Devotions from Tri-City ELCA Churches – Pastor Tia Pelz, April 8, 2021

Devotion for April 8, 2021 from Pastor Tia Pelz of Christ the King:

They tell me
only god
can rise from the dead
but i’ve watched friends
carry crosses
and i’m not so

grief rarely leaves any remains
it does not hold trials
or kiss in gardens
it hammers its nails wildly
sons of god
or not

tombs made of trauma
are heavier than stone
and i’ve never seen angels
at their door
but i have seen mothers
and fathers keening
and friends with bloody hands
trying to rescue buried

all powerful gods
conquer death easily
but wounded people
work harder
and that’s a revelation
i believe in

miracles happen every day
resurrections too
and maybe jesus is alive
but we still survive
and that is a good news
worth preaching

                                                                                 by Kaitlin Hardy Shetler[1]

Dear Saints!

Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! So much hope we need this spring. So much hope and life and change. And God conquered death. Hallelujah!

But what does this really mean? Tori asked this question on Tuesday, and I have been pondering about it as well, coincidentally 😊

What would Jesus’ resurrection have been without anybody believing it? Without the brave women telling anyone. Without women becoming the first preachers of the Gospel of a church that wasn’t even called a church yet.

For Jesus’ resurrection to roll across the nations, it needed the resurrection of his closest friends first. And that might be the true Easter miracle.

A powerful God conquers death easily, Kaitlin writes in her poem above. But it’s hard for wounded people. For you and me, for survivors, to resurrect. The people who mourned Jesus, who couldn’t imagine living a single day without him. They resurrected. They overcame their fear and sadness, and devastation and resurrected to living monuments. The surviving mothers and sisters, fathers and brothers, family and friends. Living monuments to the one who was taken from them. They kept talking about him, kept doing what he did, kept eating and drinking what he had asked them to do. They kept his memory alive and that gave them hope. So much hope, that they resurrected to life again.

There is power and energy in grieving. There is huge pain, frustration and anger that wants to get out. And sometimes, it does – and everyone has to listen. Often it’s the moms who won’t shut up. Who will make sure that their kids did not die in vain.

Remember Mamie Till Bradley? A modern Mary, crying out for what had been done to her sweet boy. So many were grieving little Emmett. “Yet, none of them were grieving quite like her. Emmett had but one mother, and she had but one child. There would be no more first-born son relationships for Mrs. Bradley.” (T.D. Anderson)

Anderson is an artist whom I recently discovered. She painted Mrs. Bradley as a modern Pieta. A modern mother of God, mourning her son, crying, screaming, and fighting for him to not have died in vain. And while Mary was lucky for her son to resurrect and to be seen by her afterwards, she still needed to believe that it was him. That it was worth living for her, to proclaim her son’s victory over death, even though he had been brutally taken from her. Proclaiming one truth while knowing that another one is true at the same time, that’s resurrection hope. Death is not gone, it’s just not the end anymore. And that’s what Mrs. Bradley believed as well. What George Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s friends and family believe today. Death is not the end. Resurrection is real. Change is real. And it often goes through pain and death.

“At every turn, someone sought to undermine Mrs. Bradley’s agency. The reporter who broke the news to her had to be coaxed out of the information, unsure of her ability to handle it. The state of Mississippi had every intention of burying Emmett the day he was found, as if no family would claim and mourn him. She had to fight them to bring his body home. She had to fight to open the nesting boxes sealed by the state of Mississippi. They sent him to Illinois under the condition that the boxes containing his body not be opened. Mrs. Bradley had no time for that. She hadn’t signed any agreements and was determined to see and identify her son. When she did, she found they’d packed his body in lime so that it would decay faster. The evils perpetrated against this woman and her child were endless! No one thought she should view his body. Everyone was aghast when she insisted on an open-casket. Every decision she made was questioned, but she would not relent. And those decisions sparked a revolution that had worldwide reverberations.” [2]

We know little about Mary and Mary and Salome who were the first to see the empty tomb. We know that the men didn’t trust their reports and needed to see for themselves. And we know that the women found the strength, were given the strength, accepted the strength (and fate) to live and proclaim the Good News that are soaked in blood. That everyone is loved by God. That God is stronger than death. That a lynching will change the world. Not in the way white supremacists and people holding onto power want it. A lynching changes the world because it will set free the energy of the ones left behind. The ones that will resurrect. Very slowly. With many more moms (and dads) crying out and resurrecting to life. Until that won’t be necessary anymore. With us slowly resurrecting back to life that hopefully soon will be post-pandemic, post-racist, post-hatred. One day. Because Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Pastor Tia!



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