March 31, 2013: EASTER DAY – 10:55 am

Posted on : Mar 28th, 2013 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

My sister-in-law sent me this great quote:

“Eternity is not something that begins after you are dead. It is going on all the time.”

– Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I had no idea who Charlotte Perkins Gilman was, but I love the quote. Turns out she was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, lecturer for social reform and a utopian feminist.  During a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women, she served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle.  And, she lived most of her adult life in Pasadena, CA!  She’s living proof of her own words:  “Eternity is not something that begins after you are dead. It is going on all the time.”

Link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Perkins_Gilman

Stop just a moment in your hectic life and think about this:  right this very moment you are living in eternity.  This very moment is one moment of eternity, as is the next.  And the next.  And the next.  Eternity isn’t something that begins at some future time, it is something that has no beginning or end.  We are living it right now.

This week as we celebrated the two historic landmark cases being heard before the Supreme Court of the United States (Prop 8 and DOMA) I had to pause for a moment to take in not only the significance of the event, but all that went into us “getting to that point.”  When Justice Alito said, “You know, same sex-marriage is a newer institution than cell phones or the Internet, and you’re telling us we have to nationalize it right now?” I said, “Whoa, boy – You got that wrong!  You need a history lesson!!!”  This struggle has consumed the last 40 years of my life.  And it went on thousands of years before that.  Just ask Oscar Wilde, or St. Serge (Sergio) and St. Bacchus.

St. Serge and St. Bacchus were the first male saints (yes, they were canonized!) for which we have documented “proof” showing that they were joined together in marriage by the Christian Church.  The marriage service was discovered in the Vatican archives by Dr. John Boswell, an historian at Yale University.   John Boswell presented his findings to an overflow crowd, right here in our sanctuary in the mid-1980’s.  He published his finding in his historic book, “Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century.”

Long title, I know.  But read the dates.  “From the beginning of the Christian Era [1 A.D.] to the 14th Century….”  And Justice Alito thinks the quest for same gender marriage “is a newer institution than cell phones or the Internet?”  Send that boy a copy of Boswell’s book!

“Eternity is not something that begins after you are dead. It is going on all the time.”  We are all living in eternity right at this moment.   There are so many who have gone before us who have paved the way for where we are today and even now, we are paving the way for those who will live after us.  Just like Jesus did!  And just like Jesus empowered us to do!

But why isn’t the story of St. Serge & St. Bacchus’ life more well-known?  Boswell revealed that once Christianity became the “official religion of the Roman Empire,” (thank you, Emperor Constantine, who cut that deal around 321 A.D.), the Christian Church became less and less tolerant of same gender relationships and tried to “cover up” St. Serge & St. Bacchus’ marriage by hiding the liturgy and calling it a blessing of friendship.  But, John Boswell found the actually liturgy “buried” in the Vatican archives and he discovered it was nearly identical to heterosexual marriage liturgies, including professed vows of life-long love and care for one another.

When I was a child and even into my teen years, I thought Resurrection was something that happened to us after we died.  I had no idea that resurrection was about “being raised up into the fullness of life beginning NOW!”  I had no idea that “the Church” didn’t always tell the truth about what Jesus really said.  I had no idea that my life and our life was part of God’s life unfolding “here and now.”

In the Easter story in the Gospel of John, when Mary Magdalene and Peter, and the Beloved Disciple arrive at the tomb there’s something there that I never really noticed before.  What’s not there is obvious.  What is there isn’t often “noticed.”  What is left behind are dirty linens and napkins.  But they’re not just linens and napkins.  In the ancient world they were called “death wraps.”  They were the cloth that was used to wrap the body before it was buried.  It’s the “death wraps” that are left behind.

When I think about the words, “Eternity is not something that begins after you are dead. It is going on all the time,” it becomes clear to me that in order for us to reach that understanding, we often have to leave behind the trappings which bind us and kill us and prevent us from entering into eternity, here and now.

As we celebrate the gift of resurrection, what are the death wraps that you need to leave behind so you can enter into God’s eternal life today?  We’ll share some of our own stories on Sunday!

Easter Blessings to You and those you love,

Dan

~ This Week’s Scripture ~

John 20: 1-18

The risen Christ appears to Mary Magdalene.

Now, on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.  So she ran, and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “they have taken the body of Jesus out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”  Peter then came out with the other disciple, and they went toward the tomb.  They both ran, but the other disciple outran Peter, reached the tomb first, and stooping to look in, saw the linen cloths lying there, but did not go in.  Then Simon Peter came, following after, and went into the tomb; Peter saw the linen cloths lying there, and the napkin, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but rolled up in a place by itself.  Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and saw and believed; for as yet they did not know the scripture, that Jesus must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet.  They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Jesus, and I do not know where they have laid him.”  Saying this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?”  Supposing Jesus to be the gardener, she answered, “Sir, if you have carried Jesus away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary.”  She turned and responded in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).  Jesus said to her, “Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to God; but go to my friends and say to them, I am ascending to God my Father and Mother and your Father and Mother, my God and your God.”  Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Sovereign!” and she told them that Jesus had said these things to her.

Leave a Reply