Now that the Easter show is done we can get back to practicing resurrection.
Jesus death and rebirth weekend has gotten to be almost as embarrassing as his birth, this year so banal it didn’t even affect the basketball tip-off. The public figures most likely to talk about Christ act more like Jesus’ executioner than the guy who went into and then—astonishingly—out of the tomb. You’d think Jesus went into and out of a Texas voting booth. A clue from Darrell Adams: the more a person talks about Christ, the more it has to do with power; the more they talk about following Jesus, the more it has to do with laying down your life so mercy and justice might rise up. The disciples wanted a Christ, so they holed up in a little room scheming to get out of Jerusalem before Pilot found them. And why the women knew they could go undisturbed to the tomb. The powerful don’t care about yesterday’s Christ. Let a few women tend the grave.
The surprise—even to the women—was they guy who told them they could follow—not just honor—Jesus. But “why look for life among the dead?”
Still a great question.
The only reason to even bother being disappointed in the microphone christians is that they’ve wrapped a tepid bundle of dead ideas with language designed for life. There aren’t better words than salvation, repentance, forgiveness and resurrection. They vibrate with sacred vitality. I want those words out of the tomb and back into the wild.
They are accurate descriptive words for what I have experienced at Oakhurst Baptist, and on the mud and flood of Memphis and in the weekly wounded gaggle of saints of Green Street UMC. Salvation is what I saw rising up in among the 600 undocumented people the south Winston-Salem parking lot fearlessly waiting for their identity cards. Resurrection is what I see happening in the lives of the Supporters of Health, who nurture life where nobody looks. Grace is what won’t quit happening in Conetoe and what keeps Richard Joyner in the fields with the kids who won’t quit. Grace is what our community partners extend to the old Baptist hospital.
Life—not death—is what drives the Fellows of the Leading Causes of Life. It drives the collaborative learning among four dozen Stakeholder Health authors. You can see in the impossibly sprawling coalition known as 100 Million Lives. The real goal is all 7 billion of us. Revelations 21 sings with the same vitality: “the leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of all the people.” Of course, they are.
Don’t look for that kind of life among the dead ideas buried under gold, guild and guile. Turn around (“repent”) and you’ll start to notice resurrection oddly right under your shoes. On Easter I visited Hausbar Farm in east Austin with Kathryn and Fernando. It s not a Texas ranch. It is a couple of acres surrounding a former crack house. Surrounded by a chicken-wire fence is an organic miracle led by Gustavo (a very protective guard-goose ), ducks, bunnies beyond counting and a couple of waist-high burros. The improbably verdant garden supplies most of the high-end restaurants across the freeway with thyme, rhubarb and exotic ingredients (radish flowers) of all sorts of healing for the people.
I thought of Wendell Berry’s Mad Farmer.”Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” )
“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.
“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.”
The summary instruction: “practice resurrection,”
- Quit staring at the tomb. Turn away and seek among the living.
- Do not turn away from the wounded. Follow Jesus—and all who love life—to the bruised, broken, left aside and overlooked. Like seeds in soil, life tends to arise from the dark. Look under the bridges, on the wrong streets, into the eyes of those broken-hearted and poor in spirit. They will be surprised. And you will be surprised by the life you find rising up between you.
- Trust the Spirit that stirs in everyone still breathing. The Spirit Africans name accurately as energy; that the religious professionals mistakenly confused on Pentecost with spirits (even though it was only 9 am); Kant saw this universal human capacity for creative freedom as the possibility for liberating creativity. The future is alive and thus unknown because the Spirit moves.
- Don’t contain Spirit. Be like the ancient desert Jews and Muslims afraid to even to name the sacred. Don’t grasp enough to hand it to another. Let it flow through you.
- And then let it flow across all the boundaries dividing us from each other and all life. Nothing is divided; all boundaries imaginary. That’s why we have to educate so hard to create them and then build them up with violence. And why they melt with one true glance. Love casts out fear, blurs all the lines.
- Life moves, so beware anything in your life that feels like an anchor. Hold your institution and identity lightly. Beware “anchor institutions” trying to manage living communities like Frankenstein. Don’t do that. Set your mainsail with for some pilgrims unafraid to catch the wind of the spirit of life. That wind will blow surprising and true.
- Move toward the generative nodes in your life and neighborhood. Trust that which generates your own complex humanity. You will find the Spirit leading you toward communities of spirit where you will find life.
- Do not overlook the Baptists and the Methodists. Or those without brand. Or the Muslims and their healers giving away medicine on Saturday mornings. Or the Sikhs’ generously eclectic intellect. Or the artists who measure life in light. Or the farmers who love compost.
- Expect surprise.
- Love life. Find fear left behind as wrappings in the empty tomb. Do not look back.