Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mask ... and being unmasked

What changed Mary…. What caused her to leave that tomb and not just go back to her home with the other disciples but to go and tell, to go and tell everyone she could about this amazing thing she had seen and experienced, was Jesus meeting her at her most vulnerable, Jesus meeting her at the heart of her struggle, at the heart of her pain. Jesus taking her Blues and turning it to Gospel. Meeting her and touching her and calling her by name.


I know you.

I know your pain.

I love you.

That's Easter.

Last Sunday, we heard the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples in the upper room. The first thing Jesus does is show his wounds. The proof Thomas demands is not Jesus touch or voice, but his wounds.

We encounter Jesus in that place of honesty. Where our wounds are out there for everyone to see, and where a Christ -- resurrected but still bearing scars - meets us and calls us by name.

That kind of honesty is scary. It requires deep vulnerability. It requires intense risk. And yet it is the very definition of the Church at its best when we are able to be that open, to show our own wounds, and to invite the wounded, resurrected Christ to meet us in that place.

We occasionally get approached by photographers and filmmakers wanting to use the Cathedral for a photo or video shoot -- and I usually try to say yes. But I have never been so enthusiastic about a yes as I have when Jeff Koziatek (some of you know him as "Juggling Jeff") approached us as a location for Part One of his trilogy: Mask.

The final version was released today. Take a few minutes (it's short) to watch it here.

Mask cuts to the heart of who we are as Christian community. The community portrayed here ... unlike Mary Magdalene at the tomb, unlike Jesus in that upper room ... is intentionally concealing it's wounds. And in fact ejecting someone who dares to show that kind of vulnerability.

It's haunting to me to watch this play out on screen in our own Cathedral. If makes me uncomfortable. But I believe it raises critical questions for us. Newcomers to our Cathedral rave about what a welcoming place we are ... and I believe that is one of the natural gifts of this congregation. But there is a difference between being welcoming and being a safe place for us to share and offer our wounds. Offer them not to wallow in, but to meet the healing presence of Christ?

On Easter Sunday, I said that I didn't want us to just have a "Happy Easter." I hoped we would set the bar higher than that. I hoped that we would have Mary's Easter ... a realEaster, asking aloud:

What if we open ourselves up to have an encounter with Jesus that is so profound that we have to go and tell everyone about it? What if we dare to be real with one another, to let loose our fears and our tears and our hopes and our dreams – trusting that when two are three are gathered in his name, Jesus is in the midst of us? .

If we open ourselves up and allow ourselves to love, if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with one another, we can, like Mary, trust that Jesus will show up and call us by name and love us more deeply and delight in us more joyfully than we can possibly imagine.

Watch Jeff's video and let yourself be challenged by it. Do you wear a mask in this community, and if so which one? How can we become a community unmasked -- meeting Christ in profound and life-changing ways.

Can we be that bold? Can we be that brave?

I believe we can.