(Natural entrance to Carlsbad Caverns from the inside)
(Originally written for Speaking to the Soul, April 8, 2012)
Daily Office readings for Easter Day, April 8, 2012:
Psalms 148, 149, 150 (Morning)
Psalms 113, 114
or Psalm 118 (Evening)
or Isaiah 51:9-11
or Luke 24:13-35
or John 20:19-23
Look carefully our Gospel readings for Easter Day. Notice anything missing?
It's not an accident that even with three readings to choose from in the Daily Office today, that none of them directly proclaim the Resurrection. My understanding of that is because of the importance of Easter to our faith, the direct proclamation of the Resurrection is reserved for the Eucharist on this day. The Epistle is also omitted from the readings so that both Morning and Evening Prayer will proclaim the Gospel.
Admittedly, that little uppity layperson voice in me, says, "That's not fair."
Don't get me wrong. I think all three readings are great readings that indirectly proclaim the Resurrection. I admit, though at first, reserving the direct proclamation of the Resurrection for a Eucharistic service only smelled a tad like clericalism to me. However, the more I thought of it, the more I got to thinking about the deeper meaning of what might be behind it--something more than elevating the solemnity of it via ecclesiastical hierarchical means.
The truth is, in 2012, none of us were an eyewitness to the event itself. Not even Jesus' contemporaries witnessed it directly. No one saw Jesus sit up, unwrap himself from his burial clothes, and wander out. They witnessed the outcome--the empty tomb, the confusion, and, yes, the resurrected Jesus. It puts all of us in the rather odd position of believing in something that we can't even make sense of, something that defies all what we observe by experience, and what we know about the rational, factual, biological, and physical world. Yet, if we look, we can see evidence of the Resurrection all around us.
The closest way I can understand Resurrection is through a story about my childhood dog, Peetee. Peetee was a stocky 20 lb. rat terrier/God only knows what else mutt that was bought for me before I was born and was my companion until I was 13 years old. One of his quirks was that he would never--NEVER--play with a ball. He did plenty of "rat terrier" things--he chased little furry critters, dug for moles, and killed snakes with all the skill of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi. But throw a ball at him, and he just let it go by without a thought. We always said that Peetee knew a ball was not a real live critter, and he wasn't going to waste his time on anything that was not a real live critter. He was a serious little dog with a serious job to do.
Then, one day, when he was about ten years old, I went outside to play and saw something I never thought I'd see.
Peetee was playing with a ball. Not just rolling it around, mind you, but tossing it in the air from his jaws, wagging his tail, pouncing on it and chasing it all over the yard, all the time barking at it in his distinctive "Yark, yark!" bark that I can still hear in my mind to this day.
In utter disbelief, I took the ball from him and tossed it--and he ran like the wind to get it, fetched it, and brought it to me, tail pumping and urging me to throw it again.
No one had taught him to play with a ball. He just woke up one day and had the desire to play with a ball, and for the remaining three years of his life, when he wasn't chasing critters, he would entertain himself and others with a ball. Even in old age, when congestive heart failure was about to bring his life to a close, he wanted to play ball, even a little, even if it wore him out. Overnight he went from a Very Serious Little Dog to one who could also be playful. He grew into his fullness as both a child and a great high priest of the Kingdom of Dog.
Really, when you get right down to it, everything the priesthood of believers does in bringing the Kingdom of Heaven closer to the reality of Earth, indirectly proclaims the Resurrection. All that we do to bring us closer to the reality of our own fullness of self and to be fully present for others, as both child of God and great high priest, is a piece of the proclamation of the Resurrection. The Resurrection of Christ invites us with no notes, no experience, and no instruction to play ball with God. It invites us to believe in what's not possible in the highest rationalities of our mind, and it invites us to do it with the selves we inherited--not to be someone else, but to be the fullest "us" that God created.