The truth is that the Lenten Journey comes naturally to me. The Lenten journey leads me to face what I already know is true. But the Easter Plot Twist is news. It is the good news which catches me off guard. It is the surprise which we cannot just innately know without hearing it proclaimed and lived. 1 John writes that it is a truth to be seen, heard, and touched. It is a truth to be revealed (not just known intuitively).
We march in the lillies and wear our Sunday best, but even the most extravagant of our “Allelulias” seem to be not enough after eight weeks leading to the cross. So I begin this year a new personal practice of an Easter Season. If Lent was a time for accepting the reckoning, then Easter is a time for expecting resurrection.
“So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love somebody who does not deserve it.
Denounce the governemnt and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all that you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest…
~ Wendell Berry, “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”
For these eight weeks before Pentecost, I am going to take my time exploring the plot twists of Easter. I will write each week’s theme word on my wrist to call my mind back to the news that is changing everything. I will look for actions to take that do not compute. I will remember, as our choir sang on Sunday, “The Lord of all things lives anew and all his saints are rising, too: May our living be thanksgiving: Alleluia!” (K. Lee Scott).
Week 1: Surprise Relief
Let the good news sink in: the story does not end the way that we are convinced it will.
Week 2: Joy
Realize that joy-filled satisfaction comes not from already-realized perfection but from eyes that expect alternative endings and hearts that trust the true Author.
Week 3: Peace
Dwell in a freedom dependent not on present circumstance but on a transcendent reality.
Week 4: Courage
Step forward as a bold participant in God’s rewriting of what might yet be.
Week 5: Forgiveness
Trust God’s forgiveness for myself. Lavishly offer forgiveness to others, even (and especially) when it is hard.
Week 6: Compassion and Kindness
Lean into complicated situations with tenderness and grit, aware that the good news does not need me to solve but does call me to love.
Week 7: Patience
Wait in active expectation, working not to earn the good news but to have open hands ready to receive it and an open mouth ready to proclaim it.
Week 8: Gratitude
Reject private ownership as a thing of the past. Practice communal stewardship as if all things are a gift for all people.