Wednesday, April 15, 2009

He is going ahead of you

5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’

Mark 16:1-7

I have good news! Which is desparately important right now, because honestly  this really hasn't been a good news semester. Acknowledging that there has been some pretty amazing opportunities to proclaim and hear good news this semster (e.g. working in Costa Rica, travelling to the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, planning and leading worship for Pride Week, and giving hip-gyrating thanks for the drag show), I've been feeling a growing sense of ennui, even despair. It's affecting my work, my grades, my relationships, as well as my sense of wellbeing. I've felt stuck, confined in a tomb, slowly fading out from depression. And last Sunday's reminder of the glory and promise of the resurrection of Christ and of all creation wasn't a magic fix. While moments of resurrection and new life still roll away the stone, exiting the tomb is a much harder process. 

In two of the three Easter sermons I heard last Sunday (yes, it was a triathlon of worship services), the preachers used Mark's text to comment that Christ is not in the tomb, but is ahead of us in the future. "He is going ahead of you to Galilee" is Mark's way of affirming the same the truth that Matthew later made famous: "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 17:20b). But there is a sense of urgency and motion in Mark: don't stay here, in the place of death, because Christ is alive and waiting in Galilee for us to meet him. I appreciate the kick in the butt-- that's the kind of good news that wakes me up and gives me something to hold onto, hope that isn't based on some kind of heaven but rather on doing the faithful work of Christ as God bring heaven down to earth.

So here's the really concrete good news: Today I received an email congratulating me on my acceptance to the Lutheran Volunteer Corps placement process! LVC is a national service program that works with social justice organizations by supplying them with on-year volunteers. Volunteers live simply and sustainably in community, and spend time working for peace with justice and reflecting on the intersections of ethics and spirituality and their work. They are marvelous people. For example, when I applied last month they asked me to write answers to questions such as: "What is the relationship between racism and social justice?"; "What actions will you take to build an atmosphere that is open, supportive, safe, and affirming specifically for people who are GLBT?"; and "Why does poverty exist in the United States?" I swear, I did a double take. This program could not be that awesome. Oh, but it was. And even though the application process was loooong and the phone interview an hour and a half, I had a lot of good energy around it. And now I have more.

It's simultaneously odd and comforting to feel certainty about what I will do over the next year and not about how the next month will proceed (even the next week...). I don't want to live in the future in a negative way that denies the potential of the present, of course, and I owe it to myself to do what I can to finish the semester healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Still, though, I feel as though someone has just assured me that I am not going to stay "stuck" forever, but will continue on eventually to wherever Christ has gone ahead and is doing the work of resurrection, inviting me to join.

P.S. Here's a really neat piece that Greg Carey, a New Testament professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary, posted on his excellent blog NT Geeks. I wouldn't be surprised if he wrote it himself, since he's pretty fantastic:
A hole, hewn from rock.
A hole in the heart of the world.
One empty.
The other bursting forth with life.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations Ben! That sounds really cool!
    Where do you go?