Sunday 7 April 2013

Sermon for Easter 2 - Crackpots for Jesus?

It’s the Sunday after Easter – We in the modern Church know the whole story of Easter by now – We are happily celebrating the Resurrection and all that it means – apart from lots of sick stomachs after an overabundance of chocolate!

But when we turn to Scripture there is a strong sense of discord because our Gospel starts on anything but a joyous note! It starts in fear – Jesus friends and followers are hiding like refugees or criminals. They are behind locked doors. They have lost everything that they held dear – their future has been thrown into turmoil and they are to put it mildly terrified.

They are deeply traumatized by their loss – it means adjusting their whole approach to life.
And even when Jesus reveals himself the trauma is not ended because this is still not how they planned it – Jesus wasn’t meant to die – Yes he is resurrected but he will be with them for but a little time before they have to get used to loosing him all over again.

Yes they will have the Spirit but they like we form strong relationships and attachments and however strongly we believe in resurrection and eternity find it hard to lose the ones we love. It is not a sign of the weakness of our faith but rather the depth of our Love – loving and losing and the pain that goes with it are a part of the human condition. It is what makes us the beautiful and fragile creations that each one of us is.

The whole of life can be described as loving and loosing – whether it is a loved one, our hopes and dreams, our plans and ambitions, our health and even our own lives, everything and everybody we love apart from God himself is transient and fleeting.

I have been thinking about loss quite a bit this week and especially after listening to an interview (via with a man called Kevin Kling, a comedian, poet and playwright. Born with a disabled left arm, he lost the use of his right one after a motorcycle accident nearly killed him.

He thus experienced two very different kinds of loss in his life, one inherited and one acquired and he makes some interesting observations in comparing the kinds of loss he experienced.
Quoting from one of his poems he says this:
'Now when you're born into loss, you grow from it.
But when you experience loss later in life, you grow toward it.'

What did he mean by that? Well if I interpret him correctly - that if you are born with a loss, of whatever kind it is already a part of you and you don’t have to make a conscious effort to adjust to it – you move outward from it and it is something that is a part of your subconscious.

But when you loose something later in life you have to adjust to the new circumstance – you have to dig deep into your own reserves and find those things that a part of you that will help you to live with your new reality. In this sense you almost have to go back to a sort of childhood and begin your life again in the light of the new you. You do this so that you can incorporate this change and loss into your life rather than allowing it to end your life.

Kling tells a parable which he wrote himself which illustrates the point beautifully – Its called The story of the cracked pot:

'Back in the days when pots and pans could talk, which indeed they still do, there lived a man. And in order to have water, every day he had to walk down the hill and fill two pots and walk them home. One day, it was discovered one of the pots had a crack, and as time went on, the crack widened. Finally, the pot turned to the man and said, "You know, every day you take me to the river, and by the time you get home, half of the water's leaked out. Please replace me with a better pot." And the man said, "You don't understand. As you spill, you water the wild flowers by the side of the path." And sure enough, on the side of the path where the cracked pot was carried, beautiful flowers grew, while the other side was barren. "I think I'll keep you," said the man.'

The story it seems to me is a wonderful illustration of the beauty that can come from brokenness and loss. Its also as the author himself observed in that interview about how we respond to loss rather than being defined by that which we have lost….'what we bring rather than what we are not.'

But lets bring all this back to disciples and their fear and loss and lets put ourselves in their shoes for a moment, because we are – this story is our story too.
What does it mean for us and for them? Well I think it is about our baptism – where we are baptized into the death of Jesus Christ so that we may rise with him. Those words are part of our baptism liturgy – I wonder how often we really think about their implications? We have to reorient our lives to that change – we have to go back to the beginning and live in the light of the pain and death of Holy Week so that we can enter into the joy of the Resurrection.
We also have to fight the temptation to allow the hurts and pains of this life define us – we have to grow towards our pains and our losses so that we can with Gods help turn them inside out and allow them to become sources of hope and inspiration, moments of Grace even

All of this is possible because of what Jesus did for us, cracked pots that we are (as opposed to crackpots, a subtle distinction) – let us not waste the unlimited potential that is in every single person created in his image. Let loss not cause us to fear loving but let our loving transform our loss.