Saturday, March 30, 2013
The Easter Address that never was...
My favorite of the new media set has to be Twitter which is a microblog. It’s a bit like writing a journal of thoughts and happenings but really value Twitter’s challenge of saying what I want to in 140 characters or less.
I discovered a website this week that encourages you to write an autobiography in six words or less. It’s full of people both famous and ordinary trying to distill their lives down to six words about what is most important or distinguished or interesting about them.
The site has also spawned several books, which collect the best of the stories; the first was called “Not Quite What I Was Planning,” and the most recent is titled “It All Changed in an Instant.” I find it fascinating, both how popular the site is and also what a challenge it is to try to fit something about our essence into such a narrow form.
Some six-word stories are poignant: “I still make coffee for two,” writes someone recovering from a breakup. Some are clever: “Well, I thought it was funny,” is the offering of comedian Stephen Colbert. Some are tragic: the inspiration for the project was an old tale about Ernest Hemingway, who, challenged to write a story in six words, is said to have come up with this: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
It made me think that for all the joy and fanfare of the Easter celebrations, for all the mystery of faith in God, for all the billions of words used over centuries to explain it all, Christianity itself has a 6 word autobiography: Jesus is risen from the dead.
There are thousands of words in the Bible and none of them make any sense without these 6 words.
These are the words that the breathless women carried from the empty tomb back to the other disciples. These are the words that have been passed from person to person, from community to community, every day since then -- in secret, in triumph, in darkness, in celebration.
These six words that have taken us from scattered, broken people who are lost to the largest religion in the world. It is these six words that have found countless individuals whose lives were already dead -- broken by pain and suffering, by sin and darkness -- and given them new life.
These are the words that are whispered at bedsides and shouted from rooftops and shared at dinner tables and workplaces and in neighborhoods. These are the words that have been forbidden by governments both ancient and modern, and yet somehow they have still been spoken, still been shared. Millions of lives have been transformed by these six words beginning with Mary Magdelene at the empty tomb.
C.S. Lewis once said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
This is the story of our lives, the story of the life of the world, the story of life itself. It is the story of how life is stronger than death, how God’s love for us is stronger than death. It is, in the end, the only story that there is.
And so, in Easter, we hear these six words again: Jesus is risen from the dead.
How will these words change your story? Where do you hear the call to new life -- to come out of the tomb you’ve been sealed in, the tomb of fear or the tomb of hopelessness or the tomb of dreams that have been lost or delayed? How will you receive this news that is now handed again to you?
And how will these words change the world? What does our story still have to say to a world at war, a culture at odds, a people in pain? How will we be sure that they will hear our story of hope?
Every day we write our story again, and we say that it is no less true today than it was on the first day; it is no less miraculous today than it was on the first day -- no less shocking, no less joyful, no less important, no less life-changing and meaningful.
Jesus is risen from the dead. Run and tell the others what you’ve heard.
Due to illness this will not be heard this year but is also my article in the parish mag