Monday, August 29, 2011
Raising the Dead, Waking the Sleepers
by Heather Kramer
In the closing worship of Sing a New Song, we heard from General Secretary of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women, M. Garlinda Burton, about the future of the church, the deceptions we have believed, and the hope we find in Christ's promise of the renewal of the church. In Matthew we hear the story of Jesus breathing new life into the dying daughter of the synagogue leader. Jesus walks into the room, sweeps away the mourners, and takes the little girl by the hand, saying "she is not dead, but sleeping!" She gets up, and the story of Jesus' power spreads.
Some people argue that our church is dying, if she isn't dead already. We're wearing the mourning clothes, singing the mourning songs, waiting for the final death knell. She is sleeping, maybe dying. We've left Wesley's example of on-the-ground, with-the-people ministry and locked ourselves away in ivory tombs- sorry, towers- of holiness. We sing mourning songs of nostalgia rather than new songs of the power of the Holy Spirit and await our final demise.
But Jesus is waiting to sweep into the room, shoo out the mourners, and wake our sleeping church. He invites us to put off our mourning clothes and take up the task of healing and rebuilding, to sing new songs of life and love that are offered to all. We are all children of God, we are all the church, and we are all a part of God's divine plan for the reconciling of the world.
Our church may be dying. She may be asleep. But she can throw off her burial shroud, we can throw off our mourning sackcloth, and she can rise. She can spread the power and the story of a healing, renewing, and loving Christ, and she can change the world.
Heather Kramer is a second year Masters of Divinity and Masters of Theological Studies student at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC., where she is also the youth minister at Dumbarton United Methodist Church and an intern at the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA). In her free time (ha!) she tries to read, work for justice, and blogs at The Story I Find Myself In.