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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Seven Stanzas for Easter

Seven Stanzas for Easter

Seven Stanzas at Easter

Make no mistake: if He rose at all
it was as His body;
if the cells' dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit,
the amino acids rekindle,
the Church will fall.

It was not as flowers,
each soft spring recurrent;
it was not as His Spirit in the mouths and fuddled eyes of the
eleven apostles;
it was as His flesh: ours.

The same hinged thumbs and toes,
the same valved heart
that---pierced---died, withered, paused, and then regathered
out of enduring might
new strength to enclose.

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

The stone is rolled back, not papier-mache,
not a stone in a story,
but the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
time will eclipse for each of us
the wide light of day.

And if we will have an angel at the tomb,
make it a real angel,
weighty with Max Planck's quanta, vivid with hair, opaque in
the dawn light, robed in real linen
spun on a definite loom.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are embarrassed
by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.

--Written by John Updike for the 1960 Arts Festival
at Clifton Lutheran Church,
Marblehead, Massachusetts (Norman D. Kretzmann, Pastor).

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The Rev. Norman D Kretzmann

4300 West River Parkway-Apt. 606

Minneapolis, MN 55406

Dear Pastor Kretzmann,

Were it not for the internet, I doubt if I would
know that you were Pastor at Clifton Lutheran back in 1960.
Were it not for my Dad (Rev. Conrad J. Buehler) having
been a close friend of Alvin Rogness at Luther Seminary,
I doubt if I would have gone to Harvard Divinity School.
[I didn’t want any kind of “pull” to contaminate ministry.]
Were it not for HDS, I doubt I would have read John Updike’s
“Sevcn Stanzas for Easter,” in 1970 when it finally reached me.
Were it not for that poem (and writings of Philip Hefner),
I doubt if I would have been so absorbed in the Science/Theology
dialogue that has shaped my ministry and teaching ever since my
ordination in 1973. Everything under the sun--above it all the
Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ--has happened for a reason.

And so at this joyful Eastertide, when churches
throughout the land sprout lilies and sing Bach, I thank God
for you and your ministry among so many people near and far,
known and unknown.

And I wish you a very blessed and comforting Easter season!

Peace in Christ,

Dave Buehler

Rev. Dave Buehler

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