“The extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. After the one extravagant gesture of creation in the first place, the universe has continued to deal exclusively in extravagances, flinging intricacies and colossi down eons of emptiness, heaping profusions on profligacies with ever fresh vigor. The whole show has been on fire from the word go!” — Annie Dillard
It was a great joy to be with so many of our congregation for our Easter services this past Sunday! Easter has always been one of my favorite services – for a few reasons, not the least of which because of its mandate for joy and celebration. Mostly, as I said in my Easter sermon, I appreciate the fact that Easter doesn’t try to make everything “all better” but rather says, in spite of it all, I still have joy! And, nothing – not even the worst of everything – can take away my celebrating, grateful, awe-struck heart!
Easter is traditionally, and certainly was this year for our community, an extravagant celebration of hope in the face of hopelessness, gratitude in the face of grief, and joy in the face of loss. And yet, the “work of Easter” – like the “work of Christmas” acknowledged in the Howard Thurman poem with that title, is not about a single day, but rather an orientation of the everyday. The question Easter asks of us is how we will live out an extravagant joy and goodwill in our real lives, in real time?
It’s this question that makes me so grateful for our theme for the month of April – “Creation,” and what does it mean to be a people of creation? Our month invites us not just to explore our relationship with creation itself (the earth, the universe, the natural world…this is the practice of our Climate Justice month), but also how we are co-creators in the midst of all of this life. How are we a part of the ongoing “big bang” of our world, even of our little part of the world? How are we co-creating more and more life?
As we move into this new month, I wonder how we might all step up our extravagant gestures – and how we might join forces to “be on fire” for those things we care most deeply about? And by this I don’t mean: what new project might we take on, or what new program? But rather, how might we cultivate the discipline and the commitment in ourselves such that we live our lives as forces of a new creation? In the everyday. How can we be more extravagant in our YES to life and love in our jobs, in our homes, in our neighborhoods, and in our church community?
Once we have witnessed the beauty of life’s great creation, what other response is there than to give back? The beauty is so extravagant, how can our response be anything less?*
In our congregation, our call is to practice and embody the vision of the world we seek to create – which means that we are invited to share our extravagant gestures and joyous response to all the many gifts through participating in our partnership both within and beyond our congregation. We are at the time of year where we are beginning to seek out new leaders and participants in our shared journey – I hope you’ll take a look at this week’s blog post to see if there is something there that may be a way you can extravagantly share your many gifts.
Ultimately these extravagant gestures of creation are a practice of gratitude. We give in response to all that we have been given. We give because our hearts overflow with all these gifts and we cannot help but respond. We give because we are so overcome by joy we feel compelled to pass it on, and to be a part of offering more and more abundant life. And, we give recognizing that what we have is enough, more than enough, and we can take nothing for granted. It’s all a gift. So we just say thank you, and keep on giving – extravagantly.