I really love sermon prep—so many interesting ideas, and so much to learn, every time I look at a familiar passage of scripture one more time. For this Sunday, I was struck once more by the doubt of the disciples at the resurrection, and the fact that it was after Jesus was crucified when all their deepest hopes had been shattered that they came to embrace his message, mission, and life.
I struggle with practicing resurrection because in times of trial—times when things have gone wrong and I can’t see how they will be righted—I don’t want to be a fool or a Pollyanna. This means that I am surprised, over and over, when there is resurrection in my life and the life of others: when unexpected new life grows from ruins that have destroyed previous hope. This doesn’t mean that sadness and grief don’t continue; they often will. But they will change.
I wanted to share the entirety of the poem I quoted from on Sunday. It is by Wendell Berry (I gave a mistaken attribution to WS Merwin, a poet also worth looking up), because it has such a comprehensive and striking list of suggestions for practicing resurrection. I’ve taken the liberty to highlight some of my favorite passages about practicing resurrection. Enjoy—and let me know other ideas you have for this holy practice.
Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
by Wendell Berry
Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
“Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” from The Country of Marriage, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. 1973. Accessed 18 April, 2022 from https://bookpeopleblog.com/2011/04/05/poem-of-the-day-manifesto-the-mad-farmer-liberation-front/.
Rev. Dr. Jennifer Oldstone-Moore, Rector