I’m in a Resurrection State of Mind

Kate Lasso

April 16, 2017

Text: John 20:1-18[i]

When I accepted the invitation to share this morning, a phrase kept coming to me, to the tune of a Billy Joel song:  "I'm in a Resurrection State of Mind."[ii]  At first I was amused at my own silliness.  But then I started to wonder what does that mean? What is a Resurrection State of Mind anyway?  1 Corinthians 2:16, tells us that, as believers, we "have the mind of Christ,” meaning that we are to order our thinking, our inner lives, according to Christ's example.  In turn, putting on the mind of Christ leads to actions that are also ordered in accordance with Christ’s example, and God's desire.  If we submit ourselves to the lordship of Christ, both Romans 6:4 and Colossians tells us that we are both buried and raised with Christ.  Here's what Colossians 2:12-13 says:

12  And having been buried with Christ in baptism, you were raised with Christ through your faith in the power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. 13When you were dead in your trespasses and ... your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.

And today’s Epistle goes further:  Colossians 3:1-4 reads: "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Christ in glory."

This suggests to me that, to have a resurrection state of mind means that we must first die to our human nature, looking beyond the worldly distractions, the dominant culture, the comfort we seek for ourselves and our loved ones and the frustrations and disappointments that living in this world brings.  And as we die to this way of living, we are reborn as God's Beloved, with Christ as our example, setting our hearts with a desire to please God with our thoughts and actions. 

I wonder: Is this seeing past the specter of death and holding on to the promise of new life, what gave Jesus the courage to surrender to crucifixion?  Is having a Resurrection State of Mind what gave later saints such as Oscar Romero and Martin Luther King the courage to live their lives with integrity and faithfulness, even when facing the probability that they would pay the highest price that could be paid?  If so, this mind of Christ that sees beyond the illusion of death to the reality of new life, this Resurrection State of Mind focuses our attention on a "divine reality" that serves as our North Star, guiding us home to God, past all of the distractions this world has to offer. 

I don't know about you, but I could use a big dose of "divine reality" right now.  And I know that it's up to me to reach out for it and hold on tight.  Now you may remember that last week Kent talked about the importance of song.  And in that spirit, I have spent some time working with that Billy Joel tune, thinking of what a resurrection experience could be.

Some folks like to get away
Take a holiday from the daily grind
Hop a flight to a jet set spot so they can unwind
I'm on a journey to find the truth divine
I'm in a Resurrection state of mind.

So far I've been exploring this idea of putting on a Resurrection State of Mind from the perspective of an individual believer. But let's look at it through community, both with God and others, in the context of Lent as a season leading us to Good Friday and culminating in Easter.

In her teaching at the beginning of the Lenten season, Emily reminded us that "We do not journey into Lent alone. While the journey into Lent is a solitary practice, we engage in this practice at the same time and in the same spirit as other followers of Christ, so we can provide support to and learn from one another."  Emily suggested that the Lenten experience invites us to "strip our lives of what is unnecessary, what holds us back from following The Great Life Spirit’s intentions more clearly. And, when we open ourselves up, we may find the way forward to be unknown, surprising, and somewhat wild."  By getting back to basics, we create space in our lives to experience God in an untamed, undomesticated way.  And anything less than this is not experiencing God at all—it's just our opinion of what God should be like. 

Living in a Resurrection State of mind opens up a space for us to experience God more fully, based on trusting that if we are faithful on the journey we'll eventually rejoice in the outcome—we'll encounter the Easter resurrection—no matter what deathlike or Good Friday experience is immediately confronting us.  Perhaps this is a lesson from today’s Gospel reading.  In the beginning of the reading, Mary Magdalene can only conceive of Christ crucified.  She is only able to see God’s reality, the resurrected Christ, after Jesus calls her by name and draws her into the possibility of that reality.

So we need to stop boxing God into the confines of our human experience and stop being afraid of experiencing God in new, surprising and untamed ways.    I feel a confession coming on:

I have all the self-help books
listen to NPR  and read all the time
Been through years of discussion groups, which have all been fine
I know what I need now
Don't want to waste more time.
I'm in a Resurrection state of mind

Now I think that we all agree that we living in very challenging times.  Fred illustrated that very well in his teaching about God’s solidarity with us.  God is with us!  In his teaching, Fred named a mean-spiritedness that is hovering over our land, unleashing chaos and barrenness—it’s drying out our bones.  He identified the fractured nature of our world today, the opposite of God’s vision of solidarity, order and fertile life.  But even with the challenges of these times, Fred exhorted us to not fall into the sin of despair, of focusing our attention on what is not right in the world.  Instead, we need to be visible expressions of faith—of our belief in resurrection—in order to unleash God’s creative power—God’s wildness—in the world.  It is this faith and belief in resurrection that makes the reality of God-with-Us palpable and gives us the strength to live in this world, but not be of this world. 

And speaking for myself, given the challenges of today’s world, putting on the mind of Christ and seeing beyond the desolation and despair of circumstances to the hope of resurrection is what I desperately want. 

In her Lenten sermon, Ann shared with us that this way of living, living a resurrection lifestyle, requires discipline to help us remember who we really are and put us on the path to becoming who God really wants us to be:  "As Christ’s disciples we are led to the places of deep stillness right in the midst of the noise and confusion and pain—and then to acts of compassion and solidarity."  By first finding the stillness within, we are prepared to act in ways that express God's unleashed passion and impulse to new creation and life.  "We are called to deepen our life in Christ to prepare ourselves for outspoken witness."  And by nourishing ourselves from this wellspring of God's truth, we then have the opportunity to share that life-giving truth with others. Recalling again the image Margaret offered to us a few weeks ago, dry bones can come back to life, they can live again, if we are faithful and allow the oasis of God's word to wash over our thoughts, tend to the needs of our souls, and bear fruit in our actions.

It was so easy living day-by-day
out of touch with my inner truth
But now I need a little sacred space
I want the mind of Christ, no matter what I lose

I need God's reality   Yes it's time for me 'cause I've let it slide
Then the world came crashing in on me, and I must confide
Don't have any reasons,
I've left them all behind
I'm in a Resurrection state of mind.

Last week, Kent once again reminded us that putting on the mind of Christ is the path taking us from the sorrow of Lent to the celebration Easter and the promise of Resurrection through loving relationships.  

Kent invited us to look at the Holy Week scriptures as a witness to the way a loving community lives, allowing each person to bring his or her whole self as gift, in service of the community as disciples of Christ.  One of the passages for Holy Week, Isaiah 50, opens with verse 4: The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.  The Lord wakens me morning by morning, awakens my ear to listen like one being instructed ….

  Together as community we are stronger than we are individually, and together we find the strength and resilience to withstand the trials and tribulations of our times, becoming visible witnesses to God’s truth and justice, standing our ground against—and even taking back ground from— oppressive forces, speaking out of our faith to confront confusion and fear, sustaining the weary whose burdens are heavy, making the dry bones live again. 

I'm on a journey to find the truth divine
I'm in a Resurrection state of mind.

Today we celebrate the Risen Christ.  Let our lives, yours and mine, serve as a witness to God's reality.  Let us be the bearers of light and life into this dark and fractured world, reminding all we meet of God’s reality, of God’s promise of new life.

Let us be the Good News that Christ has risen indeed—and that we are newly born into living hope, trusting the reality beyond our knowing.

I'm in a Resurrection state of mind.




[i] 20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 
14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

 

[ii] Resurrection State of Mind, by Billy Joel

Some folks like to get away
Take a holiday from the daily grind
Hop a flight to a jet set spot so they can unwind
I'm on a journey to find the truth divine
I'm in a Resurrection state of mind.

I have all the self-help books
listen NPR  and read all the time
Been through years of discussion groups,
which have all been fine
I know what I need now
Don't want to waste more time.
I'm in a Resurrection state of mind

It was so easy living day by day
out of touch with my inner truth
But now I need a little sacred space
I want the mind of Christ, no matter what I lose

I need God's reality   
Yes it's time for me 'cause I've let it slide
The world came crashing in on me, and I must confide
Don't have any reasons,
I've left them all behind
I'm in a Resurrection state of mind.

It was so easy living day by day
out of touch with my inner truth
But now I need a little sacred space
I want the mind of Christ, no matter what I lose

I need God's reality  
Yes it's time for me 'cause I've let  it slide
The world came crashing in on me, and I must confide
Don't have no more reasons,
I've left them all behind
I'm in a Resurrection state of mind.

I'm on a journey to find the truth divine. 
I'm in a Resurrection state of mind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhGvMVltQbM