Easter 2020 sermon

‘Early in the morning, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and others came to the tomb while it was still dark’ and every year for over twenty years, I have risen at daybreak – not a natural act for me – and gone outside to a special place to commemorate those women’s silent bravery and the first hope of Easter. This year I am on hill overlooking my city.

Usually, I replay my 7 Sayings compositions for Good Friday and add my Easter Day piece, and then later join with other Christians. But of course, I can’t attend worship with others this year – and it seems incredible that churches have been told not to open on their most holy day, the fulcrum of our faith.

This year, more than ever, I felt the need to speak about the meaning of Easter, and this year it will be physically, visibly felt. We are still in the tomb, for most of us round the world can’t meet to celebrate this feast, but we can prepare for the bursting forth in subversive victory by planning for it in our collective cocoon, doing the inner work until the outer can physically manifest.

I’m proud that there are Particular Baptists and Priestesses listening to this, and I’m glad to have brought you together, for this is a common purpose that we need to work towards.

Whether we recognise the phrase, we are all Lightworkers, here to usher in a new kingdom.

God has especially intervened in his – or her – relationship with humans three times: when he first made us; when he sent Jesus; and…now. The New Age isn’t a ducky hippy fantasy – it is here. I believe there are three covenants that God made with us: one with a particular people, although I think God has always been broader than that; and then he opened to the door to the Gentiles in the new testament, so that inclusion was through belief in Jesus… and now I think God is saying: open the door.

Perhaps the Particulars will particularly flinch at the suggestion, or I think assertion, that there is but one God; and whatever we call Her, that we are using different dialling codes to the same exchange.

I have come to understand that God’s essence isn’t judgement and exclusion. His prime attribute isn’t holiness, or even power… it’s love, Love with a capital L. And today we don’t proclaim good news because you have to accept serious bad news first. It’s not – believe or else; feel guilty and let that dictate your acceptance of God’s gift with not just strings attached, but thick cords. That cannot be grace – or a healthy relationship.

Today, the temple curtain in our sadly empty churches is rent in two: God isn’t held in the Holy of Holies for priests – or priestesses – alone. She’s not even in buildings, beautiful as they often are, which can be shows of strength and privilege, and doors that can exclude as well as give sanctuary. God is out in the world, within our walls and yet beyond them.

And God is birthing, through us, not 5G – the next level of technological connectivity, which very much concerns me – but 5D, the 5th dimension. For me, higher D is about living in a consciously soulful place, seeing one’s story arc from an authorial point of view, more and more in tune with what SARK calls “your inner wise self”, or Spirit, and not what traditional Christians would call ‘worldly values.’ It is a greater focus on the unseen and immeasurable.

Events over the last year have started to push me out of the 3D world, the ‘lower energies’ as those card carriers of the woo woo community (like me) would say. I’ve discovered that even having a lifelong faith doesn’t mean you’re always living at a higher level, just as those who don’t consciously have a faith, especially not my faith, can walk a higher path.

I believe, with many others, that this is the time when our old structures will fall, to be replaced by ones which are rooted in different values.

I was asking myself what I would do if I was tasked with responding to the virus. And my first thought was: breathe, then pray. I don’t know how many world leaders did that, but it’s something we’re not encouraged to talk about. We’re also not expected to talk about feelings, especially not love, in politics or business or education or health. We disregard the nonquantitive, non empirical, the non corporeal. And I think this is where we have gone wrong.

I was first drawn to the Green Party – of which I now consider myself ‘a candid friend’ – because the first policy document of theirs I read 10 years ago hinted at spirituality, and it also began by asserting the equality and value of all living things.

We’re so used to systems where not everyone matters and not everyone wins. We are run by wanting money in one way or the other, by what we own and who owns us.

This time has brought up the issue of personal sovereignty versus the executive powers of the state – even to close the churches on this most holy holiday. Although it is largely voluntarily to stop the spread of the virus, I am mindful that there are times when churches have been closed on government orders purely because they were disapproved of. I am not advocating selfishness and lack of responsibility, but I vociferously believe in our own agency especially over our own bodies, homes, and the healthcare we choose, and our right to worship, our right to think for ourselves, and I do advocate doubting until personally satisfied.

I think it’s vital that we remain aware and that what emerges out of this cocoon time is not a new normal where we no longer meet in person, mingle in groups or crowds, that everything we do is electronic which can be traced, with even greater reliance on technologies that are harmful to our health; that we remain compliant out of fear, and even begin to fear each other.

I want there to be an openness to ancient ways as well as new, to diversity and divergence. I’m reminded of that film and book trilogy by Veronica Roth about a dystopian post traumatic city which is divided into factions, according to personal traits. The leaders are desperate to keep everyone in their factions, and despise and fear those who live outside the neat systems put in place by the city fathers. But – plot spoiler alert – our heroine, who is one of the dreaded Divergents who don’t fit, discovers that the city fathers designed this system so that society matured when it realised that Divergents were the key, not the enemy.

Those who didn’t fit the system didn’t threaten it, they completed it.

I think this is a lesson our world needs, for it is in the throes of hoiking out our divergents for fear of the new world that they especially might midwife. But we need to celebrate those we formerly thought of as aberrations, not fix and suppress them.

In traditional Easter theology, this is a time for overcoming the Enemy, and this year, more than ever, it’s a time to remember that our God has overcome death, fear, illness, and evil.

In Tom Robbins’ novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, he says that the enemy is not all the ‘others’ – other nations and ethnicities, the other sex, the other class, the other sexualities, the other faiths, and whatever else we may divide ourselves into and want to blame and set ourselves against. He says ‘the enemy is the tyranny of the dull mind’.

Philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote of ‘the banality of evil’ – that the ultimate darkness is not often charismatic or potent, but simply dull conformity. For her, it was the inability to think which made the execution of evil possible. And I would argue, to feel…. Outrage at injustice, but also love, a love that can’t allow injustice but that can still love those who do it, and have so much love that it pulls perpetrators out of their actions into wholeness, out of our own dullness into awareness.

I began by mentioning Mary Magdalene – and I’m almost done. Mary has become more and more important to me over the years, especially when I began embracing the Priestess path along side the Christian one. Elayne Kalila Doughty calls the priestess path ‘the vow to walk as love’. I have taken that, and realise I can live that without a dog collar or a torque.

I’ve learned, or am learning, that the telos of love is to love without needing a response; that love can take many forms, and at this time of ascension, that we are especially called to expand our expressions of love beyond the factions laid out for us by old paradigms – for perhaps those who laid them out also had the notion that the ultimate maturity was when we learned to live beyond them. Much of our love, like our law, is possessive, exclusive, right and wrong, win and lose; it requires permission, it has territories, it’s proprietary.

I believe that today we celebrate the rising of the One who burst all that. I think his relationship with Mary Magdalene was one that defied categories. Jesus isn’t to me just the Christ Conscious one; for me, he is God, who rose in physical form, and what he embodied and taught is something we can share in, as Mary did – for she best understood him and preached his message. I see her as a special messenger, perhaps being to the Trinity what the RAC claimed to be to the emergency services. (Yes I did just say that the Trinity is a 4 leaf clover).

I’ve been watching Xena: Warrior Princess. I see myself as Warrior Priestess. Xena and her companion Gabrielle – whose love also defies categorisation – commit to following the Way of love and light, overcoming darkness in the world and themselves. They knowingly go to their crucifixon, followed by an incredible act of love and forgiveness, transformation and resurrection – just as we remember at Easter. I’m more convinced than ever that death is not the end and that and Love goes on, not just for Jesus, but all of us.

The Easter sermon that I best remember is from Durham Cathedral in 2005: that when Mary asked Jesus if he was the gardener, she was kind of right. Jesus is making a new creation and asking us to be part of landscaping, planting, weeding, watering and hoeing… for soon we shall be picking. I know I’ve barely quoted the Bible – and I enjoy biblical exposition – but I’m seeing that we’re called now to a faith beyond just the Book, beyond the words we call God. So as we awaken this Easter Day 2020, let us awaken in all senses, and have clear vision, and courage to love, to be the change in the world we seek, and with Jesus and Mary, be bringers of a new age.

Listen at https://yourlisten.com/BetweenTheStools/easter-2020-with-music and https://artradio.tv/elspeth-rushbrook (yes this site is safe but a warning comes up if you click this link direct from WordPress)

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