Friends and colleagues, a brief note before you read today’s Monday Muse: During the season of Lent, I write prayers daily as a spiritual discipline and I post them here on my blog. The Monday Muse feature will take a Lenten hiatus while I post daily prayers. If you’re looking for sermon ideas for Lent, check out my previously posted material on the OT lectionary readings, the Narrative Lectionary’s Gospel readings, Anneke Kaai’s paintings, preaching on hymns, and two sermon series on prayer. If you’d like to join me in praying through Lent, send me your email address through the Contact page and I’ll email you a new prayer prompt each day!
For today’s Monday Muse, a bit of musing about Easter.
This past weekend, I visited the Philadelphia Flower Show, a particularly welcome venture as the winter drags its stormy self into March with little hint of relenting. The floral displays were stunning — a delicious retreat for the senses and the soul alike!
This year’s Flower Show included a butterfly exhibit: a warm, netted room filled with the humid aroma of flowers and the delightful flitting of countless butterflies. The exhibit was set up to be walked through and experienced, not simply viewed from outside; perhaps fifty visitors were in the room at any one time.
As newcomers entered the exhibit room, eager chatter became awed silence … became murmured delight … became shared joy. People whispered and walked carefully. We all looked around us with intentionality: up at the netting, down at the lush turf underfoot, around at the hanging plants, even at one another, trying to catch sight of each variety of butterfly. Strangers made eye contact, smiled, pointed.
Most fascinating of all was the way that everyone stood straight, even strained upwards, whenever a butterfly swooped by, as if by standing taller we could convey silently, “Land here, Little Beauty. Perch on my hair, my shoulder, my nose, my hand. Let me mirror your delicate life with gentleness, for just a moment. Let me be akin to your beautiful intricacy.” And when the flitting creature alit on a stranger’s head rather than our own, we gathered to coo and awe and converse.
All of which may sound more like a report on my time at the Philadelphia Flower Show than a reflection on Easter, but those moments in the butterfly exhibit were a tangible resurrection experience. People walked and talked and interacted in that netted room as though they believed truly that life is sacred.
We do not behave that way on most days, in most moments. Not even in church.
Easter is the occasion to remember this inherent truth, to remind one another of it, and to recommit ourselves to living more fully by it: life is sacred. So sacred that we hold our breaths and strain our heads tall just for the opportunity to participate in the life of a butterfly. So sacred that we dissolve into tears over it, like Mary in the garden. So sacred that we run to see it, like Peter and John.
Life is sacred. So sacred that it’s worth sharing with others, as Mary shared her delight with the disciples, as Peter preached his hope to Cornelius’ household. So sacred that it’s worth smiling and meeting a stranger’s eye in a room full of butterflies.
So sacred that it’s worth loving what is delicate, no matter how precarious an endeavour that seems to be.
However you celebrate Easter in worship this year, however you choose to preach the familiar good news, give your faith community a taste of the sacred beauty called Life in such a way that all are encouraged to live differently, more gently, more lovingly, in celebration of the smallest butterfly and in community with all humanity & creation.