Friday, November 02, 2012

All Saints' Day, 2012 Cathedral School Chapel Service, Wangaratta

A poet named Wendell Berry has two lines from a poem called "Manifesto" that I'll start with today. First, he says, “every day do something that won’t compute.”  Now that’s not easy most days: I like my computer, I love my  iPhone, I love my iPad even more. And a computer helps us to do so much, to go so far; it can be such amtool for exploring and entertainment, it opens so many interesting options! 

 But Wendell Berry says that there are days to turn off the computer and do things that don’t make sense to a machine. And he gives a simple two word commandment at the center of his manifesto which I would like to talk about today: he says, “Practice resurrection.”

That’s not an easy one to get our heads around. There’s a story of some people lost driving on back roads in the country, I’m not sure where – could be not far from here – and they see a guy along the side of the road. They stop to ask driving directions;  they asked to get to a particular place – let’s say Mansfield – and the guy looks around looks up and looks down, looks away and looks at them and says, “I don’t know if you can get there from here.”

A lot of us are not sure how to get there, how to practice resurrection, or even talk about resurrection from here, from this Computer-world; but Christianity, this tradition that is several thousand years old, like other wisdom and justice traditions, special and rare ways to see and be in the world, says that resurrection does happen, that there is a life beyond the life we see here, and that you can get there from here. It just takes time.

The Greeks thousands of years ago had two words for time. First was Chronos, and we get two words chronological and chronometer from that; it has to do with history and clocks, for that kind of time. It has to do with things like: World War II ended in 1945, the test will be held next Wednesday,  the examination will take one hour. That’s time that takes time, time you can prepare for, put on your calendar on your iPhone.

But there is another word for time Kairos;  and that has to do with right time: time to eat lunch, time to hit the ball, time to watch the sunset, to kiss somebody, Time as gift and opportunity in the moment that only comes once and needs to be  seen, touched, moved into, quickly. Time as right…now.

 I was up in Darwin in early August and there is a beach not far from town where there’s a farmers market on Friday night and at dusk when the son gets close to the water at the end of the day people walk out on the beach and they stand or sit on the sand and look quietly is the sun begins to set in the light changes color and slowly you can see the sun falling below the horizon maybe down to a half circle and a quarter and then a sliver and then just a bare hint of light as the sun sets. And when that happens people do three things: first they go AWW!, then they say goodbye and wave, and then they applaud they clap their hands, and that is a moment of Kairos.

 The Old Testament lesson today says that God will destroy death at the top of the mountain and in the Gospel for this morning Jesus brings his friend Lazarus  out of the tomb, back to life. And that really doesn’t compute!

But the reason these stories are told, the reason this community and communities like this gather in this place and in places like this, and have for thousands upon thousands of years; is because there are truths, there are times, there are realities, that do not compute; moments when you wake up and see the gift in the middle of the world that you might have overlooked before, and you see that  life can be very big and amazingly wonderful in a way that’s not easily understood because it’s not very easy to get there from here. 

When I was at the farmers market that evening  in Darwin at the park next to the water I was more interested in buying something: a new shirt or a gift for a friend or maybe something to eat: I didn’t expect that silent wonderful moment watching the sunset with a crowd of people I didn’t know, yet had so much in common with; the shared silence, the sound of sympathy, the gentle applause. Sunsets like that don’t compute, nor does sympathy, and even simple love is hard for a computer to get its head around.

But we come here today to keep our eyes open and our sympathy fresh to remember how big and gentle and wonderful, how big a gift this life is. how full of opportunities that are full of grace and growth. They can happen all through the day, they can come as a surprise at sunset, and even at sunrise.

 The prophet Isaiah says that death will be destroyed at the top of a mountain. Jesus calls his friend Lazarus to come back from death. And the  Christian tradition holds on to the hope that Jesus, killed on the top of another hill, is resurrected, rises from the dead, and that the reality that Jesus is alive means that all the dead will live in him, that love lives here and now as a gift (Chairs) shared with everyone, right here in the center of the whole creation.

This does not easily compute. But these gatherings, this place, this tradition of wisdom and caring, all serve to point to a gift that is bigger than we know, yet has to do with us. That God is love, that love lives, that we can face the sadness and death of any sunset (the times when love looks lost, when we lose people and things we love, knowing that the sun will rise, that Jesus lives, that Jesus will come carrying all that love with him., and that love lives here today. 

But it is not easy to get our heads around this; it takes time to grow into it, it takes time (chronos), prayer, discipline, to let it ripen in us, and surprise us with the larger reality of love (that chairs of right now). And that is why we need to practice resurrection.

In the name of Christ. 

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