(John Lewis, bottom right)
By the Rev. Barbara Mraz
“He’s the only person I’ve ever heard preach after the reading of Christ’s Passion (on Good Friday) who had himself been beaten by the authorities in his own day. “
Like Jesus, beaten and bloodied, his skull cracked on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday. And yet he said this in the sermon: “Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet…. And if we do more than think, then our actions clear the path for even more light.” (Facebook post from Scott Walker, Episcopal priest)
Blood and guts, beatings during a protest about voting rights or about police brutality, these are the visceral, visible and concrete examples of the cost of standing up for justice. They are familiar images for us today.
Sunday’s Gospel is pretty direct, too, telling tells us that we have to search for “the kingdom of God” but this doesn’t have to be done only in a thick book or in the silence of a chapel. The poet and theologian Christian Wimans advances this troubling idea: “To seek God along the purely intellectual path is to suffer the kind of dust that accumulates on academic philosophy textbooks in a university library basement.”
Instead he says that God is better known when we perceive God “in the crying child, the nail driven cleanly into the wood, in the early dawn sun that merely to see clearly is sufficient prayer and praise.”
At the end of her life, the esteemed, highly-accessible poet Mary Oliver said that of all the things she knew for sure about this life, the most important was to pay attention.
Sunday’s readings tell us how.
See you in in virtual church.