Monthly Archives: April 2013

It’s still beautiful

Local Hero

The film Local Hero is the story of a Texas oilman sent to Scotland to buy a fishing village so his company can put up a refinery. As the villagers dream about becoming millionaires, the oilman begins to fall in love with the peace and quiet.

The oilman’s Scottish partner, Danny, is also falling in love. Marina is a mysterious figure, a lovely marine biologist with an enigmatic manner.

After the ceilidh celebrating the conclusion of the deal, Danny and Marina are out on the beach looking at the Northern Lights.

Danny: Holy mackerel! What’s happening?
Marina: That’s just the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis. High-energy protons spilling over into our atmosphere. They get through the magnetic shield where it’s weak, at the poles.
Danny: It’s still beautiful, I don’t care what you call it. How often does this happen?
Marina: Any old time, although it’s best when the sun’s active. That gets the solar wind up and that’s where the protons come from.
Danny: You say the darnedest things, Marina.

We have another Danny in today’s Daily Office readings, and he’s the one saying to God, “You say the darnedest things.”

I heard but could not understand, so I said, “My lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are to remain secret and sealed until the time of the end. Many shall be purified, cleansed, and refined, but the wicked shall continue to act wickedly. None of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand.” (Daniel 12:8-10)

From our Easter perspective we know the meaning behind the signs. As Julian of Norwich says of Christ, “Know it well; love was his meaning.”

It’s easy to get tangled up and confused in speculations about dates and times and the mechanics of how God acts in history. It’s easy to lose sight of the meaning — God’s love for us, reaching down and remembering us “in our low estate” (Psalm 136:23).

As our first Danny says, “It’s still beautiful, I don’t care what you call it.”

Can these bones live?

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The Old Testament reading for Morning Prayer today comes from the book of Ezekiel, the “dry bones” story that we heard just a few nights ago during the Great Vigil of Easter.

Ezekiel is led in a vision to a valley full of bones, and God tells him to prophesy to the bones. Bones come together, sinews knit them up, flesh covers them, but there is no breath in them.

God commands again, and breath enters the bodies, “and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude” (Ezekiel 37:10).

God ends by saying “And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, The Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord” (37:14).

I couldn’t help thinking of the skeleton warriors from the movie Jason and the Argonauts, created so memorably by Ray Harryhausen in early stop-motion animation.

However, these fighting skeletons are not the living people of Ezekiel’s vision. We call it the “dry bones” story, but it’s really the “reborn people” story. That’s why it’s part of our Easter Vigil readings each year.

It seems to me that too many of us get stuck halfway — we are dried up, but we can at least move and fight and defend ourselves, and we are terrible to each other.

However, we are called to more, much more. Through the gift of God’s Spirit, we can live as reborn people, not just as dry bones.

Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy Spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of this life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 100)

Walk this way

Though the Lord may give you the bread of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:20-21)

Acolytes

At the Great Vigil of Easter this year, one of our youngest acolytes graduated from boat-bearer to crucifer.

The Great Vigil, as I’m sure you know, is one of the most complicated services of the Church Year. Everything’s backwards!

The crucifer doesn’t go first; the deacon does. The torches don’t follow the crucifer; they follow the Paschal Candle. The altar party doesn’t sit up in the sanctuary; they sit in the front pews.

However, she wasn’t nervous at all. Our acolyte master was right behind her during the entire service, giving her gentle guidance about where to go next and reassuring her that she was doing a great job.

She came and found me in the sacristy on Easter morning, excited to ask when she could serve as crucifer again. “And next time, could I do it mostly by myself? But, you know, with someone to remind me in case I need it?”

“This is the way,” says our Teacher Jesus, the Risen Christ. “Walk in it.”