The sunrise on Mt. Cadillac was superb. I was surprised and delighted by how many other people were already well positioned on the summit by the time we arrived with ten more minutes to spare. Such a sky. Reds and purples and pinks and blues merging and moving across the east, each new combination a sign of what was to come. Like so many things in this life, the build-up here is lengthy, but the moment itself is painfully brief. Suddenly, all the rich overarching colors fade to grey, and your attention is pulled from the general to the particular. A bright, yellow disk slices the horizon and quickly launches for apogee, sometime later. It commands your attention, and when I was finally convinced to take my retinas off of the show for jsut a moment, I scanned the faces all around me only to discover that each one was illuminated a pinkish-yellow—a particular, rich light that no flash or bulb can manufacture. Full faces, in awe ... and quiet, too.
I continue to believe that the resurrection, even more than the cross, is the entryway into the news of the Christ event. Such a sunrise as Cadillac afforded us is an essential event by which to imagine both his astonishing, commanding new life, and ours with him. Without the dawn of a new first day, there is no light or life by which to reconsider the finality of the hard night now gone. It is not a matter of greater metaphysical importance, as if systematically the resurrection outweighs or outperforms the cross. Rather, it is a priority of narrative. Ours is a storied gospel, therefore a storied reflection: in the essential sequence of announcement then hindsight. The raising up of the Son of God is the entryway, the homeletical portal, into every other saving feature in this most unusual covenant story. As it is on the mountain, so it is when the news is announced: the world is split open, ubiquitous general gives way to scandalous particularity, and every face turned in that direction is awash in illumination.
August 3, 2006
I enjoy worshipping in other churches. "Enjoy." Hardly enough of a word. Nevertheless, I like sitting in the same pew with my beloved. And I am grateful for whatever milestone of my sanctification that has more recently allowed me to detach a bit from the role of critical, “expert” observer in someone else’s church service. For a long time, being a preacher in a strange pew meant feeling more like a restaurant critic suspiciously sampling dishes thank like a hungry-feeder wanting to be fed. But this summer I am laying low. There is too much emptiness in me not to sit back and worship the living God, not to see the terrible cross and hope for some Easter newness, and along the way to appreciate the terrible and wonderful humanity of those robed strangers in front of me who are leading me through another liturgy. As such, I appreciate the gift of worshipping in other churches. I like singing hymns with Elizabeth’s voice in my ear. I like discovering what is fascinatingly different in other traditions, as well as what appears ubiquitous among us all. I am depressed by the rampant informality; blessed by the occasional illumination. I deem a good thing for me as a preacher to feel a little lost sometimes, not knowing which hymnal I should have open or when to stand or where to look. I think it is good too, that my mind wanders during most sermons, as I should learn appreciate the fact that most minds probably wander during my own. Mostly, I am just offering up many small prayers of gratitude these days: for my strange life, my wonderful bride, and my lovely daughter. That seems just enough just now, and perhaps the best lesson for a sabbath time as this.