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Sermon: Everybody Has a Resurrection Story

 

 

The “Sunrise Celebration” we held, is a ritual that we hold on Resurrection Sunday morning and is aligned with the biblical account of Mary Magdalene, who, “…went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.”

We at Glide Memorial Church know that it’s still dark for you, but we see you—In the shadows, in the cut, in the shame and in the secrecy. The scripture says, “In the dark, she saw that the stone had been rolled away.”

If you don’t know you’re liberated yet, just try trusting us in Harm Reduction, in the Women’s Center, in the Walk-In Center, in our Recovery Circles, and in Church. She didn’t think she saw. She didn’t guess that’s what happened. Her testimony is that she saw that the stone had been rolled away.

And it’s rolling away too, from whatever is stopping you from healing, from recovering, from deliverance, from freedom. We see it for you, with our “Night Vision Goggled Faith.” It’s happening in real-time, in tomb-opening-speed-time. Oh beloved, come out, come out, come out, come out. 

You see, in the Tenderloin, a Resurrection Celebration is always needed. That’s why Glide Memorial Church prays, sings, preaches and poets to the tombs of our community, until the dead comes out and the light comes in, redistributing its holy among the lowly.

Resurrection Sunday is a year-round celebration of death no longer serving you. (Rev. Cecil, We should totally start a recovery circle for death, because it’s not gon’ know what to do with itself, when we start saying no to it. I mean can you imagine death saying, “I have come to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity?”)

And the thing about raising yourself from your dead, is that it matters not how long you been dead, 3 days, 3 months, 3 years or 3 decades, because the clock stops ticking in death.

You see, death is a state, it is not a destination. Addiction is a state, and not a destination. Violence is a state, and not a destination. Hate is a state, and not a destination. Poverty is a state and not a destination. You can transform the state you’re in.

Because resurrection means, “Nobody can convince you that you are to be treated like dirt.”

I’m still recovering from a religion that wants me to make “sense” of Christ’s death, to roll with the punches, turn the cheek, when it was a “senseless” killing. Senseless: Not deploying or depending on taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing. Not depending on material or immaterial. Not depending on Chronos or Kairos. Not bivalent. Right or wrong. Not what history said. Not logical.  

“Don’t forget your boy”, Jesus’ co-defendant said. “We hung out together. We saw each other at our worst. You cried out. You bled out. And the veil, the space-time fabric is ripping. There is no up or down. In or out. You are the speed of light. You are eclipsing all my reason. You are the darkening skies.”   

Jesus says, “Baby boy, I got you. I am God’s only begotten son and I got “got” too. Imma remember you. I’m never gon’ forget you. Imma recognize you even if you don’t recognize you. Whatever form or formlessness you take, I’ll know you. And you are none of the things they made you, and made you out, to be. And I can tell you that, because I am here with you, and there with you already. Two places at once. Bound on heaven and bound on earth. And save me a plate if you get there first.” 

What then, the resurrection says to Glide Memorial Church, to the Tenderloin and to the world? What good and God and holy can come out of this, if we cannot take our trauma, our colonized minds, our privilege, our capitalist indoctrination, our ancestral curses, our mortality, and our connection to our materiality, and try to “make sense” of senselessness.

All this figuring. All this Christian mind production. Get out of your head! They gon’ have you leaving this world thinking yo’ name is “Boo Boo The Fool”. I’m telling you, the bible is preserved, is here to tell us, despite what we think we know, particularly about how we live and we die, defies logic.  

What the resurrection says, is that forgiveness is not the opposite of strategy, and is not devoid of critical engagement with racism or violence. Forgiveness is about materiality, the real and tangible public demonstration of black bodies moving through oppression and pain and the real way that we resist hate from metastasizing in our bodies.

It is deployed swiftly, with aim and precision. It is not empty. It carries the medicine to the infected cell. It is a miraculous turn. It radically disrupts and shifts popular narrative. It has never meant we forget.

On the contrary. Because every fiber of our being is hurting from racist assaults, forgiveness is muscled and memorialized. It has never meant that there is no work to do. It has never meant there is no pain in our passion.  

What the resurrection says, what the good, god and holy about the resurrection says, is now we know that life is not the opposite of death. Life has no opposite. Death is the opposite of birth. God does not have to be understood. God has to be known. God has to be imagined. Poets and poetics are here to help you imagine God. We are the Imagineers of the kindom.

Death is not the moment to try to make our psychic wounds physical, architectural, or archetypal. It’s so oppressive trying to build your own tombstone. So maybe this is it… the good, the holy, the God…That in Christ’s death, like at so many other places in the bible, God yet again, undoes oppression. As People of faith, we got to get his. Got to know that we know that we know this.  

God made a baby with Adam, to let gay men know that their oppression is not of God. 

God told Adam and Eve “Don’t eat this”, to let the poor know that God would never cut food stamp programs again. 

God became a slum lord and kicked Adam and Eve out, and is now anti-gentrification. 

God had a one night stand with Mary, and would never be a deadbeat dad talking bad about baby’s mamas.  

God watched God’s son get killed by the state and could do nothing, and became a black mother.  

My faith is a challenge to God to grow up. My faith requires me to stand up to the gospel! To make leaps of faith. Not just connect historical critical dots for you. 

Because… “And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, ‘Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit…’”

Jesus is dying and is transforming into all spirit. Is moving from flesh and bone to wing man. And God at the exact same time of Jesus’ death, transforms God’s self, from all spirit into all humanity.  

They leap through each other’s experiences. God leaping from creation towards Jesus and Jesus leaping from death towards God and they are collapsing into each other’s arms like they were both running from somebody.  

God balances out Jesus’ death. Does not leave us to just tend to Jesus but becomes us. God defies logic.  

Why would God need hands to hold the spirit of Jesus? That makes no sense. That’s like holding your breath. How much does a spirit weigh? That’s like talking in tongues. That’s like counting on someone. God becomes what Christ needs. A committed catcher. God cups God’s hands. God is not a tomb. God is held and holder.  

And the Good News is that God is still in the undoing oppression business.  

The Holy News is, that you can stand up to the bible and live to tell about it.  

The God News is, we celebrate not the murdered or the murderer, but we celebrate the death of death and all that dulls and deadens us.   

The God News is, once you can imagine God, God becomes real.  

The God News is, we no longer fall for the okey-doke. We no longer have to dwell on our death on earth, and miss living-in and through Christ.  

The God News is today, beloved, is that we are called to remember all senseless killings and at the same time suspend all senses. And extract ourselves from systems that keep us owing, rather than knowing God. 

Amen, Amen, Amen.

 

By Marvin K. White

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