Easter Sunday: It Starts In The Dark

candle-in-the-darkness
I didn’t feel like hearing anything this weekend.

Especially my own voice. It wasn’t for lack of trying…to do the podcast. I’ve written down some thoughts that I’ll likely vocalize after Easter but I spiraled down into a bit of darkness these last fast days and decided to stay there. Sometimes thin places do that to me, and Holy Week this year was especially one.

But, Barbara Brown Taylor affirmed me. “If it happened in a cave, it happened in complete silence, in absolute darkness, with the smell of damp stone and dug earth in the air. Sitting deep in the heart of Organ Cave, I let this sink in: new life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark.” (From Learning to Walk in the Darkness)

The birds chasing each other around our yard amidst crocuses and tulips feel like a bit of an affront to me this Easter. A little too pretty and too happy, and too awake. Perhaps I’m not ready to move on from the darkness quite yet. Tweet: Tulips feel like an affront to me this Easter. Perhaps I'm not ready to move on from the darkness. http://ctt.ec/t3vRr+ @miheekimkort And being in the darkness doesn’t necessarily mean I’m asleep, in some ways, it means dealing with being too awake.

I read Micah’s words this morning as the soft hues of pink and orange hit the window next to the couch. I’m chugging coffee trying to shake the sleep out of my eyes. Death out of my head. And somehow these words ring truer for me this morning. This is resurrection.

Silence, and tears crowding tired eyes. Confusion hanging heavy on grief-soaked hearts. Disillusionment colliding with hope. And a long, long walk home.

This is Easter for me.

“We had hoped…”

These sad words catch in my throat and hang with a heaviness of their own. Tears spill as I admit the crushing disappointment that weighs on my shoulders.

We had hoped. That this would be the beginning of something beautiful. That our enslaved hearts would find freedom. That we would be redeemed.

But Jesus has disappeared, and I’m left clutching impossible rumors.

And so this season of Lent, and even this Holy Week I’m clutching all these words, these feelings, these lessons: “I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.” (BBT)

This is Easter for me today. Once again, not triumphalism or victory but the reminder that we still need that mandate as Sara Miles preached this Good Friday:

…If we are to remember his death and enter his life, we must take up in a new way the familiar human cross of being a son, a mother, a friend. We must turn to and claim each other––neighbors, strangers, enemies–– and refuse to be separated. Alex Nieto’s mother is my mother, and Darren Wilson is my son. Because nobody is outside this family, for whom Jesus was willing to be betrayed into the hands of sinners, and suffer death upon the cross.

He has given us to one another. Let us love one another as he has loved us.

This is the empty tomb. In the face of all the horrific injustices and inequities, and the seemingly constant stream of devastation of humanity, not only in far away places, but right here in our own backyards, it’s that even though the curtain is torn in two and the Holiest of Holies is now for all we’re not done. I need only to invoke the names of Leelah Alcorn. Jessie Hernandez. Renisha McBride. Purvi Patel. Like those women at the tomb these women’s lives and especially their deaths and imprisonments and unlawful convictions proclaim we are not finished. The story is not finished and our work isn’t complete. And I cling to that…barely though…by my fingernails holding on for dear life.

He died and rose again so that we might live, mobilize, question, wrestle, advocate (thank you J. Herbert Nelson), and love in the same way. Tweet: He died and rose again so we might live, wrestle, advocate (thank you @JHerbertNelson), and love. http://ctt.ec/he1a_+ @miheekimkort

May it be so.

Nadia, Pastrix, and Women’s History Month

Nadia, Pastrix, and Women’s History Month

trailblaze-001This weekend came and went so fast. It seems like only last week I was sitting in the best Indian buffet in town with the Lutherans for lunch. There’s something just so … unifying about samosas but anyways I love the Lutherans – Jeff and Colleen. Jeff has been around for 8 years and Colleen has been here for a year but it might as well be 8, too. I felt an immediate connection – they were saying things that I had been thinking for the last year, and affirming what I was feeling about faith and church and local community.

Why are there so many churches and campus groups and still such a small demographic who claim to be Christians?
Why is there really only one expression of Christianity here?
Why does it seem like the mainline churches aren’t a big draw to young people?
Why aren’t we gathering as a larger community on a regular basis?
What kind of witness could we bring to Bloomington?

We talked some more and realized that there was an opportunity to get funding for an ecumenical project. Free money is good. Always good. So, long story short, after many cups of coffee (drunk mostly by me) at the local coffee shop, emails, miscommunications, texts, Facebook messages, and this past weekend we had Nadia Bolz-Weber come out and speak on a Friday night at First Presbyterian with the Open Door providing worship, the Pourhouse providing fellowship space, and Rachel Pederson (associate at First Presbyterian) providing Taize worship (with me pretending to be a musician by playing the piano), Andy, Charlie (the local Episcopal rector), Kate (PhD student in Religious Studies), and Nadia providing some meaty discussion on public church. It was a FULL. WEEKEND. And we bagged up 100 ziplocks full of foods for the Backpack Buddies program.

Whew.

It was kind of a whirlwind and I was so focused on last minute details, and making sure some pieces fell into place, but the little snippets of grace that I heard from people … made it worth it.

And Nadia … I’ll be honest. She didn’t swear as much I expected – maybe I was thinking something along the lines of the movie The Departed for some reason. I don’t know why – maybe the tattoos and muscles. But, what came out the most was a genuine compassion. I could see that she was tired – and yes, I would be after such a horrible day of travel with delays, etc. – and yet, she still mustered up presence – flesh, blood, tears, and heart – and it was a gift. She says she’s a liturgical nerd and didn’t call her talk a sermon … and all the perfect comedic timing, and images of a church in the streets and among the people … there’s no denying, it preached. She preached and proclaimed the saving death of the risen Lord until his promised return. It was words of hope. It was sacramental. She is a minister and preacher through and through.

Her latest book uses the word Pastrix (pastriks) noun:

1) A term of insult used by unimaginative sections of the church to define female pastors.
2) Female ecclesiastical superhero: Trinity from The Matrix in a clerical collar. “What on earth was that noise?” “A pastrix just dropkicked a demon into the seventh circle of hell!”
3) Cranky, beautiful faith of a Sinner and Saint. – newwineskinsdictionary.com

And, I think, it’s lovely and fortunate that the weekend before Women’s History Month I’m reminded by Nadia’s faithfulness to being God’s beloved and bravely answering God’s call – of all the women who in their own ways suffered for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s lives. Clergywomen haven’t been around for terribly long, and definitely even less so in my denomination. I don’t take that for granted – all the bush-wacking and hacking through the underbrush, setting fire to the trail, laying down markers, so that I would have some space to set my feet. I’m grateful. So so so grateful.

“I realized that I had been called to proclaim the Gospel from the place where I am
and proclaim where I am from the Gospel.”