Meeting Christ in the Low Places

Did Easter Really Make Any Difference?

What difference does the resurrection make after the lilies have wilted, the choirs have finished singing Handel’s “Hallelujah”, and the predictably smaller congregation is no longer shouting, “Christ is risen indeed”?

I had the privilege of preaching at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., on the Sunday following Easter, traditionally called “Low Sunday.” Their theme for the Easter season is “Resilience“, which might be just what we need in these disturbing and challenging days.

Taking a cue from Garth Brooks, here’s the way I began.

A Word for “Low” Sunday

I have a colleague who told his congregation last Sunday that he has a recurring dream that everyone who was in worship on Easter would be in the same pews the following Sunday. He also confessed that it’s a dream that never seems to come true.  

When I was a young, associate pastor in my first appointment, I looked forward to Low Sunday because that was the day I got to preach! Which, come to think of it, is not unlike being retired! 

But what if Low Sunday is more than a liturgical label from a largely forgotten tradition?  What if Low Sunday is, in fact, where we spend most of our days? Every day is not Easter Sunday.  If it were, we’d burn the choirs out in no time! Most of us some of the time and some of us most of the time, live in the lower days, ordinary days, days that all too often seem too much like every other day.  

What if the angels at the tomb got it right when they told the women that they were looking for Jesus in the wrong place? They said the Risen Christ was not hanging around the empty tomb, but was already ahead of them, going back to Galilee, back there into the real world, with real people and real problems and if they wanted to see him, they needed to get moving.  

And what it that’s where we will see him, too?  

So – just to prove that I listened to Ginger’s Easter sermon – to whoever needs to hear this, I want to misquote Garth Brooks to say that to believe in the resurrection is to know that you’ve got friends in low places. 

To believe that Christ is risen is to believe that he walks with us in the low places, the ordinary places, and that if we keep our eyes open, we’ll find him there and in finding him, we will find resurrection resilience for the exhausting and exhilarating life to which he calls us. 

I went on to suggest some practical ways we can find “Resurrection Resilience” in the “low” places: Remember you are not alone. Retell the story. Rejoice in hope. You can watch or listen to the sermon here.

I wish everything had changed on Easter Sunday. I wish that the unmitigated suffering of the war in Ukraine, the persistent systemic racism in our culture that we try to deny, the continuing COVID contagion that is still very much with us, and the deep divisions that are tearing us apart, had all be resolved when the earth quaked and God broke Jesus out of the tomb. But they are still here. And so are we. And so is the presence of Christ, the risen Lord, who weeps over our brokenness and will walk with us to show us the way to new life.

My you find Resurrection Resilience in all the low places of your life!

Grace and peace,

Jim

I deal with this overall theme in a more practical way in the book, Extraordinary Ministry in Ordinary Time.

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3 thoughts on “Meeting Christ in the Low Places

  1. So good, Jim, and so true! Sandy

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. MIchael Shirley May 2, 2022 — 12:18 pm

    Jim, I read your comments about Low Sunday and navigated to the Foundry Site and listened to your “Low Sunday” sermon. I loved the way you introduced your them; probably because I joined you in being one of thousands of retired pastors and associates who spoke in churches on the Sunday after Easter. Also I’ve lived a significant part of my life and ministry in what felt like low places. I’m thankful for the call to “open our eyes” to the Christ who is with us there. Also I appreciated your short commentary on Revelation. “Revelation” is the theme of our Disciple Fast Track Group this coming week. I had never thought of the connection to Star Wars. I’m sure your name will come up at our group! Bless you, Mike Shirley

    PS: The Book of Joy made a real impact on me – so much so that I used it as a primary source for a Saturday Night session in a church a few years ago! A favorite quote from the book: Dalia Lama: “If you have a problem and you can do something about it, do it! But if you can’t do anything about it, why worry about it?!” (My memory of his words)

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    1. Mike: Thanks for your response. Glad it connected with your experience. When you work the “Star Wars” comparisons, you’ll find some good stuff, but particularly the way we know who is going to win in the end, but it’s a difficult and dangerous journey to get there!

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