You Might Be A Christian If…You Are Kind of Weird At Biology

Sunday’s Scripture ~ I Corinthians 15:12-23.

Aslan has died. He sacrificed himself on the stone table in place of the traitor, Edmund. Bound and shaved, the great King of Narnia lays disgraced without breath in his body. Lucy and Susan, much like the women at the foot of the cross, weep uncontrollably. Their beloved friend is gone, along with their hope.

Then, CS Lewis “breaks” the “fourth wall” – a characteristic of his writing. He pauses the activity of the narrative and turns to speak directly to the reader:

I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been – if you’ve been up all night and cried till you have no more tears left in you – you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing was ever going to happen again.*

That chasm of quiet swept over Jerusalem after Jesus’ body was taken from the cross, swaddled in cloth, and laid in a borrowed grave. That chasm of quiet sweeps over any person and any house where the voice of a loved one used to be heard, but now is heard no more.

Sometimes the quiet is a welcomed relief. There is so much activity following a death that there is comfort to be experienced in the silence.

That silence…is also pregnant. Expectant. Full of energy as it anticipates being broken. What will be the first word? What will transform the silence into song?

The Rev. Jan Richardson is a writer and an artist; her chosen mediums are collaging, oils, and words. She is also a friend. I often turn to Jan’s art when I find myself in expectant silence. Below is a poem she wrote, I am sure, as she imagined the dew settling in the garden as day broke on the Third Day.

For Jan – the first word after the quiet that follows a night of mourning is blessing. Blessing accompanies the dawn.

Risen by Rev. Jan Richardson**

If you are looking for a blessing, do not linger here.

Here is only emptiness, a hollow, a husk where a blessing used to be.

This blessing was not content in its confinement.

It could not abide its isolation, the unrelenting silence, the pressing stench of death.

So if it is a blessing you seek, open your own mouth.

Fill your lungs with the air this new morning brings

And then release it with a cry.

Hear how the blessing breaks forth in your own voice,

How your own lips form every word you never dreamed to say.

See how the blessings circle back again, wanting you to repeat it, but louder,

How it draws you, pulls you, sends you to proclaim its only word:

Risen. Risen. Risen.

Thanks be to God. Amen.

*The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe 158.

**Circle of Grace 151-153; explore also janrichardson.com.

Jesus Said What!? ~ Let Him Who Has No Sword Buy One

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Luke 22:35-38.

The Tuskawilla UMC paraments – the cloths on the altar and the pulpit – are now green signifying we are in a period of “ordinary time” in the church year. (Ordinary Time technically started the first Sunday after Pentecost back in May…but the red or Pentecost paraments are my favorite and I like to enjoy them for more than just one Sunday.)

The Ordinary Time that follows after Pentecost is known as Kingdomtide. This period continues until the Season of Advent begins. During Ordinary Time we study Scripture texts that encourage us to mature in our daily expressions of faith so that we become more holy and whole persons.

To seal our Ordinary Time intention – to mature in our daily expressions of faith so that we become more holy and whole persons – I offer this blessing from one of my mentors and colleagues, Rev. Jan Richardson.

“Blessing the Ordinary”

from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

(Orlando: Wanton Gospeller Press, 2015)

Let these words lay themselves like a blessing upon your heard, your shoulders,

as if like hands they could pass on to you what you most need for this day,

as if they could anoint you not merely for the path ahead

but for this ordinary moment that opens itself to you –

opens itself like another hand that unfurls itself, that reaches out to gather these words in the bowl of its palm.

You may think this blessing lives within these words,

but I tell you it lives in the opening and in the reaching;

it lives in the ache where this blessing begins;

it lives in the hollow made by the place where the hands of this blessing meet.

See you in worship on Sunday, friends! May sweet blessings be upon you and bring our hands to meeting throughout this Ordinary Time.

Thrive: Source

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Ezekiel 47:1-2

When I was in elementary school I would spend a week with my brother at my grandparents’ home in Merritt Island. They lived on Pelican Court and it was paradise: bike riding in the cul-de-sac, spying fish off the dock, imagining wild adventures on my grandfather’s boat while it was still safely anchored in the canal, and all of the orange-flavored Flintstone push-pops I could eat.

Nothing – and I mean nothing – beats an orange-flavored Flintstone push-pop.

When you opened the door of my grandparents’ home the hallway that started at the front door came to its end at what we would now call a chair and a half. At the time it was blue with flecks of white; presently, it is covered in a cream colored fabric with cranberry toile accents. No matter the fabric, that chair and a half is a seat of blessing.

As a child I would sit in that chair and listen to my Gramps lightly snore through whatever show he was watching. No one dared to change the channel because he would instantly awake! I would also sit in that chair and my Nonnie would read to me. I would sit so close to her that when she tucked me into bed I would smell like her Coco Chanel No. 5.

My grandparents no longer live in that home on Pelican Court and that chair is no longer blue with flecks of white. I still see that chair each time I visit my grandparents and when I see it I remember the laughter, the lessons, and the love that I lived sitting in that seat of blessing near and with my Nonnie and Gramps. I like to think that chair was built purposefully to have more than one person in it…I never felt like I was crowding or being crowded. I felt like I fit. I fit there with my grandparents, and there, so close to them, I received blessings that I will never forget.

In our Scripture text for this week Ezekiel stands near the source of blessing in the newly constructed temple of the Lord. He sees the water flowing east from under the temple’s threshold and out into world – and as we continue studying this chapter we will learn that this water from God brings blessing wherever it goes. God’s people have been in exile – estranged from their God, their homes, and their true selves. In the vision cast before Ezekiel in Chapter 47 God gathers all that has been scattered and broken back together and brings healing. It is a vision of blessing; after a time of trial and sorrow comes a new dawn and new day. Because of God’s goodness and faithfulness to God’s people, there will be time for laughter, and lessons, and love. These blessings flow from the temple just as they flow from that chair in my grandparents’ home, only what I experienced and experience of blessing from that chair is but a glimpse of what we experience and will experience from God.

And that, my friends, is such incredible blessing.

I hope you will join us in worship over the next several weeks as we learn more about God’s blessings and our invitation to steward them to all our neighbors to the glory of God’s Kingdom. This is an important time as we discern, pray, and plan for our next season of ministry. I look forward to worshipping with you.

Prayer: “Come, thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.”* Amen.

*”Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” The United Methodist Hymnal 400.