Excerpted from Power Made Perfect in Weakness, a Lenten Guide for Lectionary Year A from the North Carolina Council of Churches.
Easter Sunday – Colossians 3:1-4
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4 is just right for Easter Sunday, proclaiming resurrection and glory and the lofty injunction that we set our hearts and minds on “things above” rather than those of this earthly realm.
Yet, even as we crave this renewal of life, Christ within us, most of us have never had firsthand experience of the realm of “above.” We’re poor earthbound creatures, tied to this world and its often troubling doings. Where is that junction to be found between “right here” and “above”? And how do we follow the injunction of setting our hearts and minds on “things above” while “dying” to the things of this world, so as to access this new life, this glory?
I think the junction–this place where the Divine meets us–might just be blessing. And I think following this injunction is simply a matter of knowing how to recognize blessing. Those things that drench us in God’s love, in life – rather than those things we drench ourselves in, that make us look good, which we mistakenly call blessing.
I once lived on a barrier island off the South Carolina coast where vacation homes were christened with whimsical names: Conch Shell, All Dunn Inn, The Great Escape – and just a mile or so down from the dirt road where my family lived, The Blessing. The Blessing was majestic, a perfect work of architecture perched upon that piece of coveted real estate known as a deep-water lot. Each time I drove by The Blessing, I couldn’t help but admire its beauty and grandeur. Yet it also made me uneasy.
Just another mile down the road, in stark contrast to The Blessing, was a Gullah settlement of tiny, shotgun, un-air-conditioned cottages. The Gullah people were the descendants of the island’s original slaves, who despite a history of violence and oppression, of ongoing racism and intergenerational poverty, were the resilient heart and soul of the island. I couldn’t help but wonder, if any of the Gullah folk ever wandered up toward The Blessing, what would they think of it? If this grand house was a blessing, what would they make of their own impoverished homes? If The Blessing was just that, were they then cursed?
And one day, it happened. As I was driving toward The Blessing, in the opposite direction I saw two young Gullah boys about ten years old approaching on their ramshackle bicycles. It was a perfect spring day, and the air was sweet with the scent of jasmine and pine resin, the earth greening and stirring with new life. I slowed for the boys’ passing, and as they whisked by The Blessing, they – unlike me – didn’t look toward it at all, not for a moment. They only rode on, their heads thrown back with joy, laughing and shouting to one another, filled with life, filled with glory.
Knowing, perhaps, that in their perfect moment of freedom, in this intersection of above and below so filled with the grace and beauty of God’s hand, they were both blessed and blessing.
They were Easter.