For some inexplicable reason, my CRPS in my left foot has exploded right now.
It seemed to improve for a day or so – and then just went off the rails completely – as in, back in my smartchair for anything that requires any real walking or standing, off the rails.
This is NOT GREAT.
However, before it exploded, I was about halfway through with a post about the sermon I had I promised to share more on – Nadia Bolz-Weber’s sermon at Rachel Held Evan’s funeral – because it IS one of the best I have EVER heard. And honestly? I think that now, in the midst of this pain crisis, I really need to rework and finish it.
While It Was Still Dark
So, when Nadia preached Rachel’s funeral, I knew she would do well by her dear friend, of course, but I was not expecting this amazing sermon, entitled While It Was Still Dark. In the midst of her own overwhelming grief, Nadia had written a few days before the service that she wasn’t sure how she was going to get a sermon together at all. She just felt broken.
But God made something so beautiful. ❤
If you want to explore for yourself, the link to Rachel’s funeral is here and Nadia’s sermon starts at around the 50 minute mark:
While the entire sermon is so good, I want to share some excerpts that really resonated with me:
Because there are those who would reduce the Christian faith to moralism and delusional positivity – we know that the God we worship is not a shiny toothed motivational speaker churning out cheerful memes in times of suffering. Because the God we worship is a crucified and risen God. Which is to say, we worship a God that is not unfamiliar with darkness. . .
Luke’s gospel tells us that Jesus had freed Mary Magdalene from demons and evil spirits. Which is why, while it was still dark, when Mary Magdalene stood weeping outside his tomb, she looked in, saw angels and was asked, Woman why are you weeping, I wonder if maybe she was crying because to Jesus she wasn’t “that crazy lady” like she was to everyone else. To him, she was just Mary. And when Jesus said her name, Mary – it felt like a complete sentence. And now she wondered who would ever see her as whole, who would ever call her by her real name.
I think she was crying because having felt divine love in the presence of Jesus, she knew she couldn’t go back to living without it. . .
As you may know, Rachel loved Mary Magdalene, as many of us do, Mary Mag, the apostle to the apostles, the first witness to the resurrection, the woman of valor whom Jesus told to go and tell the boys.
I started to wonder this week, “Why was Mary Magdalene chosen for this role. . .”
I think Mary was chosen because she was a woman from whom demons had fled. I think Mary was chosen because she knew what it was like for God to move, not when the lilies are already out in church and the lights are on – but while it is still dark. Because unlike when the men looked in and saw only laundry, when Mary Magdalene looked in the tomb, SHE saw angels. . .
I do not know why this is God’s economy. That it is while we are still in despair. That it is while we are still grieving, while we are still sinners, while we are still sure that nothing good will ever come. That it is when are faced with the nothingness of death – that we are closest to resurrection.
That it is while it is still dark that God does God’s most wondrous work.
I do not know why that is.
Only when there is nothing else left we can possibly do – only when we have exhausted every possible good deed, every confession of perfect faith, every pious notion, every woke tweet, only then do we finally spread our trophies at his wounded feet and turn at the sound of our name as if it is a complete sentence and respond saying, “Rabboni! My teacher and my God. . .”
This is not the end of the story (as Rachel said). A story Rachel was willing to risk being wrong about. . . A story about about how this much indiscriminate mercy didn’t sound right to us. And this much mixing of people who shouldn’t mix didn’t sound right to us. And this much grace didn’t sound right to us and so we had to try and destroy the story Jesus was telling about who we were and who God is and we hung him on a tree just outside of town. And how there he took all of it – all our broken junk, all our sin and shame and need to blame others, and all our precious verification processes and our self-righteous garbage, and he took it all into his broken body and from the wooden throne, the king and kings proclaimed his judgement: “Forgive them father, they know not what they are doing.” Forgive them, they don’t yet know the real story.
And how three days later, while it was still dark, death was already being defeated. And Mary stood weeping.
And this story still isn’t over. And we know is not the end, because we are still being caught up into it. Mary Magdalene’s life, Rachel’s life, your lives – we are all fodder for God’s really, really long memoir of how God loves humans. . .
And while it may still be dark, the light is breaking through. And the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it. Amen. ❤
(Again, please take a few minutes to listen to the whole sermon. You’ll be glad you did.)
Seeing Laundry or Seeing Angels
For me, the timing of having revisited this couldn’t have been any better.
As I said, my CRPS is flared – and I don’t have adequate words for how painful it can be.
Still, yesterday, I was able to load up with Sara and Henry and hop in my smartchair and celebrate our Arthur wedding party at church with our First Church family and our community – and it was wonderful. ❤
After that, we headed off to the lake for a lovely quick (indoor) visit with our family to celebrate Father’s Day and Pop’s Birthday.
And, then, this morning, my Al picked me up and we went back to church, where I officially joined our First Church fam – ❤ – and Al and I had a fabulous lunch together.
Since then, it has been a restful afternoon and evening at home with my lil’ fam jam, despite the unruly CRPS.
I am hopeful that, with a restful week, this flare will break – but, even if it doesn’t, I am reminded again by Nadia’s sermon, to keep seeing all of the angels, all of the good, good things, even when my body goes completely wonky, even when it’s dark.
I am so grateful that I have so many to see. ❤
Be well, everybody.
Grace and Blessings.