Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Easter Threshold of Holy Newness!

Image by Douglas Lawrence
3rd Sunday of Easter

In her recent book, “Open the Door, A Journey to the True Self,” author Joyce Rupp reflects on the power and gift of thresholds in the visible and invisible realities of our lives.  She writes: “Thresholds grant passage between two different external spaces.  Thresholds are doorsills or entrances to a house or building; it is any place or point of entering or beginning.  . . .

A threshold contains the power of transformation. In this place of uncertainty and decision-making we are forced to slow down and take stock of what’s happening. Threshold experiences contain tremendous energy.  They hold the power to unglue and shake us deeply and they can set an imprisoned spirit free, and bring peace to a desolate mind.”

As a metaphor, a threshold is that unique and significant component of our spiritual journey. It is that invisible space within us that marks the division between who we are now and who we will become.

In the past few weeks, we have walked with Jesus and the disciples from threshold to threshold as we have reflected on the Resurrection accounts of the Gospels in which the writers have endeavored to tell the story of this glorious mystery.  These accounts were not only what they remembered, but how these events affected them and how they reacted to what had happened.
We have heard the story of Mary of Magdala waiting and weeping at an empty tomb.  It is in her turning that she encounters Jesus and crosses over an inner threshold in which she views him through the lens of fear and believes him to be the gardener.

We have heard the story of the two disciples passing over the threshold from Jerusalem to Emmaus.  They were carrying within themselves desolate spirits and visionless eyes unable to recognize the stranger walking with them to be Jesus. As they conversed with him, he is chided as being the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in the recent days.

We have heard the story of the frightened disciples who crossed over the threshold of the upper room with closed hearts, locked minds and anxious spirits.  It is within this space that Jesus appears to them with greetings of peace, and yet they think him to be a ghost.

The power of the threshold resonates in the resurrection  event and through all the appearance stories that surround Jesus.  He passes from cross to tomb and from death to new life; he shatters all boundaries and moves through closed hearts, locked minds and anxious spirits back then and even now.   It is in the intimate and early moments of an Easter dawn that Mary hears Jesus whisper her name and then upon being known, she names him Teacher.

It is in the quieting of the early evening the two disciples invite Jesus to stay with them and in the breaking of the bread Jesus passes over from being stranger to friend leaving them with a blessing and hearts blazing!

Jesus waits for them on the seashore.  He calls to them to throw their nets to the other side of their boat - casting aside their shame, fear and old ways of being and doing.  It is here in this early morning mist that Jesus invites them to breakfast on love and friendship - and in so doing, they name him, Lord.
Jesus shows up in the upper room to those behind locked doors companioned by their post-traumatic stress and dread.   He greets them with peace, shows them his wounds and breathes on them to receive the Spirit.  He liberates them from everything that holds them hostage, and disturbs them into discipleship and sends them on a mission to believe in him no matter what.

Jesus challenged his disciples to receive this new Easter Alleluia Peace and to come to their own inner rising above and beyond fear and doubt – passing over a threshold to a new freedom and faith, courage and compassion, justice and joy, passion and peace. 

As Easter People, we, too, are challenged in our resurrection belief to declare that true resurrection faith does not arise from seeing and believing in an empty tomb, but from meeting God in the Scriptures, in the breaking open of the Word, and sharing the bread.  And in our everyday lives with eyes open to surprise, with hearts receptive to the unexpected, and with minds willing to surrender to mystery.

In the resurrection, we are assured that there are no doors that are eternally closed.  Every time we close a door or one is closed on us, God opens another for us to cross over to a new threshold – one that assures us that God never gives us up on us.

We are Easter People whom God continues to disturb into discipleship to take up the mission where Jesus left off.  It is the Mission of loving and serving one another, resisting evil and doing good, showing mercy and compassion, justice and forgiveness.

So what is the Good News for us today?

“The resurrection stories reveal the always-present tension between coming and leaving, intimacy and distance, holding and letting go, at-homeness and mission, presence and absence.  We face these tensions every day.” (Henry Nouwen)  Let us pray for God’s gift of transformation which awaits us at every threshold of our lives.

Let us pray for the courage to cross over this Easter threshold of Holy Newness for it contains tremendous energy and has the power to unglue and shake us deeply.

Finally, let us pray for openness to lovingly welcome the daily invitations to come to our own inner rising and to live as Easter People because Jesus has risen.  Alleluia, Alleluia!!

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