United with the moment by moment story of Holy Week, today an empty tomb and a Jesus transformed turns we dazed disciples to dancing delighters. Jesus is raised! Abba has raised him! Some have seen, others believed, many have witnessed – and we rejoice! Hearts just broken are invited to soar!
“You changed my mourning into dancing!” (Ps. 30:12)
In the midst of the Easter Vigil last evening, a few verses (of so many) particularly caught me. In Exodus 14, Moses instructs the complaining freed and fearful Israelites, who are thinking it might have been better for them to be slaves in Egypt: “Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the vistory the Lord will win for you today. These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The Lord himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”
So many places in scripture remind us that it is God who acts. Our job is to know ourselves as little, dependant, blessed, cared for, provided for, precious, called, chosen – and to not get in the way. Remain. Be still. Keep still. Watch. Wait. Be Awake. In the midst of the holy night we have just commemorated, the mystery shows Jesus in wait. It is Abba who comes to the tomb. It is God who raised Jesus from the dead. God’s name is faithfulness, presence, life, love, hope.
Therese of Lisieux comes to mind here. She knew herself as little, and that littleness was great, as it highlighted the greatness of God who cared for her. It made her a child who ran to the arms of Jesus whenever she needed to be lifted, calling his arms her elevator, as she had no way to climb any height of perfection. Her perfection was in trust and leaning, depending and hoping, and in knowing it was God’s desire that would make her whole and holy. “All is grace.”
Yesterday we noted the women who remained by the tomb, feeling what they felt, being near the One they loved. Loss has stilled them. And Jesus, with all human life poured out, had been carried and closed in that tomb, more than stilled. Past the point of waiting, in death the utter emptiness of the house of his body cries out: Where has he gone? Where are you hiding? And the one Jesus named Abba answers first with ripped curtain and thunder clap – and then with rolled stone and empty burial cloths. He is NOT here! He has been raised! He goes before you! Do not look for him among the dead. Go! He will come to you!
Jesus ever goes before us. His living and dying and rising are his own – and they are ours. United with him, we disciples live too these mysteries. And we remember that dancing is the proper response to what God does in our lives. Leaping and spinning are in order (see last year’s Easter blog post at https://inspirited.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/leap-and-spin/ or Northumbria Community’s reading for Easter). Emotionally the change is a quick one, and we sputter and breathe to catch up. All the pain of Friday (Jesus’ and ours – and all the world’s and creation’s) is more than real, but the real-est real, the truest true, the surest sure is the glory of this day, the amazement of God’s action and life, the eternal of the Creator of the Universe’s specific invitation to union with the Trinity in love and forever.
All chains break. All tears shared, held precious, and resolved in laughter. All ruptures healed. All limping mended. All lacks filled. All thirst quenched. All hunger satisfied. All darkness enlightened. All longing filled. And because this is all provided by a lavish God whose very identity is an extravagant insanely committed love, the abundance is WAY over the top. (Like 5 loaves and 2 fish making TONS of leftovers!). And we can collaborate with it! That is our mission and call! Alleluia!
Can we touch this amazement today? Perhaps we can be reassured by Moses’ words. “These Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again.” Whatever makes us each fear re-capture by what hounds us, and tempts us to despair and to settle for a known enslavement – this we are rescued from. Depend on the God who acts in raising Jesus, who whirls and dances with and over our coming to him with his Beloved son. And dance your way to serve and tend and care for – his sheep, the earth, the poor, your family, the annoying, the hurting, the old, the young.
“Fear not…be not discouraged! The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love. He will sing joyfully because of you as one sings at festivals… At that time I will bring you home… when I bring about your restoration beofre your very eyes, says the Lord.” (Zephaniah 3: 16b-20 excerpts)
God brings about our restoration, our rescue, our redemption. We may not even know what that means. And that’s alright. Regardless, we can learn to lean and remain and be still. We can put on our dancing shoes and kick up some joy! We can pray to depend when we’re dazed, to trust when we feel tried, and to look for the evidence of the loving gathering raising action of the Creator of all. And we can tend to one another in this confidence.
Happy Easter one and all! And may the season bless you with new ways to be, a new joy, and a closeness and peace in the presence of the Risen Jesus. Measuring the mystery is useless. Dancing the delight as disciples – this can lighten our hearts and be witness of a something more we still are learning about. Blessed Easter journeyings.