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Sunday, April 07, 2024

The week after: scars and futility in the bigger arc

Easter + 7 days, Easter + 2000 years. Here we are, in the reality that "death swallowed up in victory" as a poetic phrase and a bedrock truth still remains a state only visible by faith.

Rainy Resurrection 

In that first week, there was no ascending the temple spire, no fireworks incinerating the occupying forces, no sudden tip of power form the self-serving Sanhedrin to the lame and the blind.  Jesus showed up in dim early morning light of garden around the tomb, on a road out of town, at a meal, behind closed doors where confused followers cowered, cooking over a beach campfire. He didn't ride into Jerusalem on a donkey to choral triumph. He focused on his core followers as witnesses of a new phase of history, a new sort of scarred life, forming the idea of waiting, of being sent into the world as he had been with the same power of the Spririt, to  . . . . 

To what? Not to enforce the law, not to quash wrongdoers, not to control destinies, not to set up a state. In Acts, his people asked, is this the time that you restore the Kingdom to Israel? No, he said. But go live and speak and teach and gather in a way that ushers in a whole new metric. Challenge the status quo of history as people who give attention and priority to the suffering, who share what they have, who do not ultimately fear the venom of snakes or of power.

For centuries, the word passed, person to person, miracle to miracle, mostly amongst the most disenfranchised. (Then there were centuries where well-meaning people thought it made more sense to get the power of the state behind the church, and that struggle and debate continues today). But lest we delude ourselves that Jesus' resurrection means that everything should now go exactly as WE think it should, that prayer guarantees the outcomes we long for . . . we had a more authentic post-Easter week here in Bundi.

The son of a local politician died of alcohol intoxication, a young man close to us was actually trying to help him and ended up blamed, arrested, in jail, and extorted for bribes. Another close young man fell asleep at the wheel and wrecked his car. Two of our "foster grandchildren" have been quite sick, one hospitalised the whole week. Another close friend of the team's nephew died after being born with congenital anomalies. An Area kid had a serious injury that will require surgery. Others plod on with  chronic mental health challenges. Unusual rain patterns and a bizarre lack of materials has held up the gravity-flow water project progress. Three of the in-country partners of three different teams have all made changes in the last week or so that call those partnerships into question. And here at CSB our school teams went to regionals and struggled, and kids sent home for school fees not yet paid trickled back so slowly that many missed days of school. And that is just the last seven days, on and on, day after day where resurrection power is far from obvious.

What grounds our hope on a week like this one, or like the first post-Easter week?

First, knowing that the scars have closed enough to allow us to walk out of the grave, but they are not gone. Everything is not OK, yet. The direction of entropy was reversed to order, but the timing, as our CSB teacher reminded us today from the story of the man lame for 38 years by the pool of Bethesda, is not immediate. We are the walking wounded, still.

Second, the day of small things is not to be despised. If Jesus cooked fish and had patient conversations, perhaps it shouldn't surprise us that the routines of living life in community and wholeness are our primary task. We spent the week counselling the anxious, answering questions, sitting at a funeral, driving people here and there, feeding people, asking, listening, praying, reading. The disciples spent a whole night in futile fishing. This is the "so send I you" trajectory. Mostly, just trying to be faithful and present, honest and hopeful.

And lastly, locating our fragments of the story into the bigger arc of redemption. Sometimes we get to see clear evidence, like the jailed young man then being thanked by those he thought were blaming him that he didn't let the errant drinker die in a ditch, his risky insistence cost him but served love. Mostly, we have to take it on faith that the hard questions asked, the small assistance given, are seeds that might not bear fruit for days or decades. But one day, they will. For the world to eat and live.

Praying Jireh is discharged tomorrow.

Some of the small things that can bring large good: cocoa harvested from our yard, allowing a young blind man and his wife to finish a house project.

More evidence of good: CSB students now in University showing up with solidarity at a funeral.

Communal grief

The psalm 1 hope that the small seeds will grow and thrive and bear fruit in Bunidubygo, East and Central Africa, the world.