Catch the Wave – Br. Mark Brown
Is. 49-1-7/Ps. 71:1-14/1 Cor. 1:18-31/John 12:20-36
As Holy Week gets underway we have the sensation that something large, something very large, has been set in motion. And that there’s no stopping it. Even though we know how it all turns out—sort of—there’s a sense of both largeness and inevitability. So there’s nothing to do but to go with it. Nothing to do but to allow ourselves to be swept up in this enormous wave–again.
How large is the largeness of Holy Week? We just heard in this passage from John that when he is lifted up he will draw all people to himself. “All people” is pretty large. But a variation in some of the ancient texts suggests something even larger. When I am lifted up I will draw all things, everything, the whole shebang, to myself. An exponential leap from all people to all things, the whole creation, the whole cosmos. What happens in Holy Week and Easter gathers up the entire cosmos in its energies.
We may remember the end of the Gospel of Mark where after his resurrection Jesus tells the disciples to “proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”. Not just to every human being, but to the whole creation. We may recall Romans 8 where Paul says that “the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now”, and that creation itself will be “set free from the bondage of decay”. And that the creation itself will “obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”
It’s hard to know exactly what Paul had in mind, but his understanding of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is cosmic in scope. Something that pertains to the whole cosmos is happening in the death and resurrection of Christ: animal, vegetable and mineral; earth, air, fire and water. From the depths of inner worlds to the furthest reaches of outer space. “Behold, I am making all things new”—not just all people, but all things, he says. Whether we quite comprehend this or not, the scope is breathtaking.
Yet the high drama, the cosmic drama of this week is experienced in very intimate things. A son and a father share an agonized conversation in a garden. Friends share supper for the last time. A foot is washed, then another. Clothing is removed to shame a victim. Flesh is pierced—the piercing of flesh is a terribly intimate thing. A mother anguishes as she awaits the last breath of a first born son. All terribly intimate moments.
Yet, all the while as these very intimate things take place, the cosmos, the planets and solar systems and galaxies swirl on their way. Its always like this, of course. Galaxies swirl even as we have our own agonized conversations, even as we share suppers for the last time, even as our own flesh, our own souls are pierced. And its all of a piece.
When he was lifted up he drew all people, all things to himself. All things, from the most distant fires of the cosmos to the most intimate embers of the soul. A fundamental unity, the very ground of our being, has drawn it all to himself. Having accomplished that, now your agony in the garden is my agony in the garden; and our agony in the garden is his agony in the garden. Now that which pierces you pierces me; and that which pierces us pierces him. Now your resurrection is mine and mine is yours and his new life is ours.
But its best not to jump ahead. For the moment, better to be swept up in this great wave and let him take us where he will.
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I start my day with these readings. I give them some time and then I read them again. They are just right to help me remember that God is with me in all.
Very thought provoking and humbling. Thank you.
At last, a Resurrection story that touches me.
I can feel the excitement in being that miniscule part of this whole being! Thank you for your words and reminders, especially on this “Earth Day” – another tiny miniscule part of that whole!
Today’s late note I find one of the most significant.
Lately, we have been studying the sacraments and grace. It seems worth considering that Resurrection is, if not a sacrament in and of itself, but importantly a part of most of our sacraments in the Episcopal tradition.
Reconciliation of a penitent, eg. As I repent, I Am blessed with resurrection of my soul, my self, to a new rooted ness in Christ.
Annointing: the same idea. How do we anoint with holy oil, without seeding the resurrection we know to follow.
Baptism, it’s obvious. Freed to serve through a resurrected life
And so forth. I would just like to hear this embraced more often,or discussed. We are risen, not as Christ, but as Christ’s.
This moved me so much. Watching Cosmos on TV I am so struck by the vastness of God. We are in Him and he in us. He is a Macrocosm and a Microcosm such as little blue eggs in a nest. God is in our
DNA and in gravity and everywhere. Science and
Religion are not at war. They are all part of God.
Inspiring! Thank you and Easter joy!
A most poetic and meaning-filled Holy Week message…perhaps the the best I’ve read/heard. Thank-you Brother Mark. I am sharing this with others.
Thank you for all the thoughtful messages during the season of Lent. I have looked forward to receiving them each day, and will continue to reread them for a guide to daily meditation.
Br. Mark, this sermon is beautiful. Your ecological, mystical, comprehensive vision speaks to my heart.