Walking among tombs is probably not at the top of your list for an Easter day moment with your family, but this metaphor of darkness, when Mary went to see the grave, is something that catches us all from time to time.
A curious fan asked the seasoned veteran piano player why he chose to make his career playing jazz. The old pro looked up with busy eyebrows. “I don’t like crowds.” he said.
1) Be present, be aware
The performance of Jazz improvisation requires that the artist be fully present in his or her consciousness. Wayne Shorter expressed it well, saying that the music requires “total involvement . . . When you’re playing, the music is not just you and the horn – the music is the microphone, the chair, the door opening, the spotlight, something rattling. From soul to universe.”
What makes a good story is often conflict, how it happens, how long it lasts and how it gets settled. The younger son begins to create some conflict in this story when he asked his dad for his share of the family’s money. Normally a son might be given property before dad dies, however the dad would still administer the property.
When you first hear this parable, no doubt many think that this is a crazy, mixed up way of running a company. Five times during the day he goes out to hire workers for his vineyard and then at the end of the day pays them all the same wage. No wonder the ones hired in the morning were burned; working under the heat of the sun, while those who came last remained in the late day shade. What happens to our tidy world of an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage? So what’s the point? Some parables are helped by looking at the context they appear in.
I once taught a class on the Ten Commandments. I asked people to imagine what the 11 Commandment might be. One person wrote, “Don’t get caught,” another wrote, “respect”. But another person wrote something completely different, she wrote,” Live the dream.” I remember asking, somewhat as a joke, “and which dream might that be.” I’m not sure what she said, but I think we should all live the dream.
The friend was grabbing a lunch in a mall food court. He said he got something that reminded him of lunch, found a table, sat down and suddenly heard singing. It was Lara’s Song from Dr. Zhivago. Boy could that guy sing. The noisy food court went silent. Everyone hung on each phrase as this wonderful guy sang. When it was over everyone clapped and he started to sing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.
When the desert locust is around, there’s always the chance that something dangerous is going to happen. Locusts like being together and a desert swarm can pack 60 million locusts into less than half a square mile and then stretch to 460 square miles in size.
It’s every famer’s worst nightmare. Each locust can eat its weight in plant very quickly. So a full size locust swarm could devour 423 million pounds of grain each day. A whole year’s crop, a whole community’s livelihood, a nation’s survival gobbled up in minutes.
Epiphany, the church season we are walking into this morning, means revelation. So this is the Sunday in the church’s year when we reflect on this particular gift.
Revelation comes from outside you, it’s something you don’t seek, but it becomes the template for all future experience.
It’s the week of Thanksgiving, a holiday for most unless of course you’re a turkey. Thanksgiving comes down to two words. Thank you. Saying Thank You and You’re Welcome recognizes the spider web of inter-connectedness that characterizes the truth of our lives. What happens over there affects the prices of this or that on the grocery shelf over here. So a thank you recognizes truth that you and I are all connected.