Tonight we have gathered around a sacred fire,
telling the ancient stories that point beyond our own lives
to the mystery of life itself.
WE’VE HEARD THE STORY OF CREATION:
In Genesis (1:1-2:2) the priestly writers imagined that…
In the beginning… a wind from God swept over the face of the waters… And God said, ‘To every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that was made, and indeed, it was very good.
There is a mysterious energy that fills the world with life.
And we ourselves have known this energy of life –
from the wind in the trees and the waves on the shore
to the cry of a newborn child
to the mysterious strength we find in the words and wisdom
of the dying.
WE’VE HEARD THE STORY OF ISRAEL’S ESCAPE FROM EGYPT:
In Exodus (14:10-15:1) the Torah writers remembered that…
The angel of God who was going before the Israelites moved and went behind them… And so the cloud was there in the darkness, and it lit up the night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, as God had commanded him, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. And the Israelites went into the sea on dry ground…
There is an energy for justice,
a mysterious force that works for freedom and equality.
And we ourselves know the longing for freedom,
we ourselves have known this energy for justice;
we see it in others, we know it in ourselves.
WE’VE HEARD GOD’S PROMISE OF SALVATION:
In the prophets (Isaiah 55:1-11) we hear echoes of God’s word…
I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for you… For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish what I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
There is an energy for love, a mysterious love that will not let go.
And we ourselves have known this love,
a love that forgives, a love that keeps its promises,
a love that is the steadfast, sure foundation of our lives.
Sometimes we have received this love from others,
sometimes we feel it for others –
a child, a parent, a friend, a stranger –
all signs of the deep Love that forgives,
the all-embracing Love that keeps its promises,
the Love that is the steadfast, sure foundation of our lives.
WE’VE HEARD THE STORY OF THE DRY BONES:
Another prophet (Ezekiel 37:1-14) spoke to those in exile…
Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.’ So Ezekiel prophesied as he had been commanded; and as he prophesied, the bones came together..bone to its bone. He looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then God said to Ezekiel, ‘Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.’ … and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.
There is a mysterious energy that brings life out of death
And we ourselves have glimpses of that energy,
an energy of life that is contagious,
an energy for life and love and justice,
an energy, a power, a wind, a Spirit of life,
that even death cannot destroy.
How do we open ourselves to this energy of life?
this love that forgives,
this love that pushes for justice,
this love that is the steadfast, sure foundation of our lives,
this love that will not die?
St. Augustine taught we must “die daily” to our small and separate sense of self.
And so tonight we have come to sit together, to explore what lies beyond ourselves.
And we breathe in the silence.
We breathe in –
not just the air around us,
but we breathe in the Spirit that fills the world….
The Spirit that breathed over the waters…
that filled the world with living things…
that freed a people from slavery…
that spoke hope through the prophets…
that still fills our souls with life.
We can let that Spirit free us from the egos
that dominate our everyday lives.
We can release all our false identities,
just accepting the selves we were made to be.
We can release all our addictions and attachments,
just attending to the life and love that is already within us.
Like Jesus, we can surrender, entering an awareness
that is silent but spacious and solid.
We can just breathe in the sacred silence.
We can completely let go.
And ‘then the silence reveals itself as refuge,
an awareness that can be trusted,
tenderly loving and filled with the majesty and the mystery
of the sacred.’ *
This majesty, this mystery,
this refuge that can be trusted,
this is the God of the Risen Christ.
THE EASTER STORY
The Evangelist (Matthew 28:1-10) recorded these words…
As the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb…. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’
The stories we hear tonight have prepared us
for the last story of the Easter Vigil,
the story of the Risen Christ –
risen again into the world,
and risen again in us.
* See “Living in the Light of Death” by Kathleen Dowling Singh.
In Oneing, “Ripening,” Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 42-44