Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Means No Separation

This past Sunday was a wonderful day for us Advent-ers. More than 400 of our friends and neighbors joined in the Palm Sunday Procession as we began our “close approach” to the most sacred of mysteries in God’s love of us and all creation. When God raises Jesus from the dead there is a difference made that lasts throughout eternity. Paul writes
“For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38, 39, RSV.
“In all creation” is not just a spatial designation. Because the list includes "nor things present, nor things to come" Paul is talking about the reach of salvation extending throughout all TIME, too. The past is within the reach of God’s saving, Jesus-born embrace. The future as well. It’s ALL connected. NONE is separated.

So we as the human players in this drama, bound by time and space have to play our parts differently than that one who is eternal. Annually we repeat the steps, tell the story, join the narrative that is the ending of separation.

The Palm Sunday Procession is the best way I can imagine for us to start demonstrating the understanding that the story which is soon to unfold again for us is unfolding for “all creation.” All Presbyterians, all Baptists, all Methodists, etc, etc.

Granted, we are drawn into the story individually as well as corporately. Lent and Holy Week offer ample opportunity to confess our sins and admit our complicity with the darkness, “the powers and principalities.” We cannot say each other’s confessions but can at least kneel beside each other in those moments to act out the “un-separatedness” of God.

Like my hero Carlyle Marney said, “The name for who we are in relationship to God is not Presbyterian, Jehovah’s Witness, Baptist, etc, etc. The name, the noun for who we are in relationship to God is “human” and the pronoun is us!”

In the same ways that we confess individually but together and in so doing act out the particularity AND omnipresence of God we can join all creation specifically AND generally, denominationally AND universally, personally AND corporately.

There is no substitute for worship during Holy Week. Not because we are bean counters or worried about our numbers or are the only ones doing it the way we do it but because we are compelled to repeat and repeat and repeat the drama as a way to remember how to live in a world that has more divisions than unions, that prefers darkness to light, that confuses power for freedom.

In the days toward our Easter celebrations and then beyond let’s live with our friends and neighbors as if they too are not separated from the God whose love we crave. Let’s not confuse our differences with some sort of disqualification, or our denominations with the greater joining of us all within the reach of Christ’s saving embrace. The pronoun is “us.”

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