Reflections by Jerry Webber

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Psalm for the Cycle of Death (Good Friday) and Transformed Life (Resurrection Sunday)

Last week on Good Friday, the day of Jesus' Crucifixion, I found Psalm 137 appointed for prayer in one of my prayer books. It is a difficult psalm to pray under ordinary circumstances. It is bold and violent, audacious in its fist-waving at the "enemies" . . . and even a bit toward God.

I tried to stay with it for as long as I could, and found myself praying the psalm in light of the Death - Resurrection rhythm that seems to be inscribed upon all things. We live . . . something within us dies . . . some form of new life emerges where we thought there was only death. And the patterns continues. It seems to never end. Every day is full of small deaths, ways great and small of letting go of that which has died. It seems to me that we live much of our lives in a kind of "Holy Saturday" time, between the deaths of "Good Friday" and the transformed life of "Resurrection Sunday."

So using Psalm 137, this is what I ended up praying about that in-between time. Perhaps as you read these words, you would also open Psalm 137 from the Hebrew Psalter . . . so that you are praying not about the Babylonians, but about the death of your own dreams, ideas, or postures toward life.

Psalm 137 Psalm-Prayer
for Good Friday 2013

The dream has died
a long death
and I sit empty, angry, despairing
grieving the loss
alone, looking for a next step
remembering the way I thought it would be
remembering the plan that never came to pass

I’ve laid aside the instruments
with which I planned the party
the celebration when You did
(what I wanted You to do)
what never came to be

The death of the dream taunted me
mocked my sadness
shamed my inability to sing “happy songs.”

What can I sing when the dream has died?
All I have are laments
the song of a place
I do not want to be

Yet, this is my truth
This is who I am
where I am

The dream has died a Friday death
and now I wait
a long Saturday
for life
the liminal space
that is my own transformation

And for this in-between time
(I pray)
to be here,
and now,
not forgetting You
as I wait
stay open
for the next thing

I’m tempted, here,
to curse those
through whom the dream was dashed
to strike out at those
through whom this death came
in my anger and disgust

Yet Your Project is beyond
and somehow includes this death
though I cannot see it now

Somehow this death of my dream
is woven into Your life for the world

I cannot see it now
and I cannot yet rejoice
But I will stand in faithfulness
I will wait
with all the openness I can muster

And I pray for the eyes to see
when this death
becomes life.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Experience of Resurrection

Easter, the Day, came and went a couple of days ago.

Easter, the Resurrection Experience, goes on.

As Sunday approached and I thought about the different worship expressions that would happen around Christendom on Easter, I was struck that in many ways, the Church has made the act of Resurrection something to believe in or something to be happy about.

I became aware that for me, the Resurrection is not something to believe in as a doctrine or as something that would form the basis of a creedal statement. Resurrection invites my awareness of the new life that God is birthing in all times and in every place, including within me . . . and it invites my participation in this new life of God’s birthing.

Awareness and participation are different kinds of belief. They are lived experiences, lived beliefs. They are beliefs that get worked into the fabric of our living. They are not agreements to doctrinal positions or proud assertions of what is and is not true. Awareness and participation invite us into life-as-it-is.

And life-as-it-is includes death and resurrection. This is the order of the world God created. Death (Good Friday) is the threshold to new life (Resurrection Sunday). All my daily dyings, great and small, lead to life. I am not invited to believe that . . . in the same way that I’m not invited to believe that gravity is holding me in my chair at this moment. I am invited, though, to live into it, or to live with it. I am to live into this reality of Resurrection.

Notice the Resurrection in Jesus, . . . but also notice Resurrection in the world around you . . . and then, notice it in yourself. Become aware of it.

Then participate in it. Participate in Resurrection as if it were written into the DNA of the universe, as if all things were moving not toward death, but toward Resurrection life.

Easter, the Day, came and went a couple of days ago.

Easter, the Resurrection Experience, goes on.