Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"In the Meantime"

This was preached at the Palm Sunday service, March 16, 2008

The reading of the Passion was long today, as it always is, so I’ll keep my reflections short.

There is a space between suffering and hope. It is like the momentary pause between the exhalation and inhalation of our cycle of breath – that moment where all is quiet, and if we wish it, we can touch death as well as life. Mostly, we don’t wish it, and that is okay.

There is a space between suffering and hope. It is like the space between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the emptiness of that Saturday, when Jesus the insurrectionist Rabbi has been executed, but the eternal Christ has not yet risen in any hart, or any mind. Rather, those hearts are left bleeding, and those minds are numbed into silence.

There is a space between suffering and hope in all of our lives, because everywhere there is suffering – from time to time in our own personal lives, and surely quite often in our larger communities. There is suffering, and there is hope – whether it is an eternal hope for a dying loved one, or a very present here-and-now hope for the correction of systemic injustice. But there is a space between the suffering of yesterday and right now, and the hope of something different for the long string of tomorrows yet to come. That space, I like to think of it as… “In The Meantime.”

So yesterday was suffering and tomorrow there will be hope, but meanwhile there is still the pain of knowing the situation hasn’t changed one iota. And what we do with that pain – well, that depends on the day. On the bad days, we pretend it doesn’t exist. We distract ourselves with the 1,001 other things we could be doing, and we pretend it doesn’t exist – it has come at an inconvenient time, anyway. And on the good days, the best we can do is simply acknowledge it, live with it, and know that we’re in the same boat with so many others.

It’s true, the good days feel more painful than the bad days in this scenario, and that seems backwards at first glance, but in these inherently painful moments, in these difficult situations if we’re not feeling pain, we’re doing something wrong.

And that’s not a message we’ll hear from ad agencies, or from Hollywood, or even Washington. It is a message we’ll hear from the Gospel, if we dare to listen.

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