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Louie Crew
377 S. Harrison Street, 12D
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Louie & Ernest Clay-Crew
Married February 2, 1974


12/21/1974
 
8/17/2006



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Ester II-C



 H O M I L Y G R I T S Second Sunday of Easter, 2007

April 15, 2007

Acts 5:12a-17-22, 25-29 Signs and wonders done among the people
or Job 42:1-6 Job answered the Lord
Psalm 111 Confitebor tibi, or 118:14-18
Revelation 1:(1-8)9-19 In the midst of the lampstands
John 20:19-31 Jesus said, "put your finger here and see my hands."

When we hear the three separate Scripture lessons read at Eucharist each
Sunday morning--one from the Hebrew Scriptures, one from the apostolic
letters, one from the gospels, we get an astonishing kaleidescopic view of a
thousand years of sacred history. Sometimes we hear a prophet from seven or
eight hundred years before Christ, then a snippet from an apostolic letter,
then an evangel--a parable or gracious event in the Liberator's life. We try
to fit it all together but the expansive view is vast, wrap-around in
technicolor, an embracing panorama of the church laid out across time and
eternity, "terrible as an army with banners."

But in Eastertide we have something different on the menu--all the writing
is from what we call the "New" Testamnt--from a very limited time and space
in the story of God's people. Instead of opening our telescope, we narrow
down the focus of our microscope. The people who wrote all our readings
today, from the Acts of the Apostles, the portion of Apocalypse from the
prison isle of Patmos, the snippet from John's Gospel, may all have actually
known each other. The events, the interpretation of the events, the vision
and meaning of the events--all come from people who lived within a few years
of each other in the exciting Springtime of the Church.

It is as if the resurrection events are so breathtakingly vibrant that they
come tumbling to us all at once and all together, crowding their way into
our attention, like happy, eager children, elbowing others out of the way,
afraid to be left out. The lectionaries for this season, rude as
Marcionites, lay aside the "Old" testament and for the Lord's days of
Eastertide substitute the Acts of the Apostles. Even letters from the
apostles are shown the door, and we get a peek at coming attractions in the
Apocalypse, the Revelation to John. The Russian Orthodox Church has never
even permitted it to be read in church, perhaps because its vision of the
immanent reign of Christ seemed to threaten any absolutist government that
had succeeded Rome. Its picture of the glory of the New Heaven and the New
Earth outshines the glory of the Tsars, the Commissars and the Retread
Russes of Putin. Absolutist institutions fear visions of change.

But the first thing noticeable in the stories that the Church has remembered
> from those days immediately following the Resurrection of Jesus is that
there was turmoil, change, confrontation, and the hope and expectation of
further turmoil, change, and confrontation. The records have the excitement
of socialist publications in the 30's and 40's, before the hope of
revolution was tamed and the roaring young lions were found toothless and
whipped back to their stools with the crack of the capitalists' whip.

But not in the time of the Apostles. It was not to be "back to business as
usual" ever again in history. Jesus did not appear in the Upper Room to say,
"Well, it's back to square one; we'll go ahead with our plans for a feeding
program, and see if we can get some funding from Rome, which under the new
Caesar seems disposed to help moderate religious groups, but let's forget
the confrontations." The Resurrection changed everything. Easter meant
change--it meant, as we heard today, that the disciples went from locking
themselves into closets of fear into breaking themselves out of jail. They
went from being fearful refugees to being political agitators at  government
offices. The former timidity of the disciples is told in the gospel: "On the
evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where
the disciples were, for fear of the Judeans, Jesus came." Fear is also
mentioned in the lesson from Acts, but now it is no longer the disciples who
are afraid: they have broken out of jail, with the help of others ("a
messenger of the Lord", they said: well, yeah, wouldn't you? Anybody who
broke me out of jail I'd call them an angel, too.)  The disciples broke out
of jail and at once, at daybreak, they are downtown violating the law again,
preaching the New Order, the New Day, telling that Jesus'reign has in fact
begun, that now they had all the power that he had held, and that Jesus was
among them, and they were speaking this morning all the words of this new
Life, this new way of life, this new lifestyle of the rule of God.

But now who is it that is afraid?

Now someone came and told the officers, "the men whom you put in prison are
standing in the temple and teaching the people. Then the captain went with
the temple police and brought them, but without violence, for they were
afraid of being stoned by the people." (Acts 5:26) The officers are now
afraid, and the council is now afraid--this is the reason for the
non-violence! The fear has moved its location, from the apostles in hiding
to the police in public. Always a salutary development in the politics of
change: nonviolent cops. The Resurrection has changed everything, and the
people have been enabled and empowered. Where before Jesus' trial and
execution the people had been patsies, easily manipulated by government and
media, now the world has been turned upside down. The inarticulate have
found their tongues, the knocked down have stood up; gravestones have been
toppled and prisons opened, disciples became apostles, cowards have become
brave and joyous, running frisky and risky before breakfast, flickering
candles have become firebrands.

The risen Jesus, according to the Revelation to John, is seen in the midst
of the lampstands of the churches, and clothed as if for solemn Eucharist,
in a long robe with a golden rope around his breast, and white, white hair
and eyes like flames, and feet like bronze, and with a voice like that of
many waters--and good heavens!--Seven Stars in his right hand! and his
preaching is like a carving knife, like a sharp double-edged sword, and his
face--well it's like the Sun itself, shining in full stength. And he lays
his hand upon me, and says "Don't be afraid" and "I've got it all together
now, from beginning to end, I am the One who is really alive. I died and I
am now alive for ever. And I have the keys."

"I have the keys." That's exactly how the apostles got out of jail! Jesus
reveals that he has the keys, even the keys of death and of hell! The
death-dealing prisons and the hellish torture chambers of the Empire,
whether of Rome or the Jerusalem jail or the prisons of Nazi Germany or
Guantanamo in occupied land in Cuba, or of the Israeli terror in Palestine,
Jesus now has the keys. These are the keys that overcome the fear of death
by which the Empire rules in history. Jesus used them to get into the Upper
Room, where the disciples were hiding in fear, and Jesus uses those keys to
get apostles out of jail. The keys are jangling on his hip as he heads for
the nearest prisons, the biggest penitentiaries you are building.

"Now write what you see," the Risen one tells John on Patmos, "what is to
take place hereafter." Sent to Patmos in exile, to an island prison like
Nelson Mandela was sent to Robbens Island, John wrote his Revelation, and
escaped from that island forever, in his vision and into our imagaination,
for where in literature does the Risen One appear with more power than in
that wonderful vision. Because he overcomes fear and terrorism, because of
his vision, the church forever is able to see the Lamb standing amidst the
candlestands of her worship, and in her praxis of gospel. The keys of death
and hell are in the wounded hands of the Galilean rabbi who is our Cosmic
Christ and Liberator.

The Church has wanted time and time to forget that. The Protestant religion
has had a horror of looking at that, in its embracing of the post-Easter
Christ it has preferred a denuded cross, and left the crucifix for
Catholics, with the agonized body of the young Jew spatchcocked upon it in
torture. With few exceptions, the evangelical church lost its voice in Nazi
Germany, and the Roman Catholic hierarchy took a vow of silence.

There's an element in religion which prefers the crown without the cross,
the ecstasy without the agony, the prize without the struggle, the
congratulations without the achievement, social promotion to a one size
fits-all heaven, a mail order diploma for everybody.

Early in April we remembered on the 4th  the anniversary of the death of
Martin Luther King Jr. Wait, that's not right. It shouldn't be called that,
as if he had died of old age in a nursing home, surrounded by magnolia trees
in beautiful old Atlanta. It is the anniversary of a murder, the date of a
bloody assassination. We didn't notice anything like the events of February,
when we remembered King's birthday--it's a national holiday. But so is
Christmas, for all the good that's done to get people to live by Jesus't
eachings. Dr. King's life, like Jesus' own life, will make very little
difference to anyone, if we don't remember how and why they died, and it is
in remembering their deaths--in the anamnesis of these events (the calling
up into new life in our minds and hearts) that we are able to be get
strength and grace from them. Both of them were martyrs to the imperial
power of racism and nationalism.

It's thoroughly American to celebrate birthdays, but it is in remembering
their deaths that we are helped by our martyrs to live and have them live
among us from generation to generation.

The church has always been leery of birthdays--everybody gets one, rogues
and scoundrels as well as saints and heroes. The church celebrates only
three birthdays in the calendar--Our Lord, Our Lady, and St. John the
Baptist. All the other days are those that commemorate the death of the
saints--because Jesus has the key of death and unlocks those deaths and all
the suffering of humankind, and empowers them and us all with life. To
change us from cowards to Cristianos. To break into our closets of fear with
the words of "Peace" and the power of "Go". To spring us out of the jails of
our oppression and to give us the courage to say with Peter, "We must obey
God rather than men." The poet Richard Watson Gilder names ours the "Holy
Land" in his lesson in geography:

    This is the earth he walked on; not alone
    That Asian country keeps the sacred stain;
    Ah, not alone the far Judaean plain,
    Mountain and river! Lo, the sun that shone
    On him, shines now on us; when day is gone
    The moon of Galilee comes forth again
    And lights our path as his; an endless chain
    Of years and sorrows makes the round world one.
    The air we breathe, he breathed--the very air
    That took the mold and music of his high
    And godlike speech. Since then shall mortal dare
    With base thought front the ever-sacred sky--
    Soil with foul deed the ground whereon he laid
    In holy death his pale, immortal head!

To avoid looking at the wounds of the Risen Jesus and the death of his
saints is to avoid the venture of faith. " Put your finger here, and see my
hands," Jesus said to Thomas. And says to us, "Put out your hand and place
it in my wounded side. Do not be faithless but believing."

Timidity will keep the Christian community compliant with the movement
towards zombie fascism that is taking place relentlessly in the United
States, before our blinded eyes. The television and the newspapers will not
show you the hands of Christ in the Holy Land today. The manufactured media
events of the sports and entertainment industries will do their best to give
you bread and circuses and turn your eyes away from the wounds of Jesus in
all the Galilees of the Two Thirds world today, in Africa, in South East
Asia, in Central America. You are bidden to make your peace with oppression
and Be Nice, don't exaggerate, and stay in your place. Back to the prayer
bench, back to the kitchen.

Don't avoid the wounds of Christ, don't avoid the relics of the martyrs.
Kiss them, and talk about them, and talk to them. Kneel to them and sing of
them. Don't celebrate King's birthday and forget his martyrdom. Don't avert
your eyes from the Risen One, dazzling in his beauty, frightening in the
power of his voice, the sound of a raging river in a flood. Don't avoid the
flaming eyes, and the Life that is there for all. He has the keys.

John's gospel tells us at the end of the lesson for today that Jesus did
many other Signs which are not written in his book, but these are written
that we may believe. Jesus is today amongst us doing Signs and Wonders,
breaking in to fearful hiding places and breaking out of prisons and out of
lies, -- these are not yet written much, or noticed in our Murdoch managed
media. But we preach--the pulpit being one of the last places where dissent
is possible--we preach that you may believe that it is Jesus who is the
Christ, the Heir of God and Lord of the New People, and that believing you
may have life in this name.

GRANT GALLUP
CASA AVE MARIA
MANAGUA, NICARAGUA C.A.
grant73@turbonett.com.ni 



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