On Easter Sunday

Full readings here.

I Cor 5:6b

“Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?”

I’ve been really concerned with what to write on this day, the Day of Days. The occasion demands something optimistic, celebratory, forward-looking. This is the day to embrace life in its fullness, to share joy with your fellow beings, to throw open the wintry gates of your soul and let Spring come rushing in.

This is the day ol’ JC did what he said he would: he came back. To quote Monty Python, “And there was much rejoicing.”

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad.”

Today is also the first day which felt more like Summer than Winter, here. The days have been very pleasant recently, but the evenings have still had a chilly breeze. Tonight the evening stayed warm long after the sun descended, and New York literally popped with people. On Wednesday I leave for what promises to be an epic journey–from Vancouver, Canada all the way to Santa Cruz, CA–mostly on the coastal highway.

Yet I can’t get there. The euphoric, blissed-out state of joy eludes me and I feel stuck in pre-trip concerns, trying desperately to tie up a hundred loose ends here before I leave, hoping and praying I have enough money to make it all work.

Not to mention that I’ve had to spend inordinate amounts of time at the Unnamed Store where I’m employed because they released a new Unnamed Thing this weekend. So after spending weeks immersed in the hyperbolic hype surrounding this Unnamed Thing and the last two days seeing how that hype translates directly into dollars, I’m feeling rather disappointed in our collective ability to think straight or even for ourselves at all. (Is it coincidence the Unnamed Thing came out on Easter Weekend? Or just a subtle bit of associative marketing? Tell us, Steve!)

There was a time when I, too, wanted the Unnamed Thing but now I feel a surprising amount of enmity for it–if only because of the dazzling effect it has on people and my deep distrust of things which dazzle so completely.

The empty tomb, the burial cloths cast aside, the traveler who appears in Luke… these are JC’s dazzle moments. “It’s me, guys. It’s really me! And everything I told you was TRUE.” What a payoff! What an ending! What a great show!!

He asked them,
‘What are you discussing as you walk along?’
They stopped, looking downcast.”

Bullshit, I say. The dazzle isn’t the message. The message is the emptiness of our lives, the abject vacancy we feel and which makes us yearn to fill it. We desire the world, we want to devour it. We desire beauty, we want to destroy it. We desire another person, we want to possess them.

Such is the way the world wags, a sad old carnival of the same tired rides again and again. The same tired games. The same temporary distractions, the same fleeting joy and the same desperate longing to return.

I gave up TV for Lent, because I believe firmly in giving up things every once in a while. Walking the other direction, as the Buddhists say — a key principle of the eightfold path. Love something too much? Then you must give it up. Repulsed by something? Then you must move toward it. In these motions you will discover your real relationship to that thing/person/habit/etc. (I have only the passing-est understanding of real Buddhism — please feel free to jump in with corrections).

Anyway so I like this idea, the idea of simply moving the energy in the opposite direction for a while and seeing what it feels like. But during Lent this year I started smoking cigarettes! I’ve spent much of my free time lately with people ten years younger than myself, trying to impress them by acting younger than they are.

In short I’ve been a wreck.

Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast,
the yeast of malice and wickedness…”

When Paul writes that “a little yeast leavens all the dough,” I take it to mean that the smallest bad habit, negative thought, or undealt-with emotion can infect the whole system. That’s why, of all the readings for this week, I chose Paul’s advice to the Corinthians to head this post. Because I need to hear that message!

…but with the unleavened bread
of sincerity and truth.”

Thankfully the remedy is simple: Just toss the bad yeast out and celebrate with unleavened bread. But this is interesting–he doesn’t say “use good yeast,” he just says “don’t use yeast.” Get empty!

Too often I find myself waiting to talk these days, listening to people like I know everything and I’m just waiting to impart my wisdom. But how hard is it to listen without judging? How hard is it to get naïve without becoming immature?

With that their eyes were opened
and they recognized him, but
he vanished from their sight.

How can I commit to process without abandoning completion? How can I speak with confidence and not be preaching? How can I say anything when I’ve nothing to say? How can I ask questions and not know the answers? How can I be more awake to the world?

How can I write a sermon when I feel so uninspired?

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