Greetings, friends -
I hope this post finds you well! Life has been full in Pelican Rapids lately - I'm busy working on my final evaluation for internship, preaching, as well as the regular weekly goings-on in our parish. We're having our last confirmation evening this Wednesday, where we'll wrap up the year with a discussion about what the students enjoyed, what could be changed, etc. A group of 15 parishioners got together this past Sunday to bake bread for our local food shelf, and we had some great conversation about the church and society - what can the older generations do to be more inclusive of our youth, what can we do that impresses the importance of faith to them - some really great questions were raised.
What follows is my sermon manuscript from this past Sunday, the 10th - the text was Acts 3:1-10 where Peter and John encounter and heal a man crippled from birth and welcome him into the temple. I encouraged parishioners to notice resurrection life in their everyday lives - asking them what God is up to.
Sisters and brothers in Christ, grace to you and peace from God our Creator and God’s Son Jesus the Christ. Amen.
It was a surreal experience. For most of 2012, I had spent the year living in a remote mountain community – not privy, by and large, to what was happening “on the outside”, or in the real world. Going down the mountains and on the boat and into a town with stop signs and stoplights as I waited to get on the train for a three day’s trip home was disconcerting and unfamiliar. I remember getting off the train in Minneapolis, meeting my parents and going home to Cannon Falls – the first time I had been home in over 9 months. It was February. My grandfather was having heart surgery that day, a bypass and stints, and so I wasn’t home more than a few hours before we continued on to Mayo Clinic in Rochester. My dad, brothers, grandmother, and I were able to be there as he came out of surgery, and after months of living with shortness of breath and other complications, we had hopes that this would do the trick.
I was home for a month, and during that month it was hard to watch my grandpa – knocked out from surgery and not at all himself. I took the train west where I went back into the mountains to cook and bake, and continued to receive updates on him from my family and other loved ones as the months sailed on – slowly but surely, he was getting better. It was, in a few words, resurrection brought into reality, into the tangible, into the here and now.
We find ourselves facing the same narrative in our New Testament text for today – a story from the early church where a man crippled from birth is given new life in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The disciples have been tasked with doing what Jesus embodied while on earth – showing resurrection life in its various forms and declaring God’s intentions of salvation for the world. In doing so, the man is commanded to stand and walk as he enters the temple with Peter and John. This is an interesting switch in our story, and I believe an important implication in our life together. As the crippled man experiences one dynamic of the resurrection, the individual experience becomes communal. The man is invited from a solitary life to come into the temple leaping and jumping and praising God. A man on the margins has been brought into the center. Isolation has been turned into ecstatic joy.
This invites us even deeper into the question of “What does resurrection life look like?”, especially now that we have celebrated Easter. As we celebrate Christ’s risen life and the implications that has for our world, how do you find the promises of new life and resurrection being lived out in your own life? Where do you see things being made new? Where do you notice yourselves and others being welcomed into life-giving community? In resurrection, where do you find healing and hope?
What the crippled man experienced is only one form of resurrection. We also experience new life when we renew or rekindle relationships, when we become more fully ourselves, when we feed the hungry and clothe the naked and stand in solidarity with those who the world deems to be other. We experience God’s resurrection life in a myriad of ways every day, and it is important to note that not everyone’s identification of God’s work in their lives will be the same. One thing, however, is constant – that where we see God working in our lives is a sure sign of God’s hope and promise of what is to come. The good that we see in our lives, in whatever form that takes, reminds us that the kingdom of God is here but is also yet to be. We see partially now, we get glimpses. We see people healed, made joyful, and renewed, but we also experience death, loss, and grief. My grandpa experienced resurrection life in one way, and I would love to know what your stories are, in the totality of hope or despair, wherever God is meeting you now. Friends, go forth this day knowing that the promises of resurrection are for every single one of us – may we go forth beyond the Gate and into the temple, filled with wonder and amazement and awe. Thanks be to God. Amen.
Intern Pastor Dean