April 25, 2011

“The stone is rolled back, not papier-mâché,
not a stone in a story…” —John Updike

Declaring something has a little air to it, a little flare to it, which is why we should refrain from declaring any random and self indulgent thing.

Declaring must be tethered to something big, although it may start out small.

It can start as small as a seed, as microscopic as a chromosome, the cilia of a flea, the photo-plankton of the deep, some tangent of a dream in which we pass through a series of infinitesimal doors and when we awake that little memory will be on our lips and we can declare what we’ve seen, what we’ve heard amid the squawking of the birds.

Except declaring, as I’ve said, must merge with something big, a universal belonging that’s yours, your own and that which you will never privately possess, a belonging that’s hers and his and theirs and in between all the ridiculous places we’ve met and that, as soon as we try to seize it and to take control of it, we wonder why the bitter traces of belonging sting us like a nest of hornets in our hands.

And here’s where the business or the art or the wondrous play of declaring really clears a person’s throat. Death. In the face of death we’re baffled and stymied and imagine ourselves drifting through the stratosphere whereas secretly we wanted it to work. We wanted what we saw and heard and smelled and touched and tasted of life to hum, to hit a stride and to run into the sun cresting over a green hill. We wanted life to work and were sad when it seemed to malfunction. And then we settled for death—death with its markers in stone, in wood, in steel, death with its obituaries stuck between the pages of an old book. We settled for death with not much to declare.

Yet, as I am read by what I read in the writings of Mark 16, our urge to declare delves deep into the fleeting layers of time—deep into what’s yours and what’s mine—and sinks anxious roots in the primordial possibility. What if it’s one person’s experience over two thousand years ago to ground all experience? What if what we know of life’s joy is the seed that made Mary pregnant? What if what we know of life’s pain has become the stuff only his chromosomes can handle? What if what we know of love and peace and justice—all the random encounters we have with goodness—what if they are the dots that only he connects? And what if he connects them through us?

These questions, you see, lead directly here and to the opportunities that we have to declare. Don’t say them too quickly without thinking about the repercussions or the consequences for your behavior or for your mission in life. But once you’ve had the chance to breathe and to reflect upon the breathless Christ Jesus, breathing again, my hope is that we will declare what we declare in this very air, as the sun rises.

Scott Kinder-Pyle, Latah Valley Presbyterian Church
Easter, April 24, 2011


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