There's A Stone In My Basket

Christ is risen from the dead! 
Trampling down death by death! 
And upon those in the tombs, 
Bestowing life.  Amen. 

“When I have something difficult to discuss, I like to say, “I have a stone in my basket,” Kathy told me.  “And,” she added, “If I don’t tell you about the stone in my basket, chances are good I might start throwing my stones at others whether I want to or not.”

Kathy’s husband had recently joined the Episcopal church and would not stop talking about how much he loved it.  He wanted Kathy to join.  The problem was, Kathy was not sure.   

Kathy went on to tell me about her struggle in her former church.  She had doubts and they had answers for her.  Answers that she found disappointing—women were not permitted in her tradition to preach and preside at the Eucharist.   She left the church of her childhood angry.  She had a stone in her basket.  

I sat with her in her pain as I have so many women who have been rejected from leadership, disenfranchised from the face of God.  More than anything, Kathy wanted to know if her questions would be welcome.   She wanted to know that she could doubt, she wanted to know that if she did a have stone in her basket, was she free to express her sadness, her angry and her loss.    She told story after story of painful moments.  

As our time drew to a close, I said to Kathy, “On behalf of the many priests and other church leaders that have disappointed you, I want to say  that I am deeply sorry for your pain that was caused.”     
My words took her by surprise as tears formed in her eyes.  

Kathy began to attend church with her husband.  Reluctantly at first but over time, she began to see that the stone in her basket was gone. She had come out of her tomb.  She had found a place to practice her faith.  

And I learned to love her wisdom and this wonderful image: I have a stone in my basket.  

What are we called to do when we have a stone in our basket?    Pain in our heart?   Kathy was right—if we allow ourselves to accumulate too many stones in our basket, we may begin to throw them at someone.  Those who do not transform their pain are sure to transmit it.  

One of the primary practices of resurrection is reconciliation.  The church’s primary ministry is one of practicing reconciliation.   

The work of reconciliation is not easy.  Before we can have reconciliation, there had to be conciliation to begin with—a relationship that was built on safety and trust.  If there was no safety or trust to begin with then there can be no reconciliation.  For reconciliation is all about repairing and restoring trust.    I want say a word about reconciliation and I promise I will turn to this at another point in Easter: Reconciliation is different from forgiveness.    Kathy couldn’t return to the church of her origin and ask for reconciliation—that was not possible as they have not reversed their position on women.  It was, therefore, not safe.  

Reconciliation invites the injured party to name and share their wound.  Like Jesus, when we come to the process of reconciling with someone else, it is necessary that we have a measure of safety when we share our woundedness—our stones in the basket. 

 Like Jesus who comes and stands amongst his friends and shows his woundedness, we need to have peace first.   When we choose reconciliation, we are inviting people, as Jesus did, to poke around our wounds. That’s a vulnerable place.  I love the line we had in Acts last week—Jesus did not show his resurrected self to all but to some.  Jesus showed himself to those whom he was safe with.  

The one with the stone in their basket, names what they are holding—they name the stones as a way of working toward setting them down.   The person receiving this information whether they are the ones who injured, or simply the one listening, is invited to name what they have heard and to express remorse for what has come before.   In reconciliation, we are invited to make repairs and reform trust.     While forgiveness is a part of reconciliation, reconciliation is not ALWAYS a part of forgiveness.  Later in Easter, we will talk about forgiveness as a Resurrection practice.  For now, let’s stick with Reconciliation. 

Reconciliation is a resurrection practice—it is a way of experiencing new life.  Reconciliation is a practice that invites us to accountability and honesty.  This is where I messed up.  This is where I will do better now that I know better.   The injured person can now set down their stone.  Their basket is empty.  

 The Body of Christ— that is who we are as church calls Easter the great 50 days.  Or as I have said before, there are only two seasons in the church year—Easter and Easter is coming.  The reason this season is that significant is we are invited into a new way of being. We are invited into practicing resurrection, of living life in new ways, of sparking our collective Christ imagination of what the nonviolent third way of Christ living looks like for us.  

Our world is awash in violence and division- of pain that has been transmitted.  There are very few stories that invite us to imagine something different from throwing stones at each other and transmitting pain. The ministry of reconciliation as a practice toward knowing resurrection is an invitation into that work of transforming our pain.   

Resurrection is not a solo act!  We rise together!  Today, we are baptizing two little ones into this life of dying and rising,  together with us into the practice of resurrection. They cannot live their life as Christ followers alone and neither can we.  We need each other -- to know how to live this life of resurrection—like Kathy who taught me the wonderful metaphor of the stone in the basket. 

The world cannot and will not teach us how to do this resurrection practice.  The only place to practice our faith is in the gym of our souls—church.     

And like any gym—guess what we need to do?    Come back! 

 Come back time and time again to practice and strengthen those communal muscles in the Body of Christ.   The only way to live resurrection is to practice it.   Practice reconciliation, practice  setting down the stones in our baskets, practice coming out of our tombs, practice transforming our pain rather than transmitting it.    

This is the kingdom of God work that we are called to, beloved. This is one of the ways we practice resurrection.   We are on our way to the greatest act of empowerment that there is:  Our birth at Pentecost.   We take up resurrection in these great 50 days getting ready to be birthed by the gift of the Holy Spirit.  

Christ is risen from the dead!  
Trampling down death by death!
And upon those in the tombs
bestowing life.