April 23, 2017: Even the Desert is Raised to Life!

Posted on : Apr 20th, 2017 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

A number of years ago, a friend of mine who was serving as a Deacon at St. Brendan Catholic Church in Hancock Park, invited me to a Lenten worship service.  For the Lenten Season, St. Brendan’s had taken everything out of the front of the church with the exception of the lectern, the pulpit and the altar and created a massive desert right in the very front of the church.  I don’t know how many tons of sand they had trucked in for this visual depiction, but the entire front of the church was filled with sand.  There were a few barren trees that looked like they had been burned in a forest fire and, while still standing, they looked dead.  Very dead.

This visual was present for every Mass during Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday through Good Friday.  The church looked desolate, cold, forlorn and lifeless.  It was a stunning visual depiction of Lent.

On the evening before Easter the altar guild and the youth brought in hundreds of flowers and planted them in the sand.  As worshippers entered into the Sanctuary on Easter morning, they saw, in the words of Isaiah the prophet: “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom.”

This visual transformation was stunning.  After 6 weeks of barrenness and desolation to see the entire desert blossoming forth was awesome.  It literally sent chills through your body.  Where there once was bareness there now was life – an abundance of life!

Until last year, when the impact of the drought started to affect our way of life, we had done a pretty good job of deceiving ourselves, pretending that we don’t actually live in a desert.  The kind of desert we were used to living in had lots of green grass, beautiful flowers and green trees.  It wasn’t until our lawns turned into patches of brown dead grass that it became clear that we really do live in a desert.  Blooming flowers were few and far between – as was green grass

But then the rains came this winter, and suddenly, our desert burst forth with new life!  There are gorgeous wild flowers everywhere.  The colors are spectacular and the desert is alive in ways it has not been in years!  So many are trying to see this spectacular event that police and city officials have had to warn people to be sure they have a full tank of gas before entering the desert areas because the traffic congestion is so heavy, it is taking 3-4 hours to travel 50 miles – and there are no gas stations in the desert.  Just beautiful, beautiful flowers!

What I find so amazing is to know that all the seeds that brought forth this desert super bloom of wild flowers had been buried in the desert sand for years, and I never saw them.  I never even knew they were there.  I thought the sand was just sand.

That led me to start thinking about what seeds are buried in each of us that we don’t see, but that we hope will break forth into blossom in our lives.  Is there a desert super bloom waiting to be brought forth in our lives?  Do we just need a little or maybe a lot of water, love and nurture to blossom forth?  Is the Risen Christ calling us to break forth from our dormancy into the splendor of new life?  We’ll see on Sunday.

Easter Blessings to You and those you love,

Dan

 

~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

Isaiah 35: 1-10

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,

    the desert shall rejoice and blossom;

like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,

    and rejoice with joy and singing.

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,

    the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.

They shall see the glory of God,

    the majesty of our God.

 

Strengthen the weak hands,

    and make firm the feeble knees.

Say to those who are of a fearful heart,

    “Be strong, do not fear!

Here is your God.

    God will come and save you.”

 

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;

then the lame shall leap like a deer,

    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.

For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,

    and streams in the desert;

the burning sand shall become a pool,

    and the thirsty ground springs of water;

the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp

    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

 

A highway shall be there,

    and it shall be called the Holy Way;

the unclean shall not travel on it

    but it shall be for God’s people;

    no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.

 

No lion shall be there,

    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;

they shall not be found there,

    but the redeemed shall walk there.

 

And the ransomed of our God shall return,

    and come [home] with singing;

everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;

    they shall obtain joy and gladness,

    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

 

1 Corinthians 3:6-9

From The Message, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible.

Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.

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