As we move from one season to another (seasons of the earth and seasons of the church) we can look back, gather our thoughts and memories and then look forward with clearer eyes We don’t have to split the past from the present or the future. We can integrate and celebrate what we have learned and try to make sense of this rapidly changing world. (We have an opportunity to take stock of our experiences of the past year today at 11:30 using the coffee hour link)
On this 2nd Sunday of Easter, the readings bring forth a couple of themes that resonate with my experience this past year.
The first is the a deeper understanding of the themes of scarcity and abundance. Psalm 133 is full of symbolism which describes a people of abundance: the choicest oils, a city green and vibrant, and a people living in unity. From our Canticle today we hear of a holy people, freed from their oppressors, and speaking with tongues of new-born Easter people. Luke tells us, in the Acts of the Apostles, that there is plenty enough of everything if everything is distributed fairly. Anna Woofenden has written a lovely book about establishing a “Garden Church” in southern California. The book is called “This is God’s Table: Finding Church beyond the walls. Anna says that a feeling of scarcity is what separates us. That the worry that there might not be enough can actually tear us apart in community. Luke says that to be of one heart and soul (or to be united in the Beloved Community), we must reorient our lives towards justice and generosity, and away from scarcity.
Early in the Pandemic we saw what it means to have a mentality of scarcity, and I sometimes felt overwhelmed by it myself. We saw what happens when we view life as an 8” pie. If one person takes a big piece, that leaves less for everyone else. A scarcity mentality sees limitations in all things. A mindset of abundance sees a pie amazingly, infinitely huge, sort of like how I imagine the size of God!
In our James and Andrew Good News Garden Group, we learned from native American culture about “The Honorable Harvest” This is a covenant of sorts, a promise of reciprocity between humans and the land, a way of living that ensure everlasting abundance. Here are the ideas in this covenant:
When I’m feeling a bit of ministry burn-out, and my glass feels half empty, wise counselors remind me to reach out and tap into the abundance of resources that are out there in the world. This year I found a group of Faith Community Nurses from Northern California. They have become important “virtual colleagues” and their creativity and support has given me energy when I needed it most. I recently reached out to friends who are passionate about food justice issues and they have connected me to several groups of folks who have organized distribution of surplus fruit and vegetables in the Town of Montague. Seems there is an abundance of ministry partners as well.
So, how can we develop a spirit of abundance? Can we try to focus on what we have, to hang out with folks whose glass is half full, not half-empty, to believe in both/and not either/or, and to develop daily gratitude practices, to take a few moments each day to thank God for this abundant life.
The 2nd theme that speaks to me comes from John’s Gospel about faith. I will no longer refer to Thomas as doubting Thomas. Instead, he will be Honest Thomas. Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus made his post-resurrection appearance to them, and apparently the disciples did not do a good job of convincing Thomas. I’m a pretty scientifically minded person (although I do have a firm belief in things that cannot be proven!). Nurses, you see, like to see, hear, touch and even (sorry) smell the evidence before making a nursing diagnosis. Like Thomas, “Show me” is our mantra also. We measure, compare, and evaluate endlessly. I love that Jesus doesn’t chastise Thomas. He understands that belief is difficult, and he gives Thomas the proof he needs. I believe Jesus is telling all of us whose faith has wavered from time to time…. “remain steadfast, you will come to believe.” Keep looking, keep searching. One Forward Day by Day writer said that doubt is not the opposite of faith, it is the companion of faith.
I find myself thinking back to the spirit of abundance again. I think that Jesus is telling Honest Thomas, that he is enough, just as he is, in his unbelief and his belief. That he and we are wonderfully made, and we are made new in abundance at Easter. Consider your own abundant life this Easter season.
In the world that God hopes for, there is enough, and we- are -enough.
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