#Respect is the podcast for April 1, 2018. How Jesus rolls out the Resurrection a sign of the profound respect that the Lord has for us, even as he saves the world. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Mark16 #Respect #Chaos #Order #Change #Revelation
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For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/1/2018 Easter.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 16:1-8.
If you think about it, sometimes we, too, come to Church expecting a dead body in a tomb with a huge rock separating us from a dead lord. The Easter Vigil starts in darkness to represent the nothingness from which we were created and the loneliness of the disciples who gave their entire life to follow someone who ended up dead on a Cross; laid in an empty tomb.
Everything about this death is just crazy and mixed up. It is a Roman Centurion who is supposed to guard the dead man on the Cross who confesses that the dead man is God’s Son – as he hears Jesus’ last breath. It is one of the guys from the council that decided to kill Jesus that buries him in a freshly hewn tomb. The disciples who were closest to him flee and stay away; the women who viewed from afar come to anoint the body with spices the next day. It is a grave that comes to symbolize life. Finally, the response of the people who followed up until his arrest is fear.
As we hear from the Genesis story, the Lord creates order from chaos. He created humanity in a Garden, where there was no death. We Christians, we seem to forget, like the disciples at the Cross and the empty grave, that death is foreign to what it means to be human. We are people of life. God created us to be with him forever. The original sin is to think that we knew better and could make decisions without him. The decision of Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden is reversed by the decision of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The domination of humanity through killing is reversed by Jesus’ rising from the dead. Where all humanity tends toward death, perversion, destruction, and sin; the faithful in Jesus tend toward life, sanctity, renewal, and faithfulness. The Resurrection is the great reversal.
Where power is shown in the world by death, exertion of power, and killing, power for those who follow Jesus Christ is shown by new birth, love, and the renewal of second chances. It begins by the respect that God shows us. He did not come demanding we change, he invited us to change. He did not come with threats of power, but with an invitation to renewal. He did not come with leadership by chaos so that everyone is left feeling helpless. He came with a first step, a revealing that would guide the people as they were drawn toward him.
In the coming weeks, we are going to see the Risen Lord draw all those who abandoned him back to himself. A world leader wouldn’t do that. They would go out and find new people. They would reestablish a new base of power to overtake their former friends. The Father in heaven, by reversing death, shows us that the way is to offer renewal after every small death. By small death, I mean every sin we commit. There is always a chance to change. There is always a chance to be renewed and live a different life. The goal isn’t to elevate him and his power, but to renew us. His respect for us is immeasurable.
Like the baby born in the manger, the empty tomb whispers a great proclamation. Death has no holds on us. Disrespect has no hold on us. Abuse has no holds on us. Beatings have no hold on us. False arrests have no hold on us. Lying has no hold on us. Cheating has no hold on us. Betrayal has no hold on us. These are the things of the world. These are the ways of people who rely upon the things of the world and not the power of the living God. The power of the living God, of Jesus Christ, is shown that when all these things were thrown at him, he got up, folded up the grave clothes, rolled the stone away, and went out to gather his people to renew the world. Once again, I would say the fact that we are celebrating his resurrection in 2018 is testimony to his resilience, renewal, and power to overcome.
Even when we come to Church expecting a stone in front of tomb with a dead Lord, the Father in heaven respects us. He knows us. He knows our fragile ways. Jesus knows he cannot come at us all at once in his resurrected body, stand before us, and say, “Feel my hands and feet.” Just like in the Eucharist, he comes to us in ways we can understand. He comes to us simply, humbly, out of respect for us. He shows us he is not dead in an empty tomb. He announces to one person Jesus is risen. Then he appears to us throughout 40 days before he ascends into heaven. Then, after he has established the joy of knowing he is alive, he then sends us on a mission to renew the face of the earth.
What this means for us is that we do not embrace the symbols of power that the world embraces. A larger home, a bigger car, a larger bank account, a larger than life persona, a Twitter feed, a power base, people who carry our bags, the ability to tear someone down, the ability to fire someone, the ability to tell someone what to do; these are all signs of earthly power and are not what we are about.
We are called to form a community that renews. We are to be a people who shows those who get no respect total respect. We love those who are not loved. We clothe those without clothes. We visit those who have no visitors in prison. We give to the beggar on the street. We build bridges of peace. Most of all, we stop playing on the world’s playing field. We seek the higher, more worthy calling. We do not stay in the grave.
The Easter people are those who lay down their earthly life as it kills them. They lay it down and pick up a resurrected life filled with power that cannot be killed. It rises to greet the world with mercy and forgiveness which sucks the power out of domination and aggression. It is a power that respects the disrespectful, because that is what the Lord has done in the Resurrection of the Savior from the Dead. He offers this resurrected life to all of us in baptism and mission.
Which is, again, the ultimate sign of respect that the Lord of the Universe, when he wanted to renew the earth, he didn’t just wave his hand, he asked us to do it. He entrusted us with the mission. He invited instead of insisted. He invited instead of doing. He invited so that we would be respected.
The Lord is risen, friends. He is risen and invites us to invite others. The mission begins with our resurrection on this Day of the Resurrection. Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2018.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian