Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church

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Rector's Corner

Imaginative Shock

  • The Rev. Dr. Bill Murray
  • Apr 24, 2019
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Imaginative shock. The Rev. Dr. Urban Holmes, past Dean of Sewanee’s School of Theology, wrote a book called Ministry and Imagination in which he carefully and technically laid out the ideas behind this term. For close to thirty pages he sets up and explores the idea in scientific detail. The first among those is Easter.

Resurrection and the total reversal of all we know is an “imaginative shock.” Said differently, the moment when we look around our world, our homes, our lives, and then realize that our definitions and ideas of how things work no longer applies is an “imaginative shock”. There are countless examples: Paul on the road to Damascus receives an imaginative shock and changes his life and his name; Abram receiving God’s promise, changing his life, and changing his name; even Moses standing before a burning bush and going from hermit shepherd to revolutionary leader. Those are merely the biblical examples. Martin Luther gave all of Europe an imaginative shock nailing 95 theses to a door in Whittenberg. Rosa Parks gave America an imaginative shock by refusing to sit at the back of the bus. Each of those moments can be carefully seen as before and after. Each is a moment where our beliefs must be re-examined.

Easter is just that moment. If we live into the mystery of a risen Lord, of one who conquers death, then we have to live with a sense of wonder. We cannot measure it, quantify it, or logically understand it. We have to engage our imagination, our hope, our wonder. As Holmes says beautifully, “to believe that the world is only as you think it is, is stupid. The world is a mysterious place.”

Easter calls us to once again see God’s world as one of gift and mystery. We are called, by Christ himself, to see the world through the eyes of a child: a place of hope, wonder, and imagination. Christians are meant to be a people of wonder, of hope, of sacred imagination. Only then can we begin to embrace this Easter celebration- an imaginative shock that shows us anything can happen.

Easter is a celebration that anything is possible through Christ, our Lord who conquerors death. Our call as Christians is to embrace that wonder, embrace that hope, and embrace that imaginative shock for all its glory and revolution! 60 years ago a group of parishioners started a school that has become the largest parish school in America- now imagine what we can do next. Imagine a church that can double her attendance on a Sunday in three years! Imagine becoming a people of faith who expect Christ to act powerfully in our world! Imagine a place where God’s kingdom is not merely in heaven but here among us! Imagine living in a world, where Easter is not just a day to worship but becomes the way we worship, the way we hope, the way we love.

Easter, my friends, is an imaginative shock and may this year be a renewal of that shocking wonder. Easter is not simply a day but a way of living that wakes us up again to all God gives us and throws open every door of possibility. Only when we open our hearts again to wonder, to hope, imagination can we truly engage Easter. Only then can we truly celebrate with that ancient Easter greeting, “Alleluia, Alleuia, Christ is Risen!”