is terrible!”  In that, she captured the human condition.  We don’t know what will happen next and we can’t control it.  Lent reminds us of this – time in the wilderness.  Coming face to face with our limits.  Dealing with our dependence on food, caffeine, music, or whatever it is.  Waiting longer than we want to for a dating relationship.  Losing a loved one.  Facing transitions.  Hoping for children.  And we can’t know when the light will come until it does. As Florence + the machine says, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.”

The season of Lent reminds me that wilderness seasons are a part of life.

So as I sit with Lent this year, I come up against my limits and I am at the same time grateful and impatient.  Grateful because I am reminded that I am but dust – I am limited.  I have little control over circumstances.  I can choose to be grateful.  But I am impatient also for the dawn.

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I am using the website http://www.pray-as-you-go.org as a guide for my Lenten prayer times.  It has audio of a prayer and reflection time that I have found very helpful in ‘holding the space’ for meditation and prayer.  

june 4 in pictures (and in my heart)

Pro-democracy protesters link arms to hold back angry crowds, preventing them from chasing a retreating group of soldiers near the Great Hall of the People, on June 3, 1989 in Beijing. Protesters were angered by an earlier attack upon students and citizens using tear gas and truncheons. People in the background stand atop buses used as a roadblock. (AP Photo/Mark Avary) #

You can see more images from The Atlantic of Tiananmen Square in 1989 and today in 2012.

This news event shaped my childhood and my ethnic identity.  It continues to shape me and my ministry.  I wrote this a few years ago:

And I’ve spent the last 8 years working full-time with college students.  When I think about Tiananmen Square, I look at my students and imagine men and women their age captivating the world with their hopes and dreams.  Now more than ever,  I believe that college students can change the world.

Read the rest.

I’m pretty interested to hear Chai Ling (one of the main leaders of the movement) speak at Urbana12 in December!

an unexpected way

It’s easy to forget that the first disciples woke on Easter not with excitement, but in the 3rd day of mourning. The women going to the tomb were still coming to grips with all that had happened since the previous week. I woke today with no great excitement – part of it was the weather (gloomy), and also my own worries and fears.  I did not see a way out of them.

The day got better – a potluck with friends that included a surprise Easter egg hunt. I had forgotten (or did I ever know?) how fun looking for Easter eggs is! There’s a surprise and delight factor at seeing the bright colors hidden in the grass or in car doors or on ledges.  Maybe that’s what is great about Easter egg hunts – on a very small scale it reminds us of the delight and surprise at the resurrection.  So unexpected, so outside of the disciples’ control.

I went home to read and journal before ligurgy and picked up Henri Nouwen’s Finding My Way Home: Pathways to Life and the Spirit.  The third chapter is entitled “The Path of Waiting” – and I especially appreciated his points about control and fears.

… our wishes tend to be connected with our fears, and fear, of course, prevents us from allowing time in our lives for open-ended waiting.  For this reason, a lot of our waiting is not open-ended.  Instead our waiting is a way of controlling the future.

But Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, Simeon, and Anna were not filled with wishes.  They were filled with hope.  Their hope was something very different.  Their hope was trusting their fulfillment would come, but fulfillment according to the promises of God and not just according to their wishes.  Hope is always open-ended.

…To wait with openness and trust is an enormously radical attitude toward life.  It is choosing to hope that something is happening for us that is far beyond our imaginings.  It is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life.  It is living with the conviction that God molds us in love, holds us in tenderness, and moves us away from the sources of our fear.

He doesn’t shortchange how hard waiting can be, but gives new perspective.  I am grateful.  It’s what I needed this afternoon.

Easter liturgy at mosaic starts the way Saturday’s liturgy ends – in the dark with the windows all covered. But there’s a discernible buzz – restless and waiting.  ‘Were you there when they laid him in the tomb…’ plays, and I lean over to a friend whispering, “It’s like Christmas, but so much better!” I had worried that my dark morning would drown out the joy of Easter, but was glad that it didn’t.

At Eucharist, I remember what Nouwen writes about prayer being a way that community comes together around a promise.

This is what Eucharist is about.  It is saying ‘Thanks’ for the seed that has been planted.  It is saying ‘We are waiting for the Lord, who has already come.’

Amen.