We Practice Resurrection by Visiting Places of Death
[Over the last two years, there have been a number of police-involved shootings in our neighborhood, as well as other violent deaths. We’ve joined with a few other churches to do prayer walks through our neighborhood. Debbie Gish helped realize what we are doing with this little talk, which challenges us to practice resurrection by facing into death.]
April 15, 2016
Practicing resurrection. I learned this phrase from Fr. Richard. Practicing resurrection. We are in Eastertide and Easter is the celebration of death being overcome, of death not having the final word. Jesus lived in time not unlike our own, a time of repression, oppression, corrupt legal systems. Movements for change rose up but were quelled quickly and violently. Capital punishment was the unquestioned norm. Into this world, Jesus was born, lived, worked, taught, healed, spoke truth to power and hope to the hopeless. And he paid dearly for it. But he was not a victim. With great intention and a vision for a new way of being human, he unmasked both the powers that be and the myth of redemptive violence. His third way of self-giving love unleashed the power of heaven to transform death into life, despair into hope, enemy into brother and sister.
Last Easter we at Sojourners asked ourselves, how can we practice resurrection? It’s hard to live in hope when the reality on the ground shouts otherwise. One ironic answer given to that question was that we practice resurrection by visiting the places of death. An odd but profound paradox, but we believe that where there is pain, where there is brokenness, where there is a cry for justice and peace and healing, there God dwells. It was out of death that Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, rose up.
So I invite us all, in this Eastertide, to practice resurrection tonight and in prayerful hope visit some of those places of death and pray together that the God of resurrection would bring peace, bring justice, bring hope, bring life up from the grave.
[rock back and forth]
My mother-in-law gave my girls a children’s book called “Praying with our Feet” which talks about how marching and keeping vigil are ways to pray with our feet, to pray for and walk for peace and justice. Tonight I invite you to pray with your feet. I’d like to take a moment of silence and have all of us consider a simple prayer of the heart that can move with the cadence of your feet, that will be your prayer of your feet this evening. Something simple like “Come, Lord.” “Bring peace,” “How long?”
Before we depart, let’s share with each other (those who would like to) the prayer of your feet this evening and let that be the prayer that sends us out.