By Rev. David Rommereim
On Easter Sunday at Good Shepherd, I shared the fact that the powerful resurrection story looks more like a "spiritual tsunami." I believe we are experiencing such a spiritual wind at Good Shepherd. I also shared that the women at the tomb are some of the most powerful women in the Bible. They refused to be intimidated by the Roman police, the temple elite, and the political hegemony which kept people buried in a sea of fear. They confronted the fears that could have kept them home safe and quiet. Jesus was lynched by the Roman police because he was a prophet, and they knew what was at stake in going out to attend to Jesus' dead body.
These women are my heroes to the Gospel resurrection narrative of Luke. Luke reports that they came to the tomb at early dawn to complete the burial of the crucified Jesus. Their trepedations about the future rendered them "scared to death," yet they ventured out to the tomb. The women - Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women received the power to push up against their darkened boundaries and the force of death. They were accompanied by the two who enlightened the tomb and rolled the stone away. In the same way this awesome God entered the deep (Genesis 1.1-2) and spoke light into darkness, so the Abba of the Prophet Jesus entered the darkness of the tomb and placed an unquenchable light in the midst of the dark.
This is the God who is at every center of our lives. This is the God who Jesus taught these women to pray "OUR ABBA." And they became courageous and powerful because there was no "I" in their work. It was all "Our."
At the Easter Sermon, I also spoke about the impact of the resurrection through the metaphor of what is called "The Butterfly Affect." This metaphor was developed by the father of Chaos Theory in physics. His name is Edward Lorenz, an MIT meteorologist from the mid 20th Century. He puts the theory of The Butterfly Affect in a simple verbal chrysalis. He says: "Tiny differences in input could quickly become overwhelming differences in output; hence the notion that a butterfly stirring in air today in (Bay Ridge) can cause an avalanche in the Himalayas next month."
The story I shared in the sermon was told by the climatologist, James Hansen of Columbia University. He was trying to explain to his grandchildren how everything is connected and why we need to stop using up so much of the earth's resources, thus endangering many species, like the butterfly. He was trying to explain to the kids a story which could help them understand how to deal with their fears about the future of climate change, even with the chaos of bad news when it comes to global conglomerates of the fuel industry paying for their politically hedged bets on keeping fossil fuels at our beckoning call. Dr. Hansen's grand kids want to face their fears, and care for the precious, delicate earth, and grandpa is trying to help them by using this wonderful metaphor of the butterfly.
You may think this is sounds like a childish trick, to talk about the Butterfly Affect at a Resurrection Sermon. But I am here to tell you these women, these delicate butterflies, took two steps back, filled up with the energy of the light, and then flew. Like a soul tsunami, they began to fly after facing their fear, peeking into the dark tomb, and letting God speckle it with his shining light.
Good Shepherd is alive today because these courageous women bushed up against the boundaries which kept them on the outside. God shined light on them to enable them to emerge as butterflies; simultaneously delicate and powerful. They may have felt like caterpillars - easily squished by the Roman police, or a temple tax. However, they were transformed in the chrysalis of faith and flew from there to the ends of the earth.
This spring, Bay Ridge butterflies will fill themselves with enough food (they especially like Milkweed) and make their way to a mountain in Mexico. Quite a journey! Then they begin the journey back through their offspring - generation to generation to generation. These women have offered us this same courage. Their "tiny differences in input quickly became overwhelming differences in output." The metaphor of butterfly affects my resurrection faith because it is delicate power. What better way to practice the radical prophesy of Jesus. Love is a delicate power. I rest on Jesus because it is none other than the faith of the prophetic movement. Jesus fulfilled that which broke through the darkened boundaries - the ones that have kept us impaired. God's ubiquitous light finds us home.
(I am presently on a two week study leave. I have a meeting in Chicago on April 3 where I represent the ELCA on the Inter-Religious Organizing Initiative. It is a multi- denominational, multi-faith organizing effort to assist church leaders in building strong congregations through the art of faith-based community organizing. I will return with the full force of the butterfly as I delicately spread my wings.)
This is the web site for the story by James Hansen, Dear Sophie: the Butterfly Report: