April 23, 2017 | Luke 24:36-48 | Rev. Wade Lifton –


If you ask people about a sacred experience, most people, religious and non religious, will talk about an experience in nature.


Richard Rohr, a Franciscan Priest and popular writer,

talks about two books of scripture.

The first book of scripture is the natural world,

which has existed for about 14 billion years ago.

The second book of scripture is the written Bible,

which has only existed for about 2,000 years.


He quotes writers over the centuries who have been overwhelmed

by the beauty of the world we live in.


We look up and we try to get our heads around the sky.

The big bang…evolution…

Evening looking at a pine cone and trying to get your head around it…

Or an ant hill…


Last week Nancy said that resurrection is not something we can get our heads around,

it’s something we experience in our souls.

Nature is a sacred gift that we can understand to a point,

but we talk about it as sacred because

first and foremost it is something we experience in our souls,

as well as our bodies and minds.


This morning I’m going to share a piece of writing by Parker Palmer to help us

pay attention to Bible of creation

and the chapter of spring that we are in.


But first let’s take a moment with the gospel story we just heard.


The first thing Jesus says to the disciples when he appears to them is,

Peace be with you.


They freak out, he calms them down, and then asks,

Have you got anything to eat?


Part of this is the writer trying to prove to us that Jesus is risen.

The disciples are doubting, maybe this is a ghost.

So Jesus says,Look, here are my hands and feet!  Touch me.  Got any food?

I’m really here, and I’m really hungry.


So we have this story where resurrection is as mind-blowing as the risen Christ appearing out of nowhere

And it’s as normal as sitting down to eat.


It’s mind-blowing and it’s normal.

Which we experience every year when the air gets warmer,

the sun stays out longer,

trees that look like brown sticks grow buds which turn into blossoms.

It’s mind-blowing and it’s normal.


This morning Parker Palmer is going to help us wonder about the story of spring,

with a piece from his book, Let Your Life Speak.




From ‘Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the the Voice of Vocation’

by Parker Palmer

Jossey-Bass, 2000


I will wax romantic about spring and its splendors in a moment,

but first there is a hard truth to be told:

before spring becomes beautiful,

it is plug ugly, nothing but mud and muck.

I have walked in the early spring through fields that will suck your boots off,

a world so wet and woeful it makes you yearn for the return of ice.

But in that muddy mess, the conditions for rebirth are being created.


I love the fact that the word humus

the decayed vegetable matter that feeds the roots of plants—

comes from the same root that gives rise to the word humility.

It is a blessed etymology.

It helps me understand that the humiliating events of life,

the events that leave “mud on my face” or that “make my name mud,”

may create the fertile soil in which something new can grow.


Though spring begins slowly and tentatively,

it grows with a tenacity that never fails to touch me.

The smallest and most tender shoots insist on having their way,

coming up through ground that looked, only a few weeks earlier, as if it would never grow anything again.  The crocuses and snowdrops do not bloom for long.  But their mere appearance, however brief, is always a harbinger of hope, and from those small beginnings, hope grows at a geometric rate.  The days get longer, the winds get warmer, and the world grows green again.



In my own life, as my winters segue into spring,

I find it not only hard to cope with mud

but also hard to credit the small harbingers of larger life to come,

hard to hope until the outcome is secure.

Spring teaches me to look more carefully for the green stems of possibility:

for the intuitive hunch that may turn into a larger insight,

for the glance or touch that may thaw a frozen relationship,

for the stranger’s act of kindness that makes the world seem hospitable again.


Late spring is potlatch time in the natural world,

a great giveaway of blooming beyond all necessity and reason—

done, it would appear, for no reason other than the sheer joy of it.

The gift of life, which seemed to be withdrawn in winter,

has been given once again,

and nature, rather than hoarding it, gives it all away.

There is another paradox here, known in all the wisdom traditions:

if you receive a gift, you keep it alive not by clinging to it but by passing it along.


Of course, the realists will tell us that nature’s abundance always has some practical function, and that may well be so.

But ever since I read Annie Dillard on the immoderation of trees, I have had to wonder.  She begins with a mental exercise to help us understand how superfluous in design an ordinary tree can be— taunting the realists, she writes:

“You are God.  You want to make a forest,

something to hold the soil, lock up solar energy, and give off oxygen.

Wouldn’t it be simpler just to rough in a slab of chemicals,

a green acre of goo?”


From autumn’s profligate seedings to the great spring giveaway,

nature teaches a steady lesson:

if we want to save our lives,

we cannot cling to them

but must spend them with abandon.

When we are obsessed with bottom lines and productivity,

with efficiency of time and motion,

with the rational relations of means and ends,

with projecting reasonable goals and making a beeline toward them,

it seems unlikely that our work will ever bear full fruit,

unlikely that we will ever know the fullness of spring in our lives.


And when did we start to misuse that beeline metaphor?

Just watch the bees work in the spring.

They flit all over the place,

flirting with both the flowers and their fates.

Obviously, the bees are practical and productive,

but no science can persuade me that they are not pleasuring themselves as well.


(end of Parker Palmer essay)




If we want to save our lives,

we cannot cling to them

but must spend them with abandon.



This is the story of the life that Jesus lived.

This is the Easter story,

told to us every year by the mind-blowing and normal season of spring.

Like the risen Christ, flowers appear in our midst,

as if to say, “Peace be with you.”


When a tree of blossoms is in full bloom,

It’s like someone writing an e-mail in all caps – PEACE BE WITH YOU


And like Jesus, the season of spring tells us,

I am only with you for a short time.

Pay attention.


Luke’s gospel says that Jesus opened the disciples’ minds

to understand the scriptures,

and then he says to them,

“You are witnesses of these things.”


We are witnesses.


We are witnesses

To the mud and the muck

in the world

and in our lives.


We are witnesses

To the buds and the blossoms.


We are witnesses to the natural world and the written scriptures

That offer us the peace of Christ

And tell us to spend our lives with abandon

for the sake of peace in the world.