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May 2019 Shavings Letter

Hello Wildwood,

It seems it was only a few days ago we were proclaiming the Easter message, “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!”. As I was preparing my Easter message, I came across a poem by the American poet and novelist John Updike titled Seven Stanzas on Easter. The poem wrestles with the attempts some have made in the modern world to dismiss the resurrection of Christ as something less than an actual historical, physical event. Updike puts it well in the first stanza when he notes, “The Church will fall”, if it didn’t really happen. Like the Apostle Paul we recognize that the heart of Christianity is found in Christ and more specifically in his resurrection. Consider this: Jesus dies as the vast majority of his disciples have abandoned him. The resurrection is that event which brings them back together, galvanizes them, and reinvigorates them for the life of persecution that they will lead in the wake of the scandal. For the Christian, the resurrection is the ballgame; it’s everything. It changes everything. Because He is Risen we have full confidence that death is not the last word. Instead, in Christ, the one who conquered death, we have a certain hope of resurrection beyond death. God gets the last word and that word is life; life abundant now and eternally with Christ. He is risen, He is risen indeed!

Seven Stanzas on Easter

Make no mistake: if he rose at all It was as His body; If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit, The amino acids rekindle, The Church will fall.
It was not as the flowers, Each soft spring recurrent; It was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the Eleven apostles; It was as His flesh; ours.
The same hinged thumbs and toes The same valved heart That—pierced—died, withered, paused, and then regathered Out of enduring Might New strength to enclose.
Let us not mock God with metaphor, Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence, Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded Credulity of earlier ages: Let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache, Not a stone in a story, But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of Time will eclipse for each of us The wide light of day.
And if we have an angel at the tomb, Make it a real angel, Weighty with Max Planck’s quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in The dawn light, robed in real linen Spun on a definite loom.
Let us not seek to make it less monstrous, For our own convenience, our own sense of beauty, Lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed By the miracle, And crushed by remonstrance.
John Updike

Blessings, Pastor Erik

Life On Loan – Wildwood This Fall

Here we are at the end of September!  The weather is cooling down reminding us the crisp, cool days of Fall are upon us.  The leaves are just beginning to change color and miracle of miracles the Cubs are preparing for the postseason!  What a great time of year this is.  As we enjoy the change of seasons we are also in the midst of a sermon series at Wildwood PC – Life on Loan!  Here is a refresher to remind us what it is all about.

“A life on loan- like every loan- is given with the expectation of a return.  We are to return more than we are given.  One day we will be held accountable for how we spent or invested our lives.”  So begins their book, Living a Life On Loan, written by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson.  They continue, “Life begins with- and is accountable to- God.  Though we often speak of life and all it comprises as gifts from God, they are unique ‘gifts’ in that, technically, they still belong to him.  It begins when we think of our life as ‘on loan’ rather than as a life ‘you own.’

We began our series two weeks ago passing out puzzle pieces.  Each one of us is a piece of God’s redemptive work in the world.  Our piece is integral to the overall puzzle, our story, our lives matter.  Hold on to that puzzle piece – we’ll bring them back in November and assemble the whole puzzle!

This past Sunday I challenged us all to the 4 x 1 challenge.  In short, we are invited to spend four hours a week choosing intentional Christian practices that shape and transform us into the people who experience “Abundant Life” as Jesus spoke of it in John 10:10.

1 Hour of Worship

1 Hour of Study/Devotion

1 Hour of Community/Fellowship

1 Hour of Service

It adds up to only 2.5% of our week and yet if we commit to these practices it will change who we are for the best!  What will you choose to do with your time?

I look forward to hearing how the 4 x 1 challenge impacts our lives in the days to come!

Blessings

Pastor Erik

After the verdict…

When I was in ninth grade in the early 1970s, I lived in a medium-sized city in Indiana that was required by a judge to integrate the schools. The decision was made to close the downtown school where most of the black kids attended, and bus them out to several schools in the city and suburbs.

I was on the basketball team, and I would like to tell you that the sport brought us together in an inspiring way. It didn’t. What we had was a mostly uneasy situation, sometimes tense, occasionally with the beginning of something like friendship across racial lines. After growing up playing in the driveway with my white friends, dreaming of the days we would play high school hoops, I was now the only white starter. This was not going to be the schoolboy basketball career any of us had been waiting for.

One of the things I remember was leaving school after practice to walk the seven minutes it took me to get home. I would pass my black teammates who were waiting in the parking lot for one of their parents to make the forty minute round trip to the school to pick them up.

I was vaguely aware, but only vaguely, that something wasn’t right. Only later did I wonder why it was the black school that closed. Only later did I think about what it must have been like to be forced to attend a different school in which you were suddenly the minority. Only later did I think about how disappointing it must have been for my black teammates to have their boyhood team divided, just as ours had been. And only later did I think about how unfair it must have seemed to watch your white teammates walk home while you waited for somebody’s father to get off work and pick you up.

On Friday President Obama said a few things about the Trayvon Martin verdict. He did not question the jury but he did try to explain why what happened is of great concern to many African-Americans. It took me back to my 9th grade basketball team, and something I began learning in ninth grade and have to keep learning. About how important it is to step out of my own Converse All-Stars and try to think about what it’s like to live in someone else’s. About the black experience in our country being very different than my own.

In the New Testament, the apostle Peter tells us that people of faith are to be stewards of the grace of God. Think about that image, try it on for size, tie up the laces, and see how it fits. You are a steward of the grace of God. What makes us different as people of faith in divisive times? What sets us apart as followers of Jesus when people so often see things so differently? I hope it’s that we see ourselves as stewards of God’s grace. As people who are intentionally trying to spread that grace around our homes and our neighborhoods and our country. As people who pray, as St. Francis prayed, not so much to be understood, as to understand. From Abraham Lincoln to Nelson Mandela, the best among us are able to firmly work for the right as God gives us to see the right, while at the same time walking in the other guy’s shoes.

We’re called to be stewards of grace, Peter says. If the shoe fits, wear it.

Greg Bostrom