I'm sure it has become abundantly clear that I am attracted to succint and provocative phrases. When they fly through my consciousness, they are like stunningly beautiful birds that I try to savor. The unfortunate part is that they are frequently gone before I have the chance to lock them in my memory. My only hope is to lunge for a piece of scrap paper so that I can go back to study it later, turn it around, and explore its deeper meaning.
Such was the case again when we attended Easter Sunday services in Pittsburgh with our daughter this last weekend. The sermon was delivered by Dr. Craig Barnes and was titled "Leaving the Dead." The image was of how startling it must have been when the tomb was empty three days after Christ's crucifixion. "But,..." he said. "But,..." "But,..." Dr. Barnes noted that frequently the Bible uses "But,..." as a sacred intrusion into our conventional or previous way of seeing our world. This sacred instrusion provided the opportunity to cease seeing our lives as a horizontal succession of events, but, instead as a vertical experience of recognizing that we are not really in control of any of our experiences. This vertical experience allows us to realize that we live our lives only as a gift, informed by an unfolding awareness of who we are and shaped by the role God intends for us to play.
I know that this post is theologically based but, regardless of your religious views, it may well deserve your consideration. If you are intrigued by this snippit of an explanation, you really should check the Shadyside Presbyterian Church sermon archives for a full copy of Dr. Barnes remarks. Suffice it to say, living a life punctuated by "But,..." is a bit unsettling but as I have attempted to understand it, this punctuation may just be the kind of sacred intrusion that keeps us alive and connected to our being.