Monday, April 27, 2020

May Newsletter

We Could Use a Mulligan...

I am not a golfer. I do have a set of clubs (that were my grandfather’s and are older than I am) but I have not swung one since Miriam was a baby. But for three years in the 1990’s I worked at a golf course and since I could golf for free I went periodically, usually with fellow staff who were much better than I. That is when I learned about mulligan’s – because they took pity on me at times and granted me one. If you don’t know, a mulligan is a second chance, a shot you can retake without having it count against you. With all that has happened in 2020 is there a chance we can get a mulligan for the year?

Or maybe we need a Bobby Ewing moment. Years ago, in the prime-time soap opera Dallas the show killed off Bobby Ewing. But it turns out Bobby was a very popular character and they needed a way to bring him back from the dead. So in the closing moments of the last episode of the season Bobby’s wife found someone in the shower and when her turned around there was Bobby. The plot device used to explain it was that the whole thing had been a terrible dream. It allowed the whole story-line to be wiped out. I suspect that there are some who would not mind finding our that 2020, with oil prices crashing, and a pandemic, and the recent shootings in Nova Scotia has just been a terrible dream.

A third image. IN the second act of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar Mary Magdalene and Peter sing the song “Could We Start Again Please?”. It falls just after Jesus has been taken to see Herod, and before his final trial in front of Pilate. The text includes the lines:
(I found the words here )
I'd been very hopeful so far
Now for the first time I think we're going wrong
Hurry up and tell me
This is just a dream or
Could we start again please?
I think you've made your point now
You've even gone a bit too far to get the message home
Before it gets too frightening
We ought to call a halt so
Could we start again please?
Mary and Peter think things have gone off the rails and maybe a restart would take them down a different path, one with less fear and destruction. This image seems to match the feelings I see expressed on Facebook some days.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but none of those things are going to happen. Unfortunately history is neither a merciful golf move nor a TV soap opera. This is not a dream. We do not get a do over. But we might be able to start again (please). But what exactly do we want that re-start to look like?

Daily I see people asking when things will get back to normal. Daily I see people insisting that we have to hurry up and “re-open” the world so we can get back to normal. I am going to suggest if all we envision as our re-start is a return to some semblance of what reality was back in January then we will have missed the boat.

That is the mistake Peter and Mary make in the song, they seem to envision a restart that looks very much like the first go-round. But of course that is not what the resurrection is. The story of Easter does allow a chance to “start again” but it is not a simple reboot. Resurrection is more of a new start. I suggest that this is what we, as people of faith, need to be hoping, looking, and working for after this period of disruption. Otherwise we may well have missed a great opportunity.

I think we are learning a lot in these weeks. We have been challenged to think about what is really essential for good health in our lives. We have also been challenged to think about what really is not essential. The government programs to provide financial support should make us ponder what adequate support for healthy lives are – and then to ask why some people do not get that support in a non-pandemic time.

I believe God is with us in all this. I believe God is always calling us to look for resurrection, not a reboot. I believe the life of resurrection means a life that is different, maybe not even recognizable at first glance (note that most people in the Easter stories do not recognize Jesus at first). I also believe it would be much easier, much more comfortable to look for a simple reboot, or to call for a mulligan, and go right back to the way it was before. But God does not usually call us to take the easier or more comfortable route.

What do you hope life will be like when we climb out of the pandemic? What do you hope life will look like when we re-build an Alberta economy threatened (perhaps as never before in the oil age) after the most recent price crash? Where do you think God may be leading us into resurrection? Right now is a time of disruption and grief for what we think is being lost. But after grief comes the hope of new life and we are a Resurrection People.