Scripture | John 20:1-18 | Colossians 3:1-17
I’d like to introduce you to an idea that is gaining popularity and traction in cities around the US, and even more broadly across the world.
Clearly, I don’t mean Gorilla as in the ape, but Guerrilla as in Guerrilla warfare,
Though of course, a movement called “Guerrilla Gardening” has nothing to do with War.
Guerrilla gardening is this movement of people who notice an abandoned piece of land in their community that has been neglected by its owner. They notice it day after day falling into further decay until they decide, through the subversive act of Gardening… that they will act to make this place beautiful.
They find forgotten places
sometimes as small as a patch of dirt on a street corner
and sometimes as big as an abandoned lot.
Places that are overlooked and ugly.
Places that we would all agree are empty of life, completely worthless,
Places that are dead and they revive them.
They come undercover of darkness,
Scattering fresh soil and flower seeds, seeds that grow color, and fragrance and beauty.
They come when no one is watching, Planting vegetables and fruit for people in the community to share.
This abandoned and forgotten piece of God’s creation is transformed,
Turned into a place that is full of life,
Turned into a place that starts to get noticed a place that adds value to its surrounding.
These guerrilla gardeners have taken renewal as their calling, and in their eyes, there is no place that is too far removed from redemption.
In a weedy abandoned lot, surrounded by chain link fence… They see a blank canvas where beauty can grow. In a forgotten patch of dirt, a place that is designed to be overlooked and driven past… they see hope and opportunity.
In a space that others drive by, they see a place that with some work, and love... can have meaning, can have a purpose. A place that can produce food to share. A place that can make their community a better place and in some ways our world a better place.
Perhaps the most important tool in the tool belt of the guerilla gardener is this thing called a “seed bomb.” I actually have one here. It's this small, portable, dried up globe of dirt, that has seeds mixed into it… and also has everything a seed needs to grow.
It's designed to be throwable, to be tossed over a fence, or even out of the window of a car. Wherever a seed bomb is thrown, once it rains, the seeds will germinate and grow.
So, wherever a guerrilla gardener may find themselves as they go about their day… if they happen to discover a place that looks abandoned or neglected, they are equipped. All they have to do is throw a seed bomb... and in this small act of gardening rebellion, they know that this neglected place will be just little more beautiful, and little more redeemed, a little more holy, a little more loved.
You see… redemption, wherever it takes place is an act of subversion.
In a world whose dominant message for forgotten places is “it’s not worth the time”
Redemption is an act of subversion.
In a world whose dominant message for people who are suffering is “they got themselves into that situation they can get themselves out”
Redemption is an act of defiance
Redemption says there is nothing so lost that it can’t be brought back into the fullness of life!
Redemption says that nothing is a waste, but that everything can be renewed.
THIS is how God works.
And on this Easter Day, with the story Christ’s resurrection on our hearts, we know this is how God works.
Going against the very way of the world, underground, and behind the scenes…
God moves into the most broken places, into the most hopeless situations, among the most lost people, and there God plants beauty, God plants purpose. It is there that God redeems.
And God doesn’t do this alone. God uses us!
Our lives are wrapped up in what God does on Easter. Our reading from Colossians tells us this: When God brings new life to Christ, even in the depths of the tomb, God is declaring that this is what God intends for the world.
In our baptism we are stripped of the old clothes of our earthly ways and we are clothed in Christ-like nature.
In our baptism, we die to our old earthly self, and we are given a completely new identity …in the resurrected Christ. Our lives are intertwined with Christ’s. Hidden within the resurrected Christ.
When Christ was resurrected, we are resurrected with him… We are redeemed with him.
And as people who have been redeemed we are called to let this change everything about who we are and how we live.
We need to start living as though we have been redeemed.
Scripture says we do this by putting on a new Christ like nature.
We put on compassion, kindness. Put on humility, gentleness, patience.
We live as though we’re redeemed by being tolerant, being forgiving, being grateful
And above all else we do this by putting on love.
Its as though these Christ-like ways of living are the seed bombs we carry everywhere we go.
They are like little tiny packets of redemption, that we have in our tool belt.
Each day we carry these seeds of redemption in our hands
And we are equipped, and enabled with everything we need to renew and restore God’s world.
If we happen to come cross a person who feels abandoned and forgotten, throw a few seed bombs of kindness and compassion there, and know that that small act will grow into something beautiful.
If you notice brokenness and division in your community? Hurl some forgiveness and love over those fences! Sow some gratitude in that rocky soil. … and know that all this work, all of this daily effort is a tiny revolution!
Since we have died and have risen with Christ.. We are agents of Christ’s resurrection.
We are called to make a practice of redemption. To work with God by bringing redemption to the people and places that seem most forgotten, the people and places that our world sees as unredeemable.
If we are to truly follow Christ.
If we are to truly identify ourselves with the risen Christ. Then resurrection is our calling.
To see hope and possibility where the world sees worthlessness…
To see potential where the world sees hopelessness
And not only see hope and see possibility, but to create it.
Our calling is to join God in redeeming creation’s brokenness.
Renewing it with beauty, Renewing it with love.
Make renewal and resurrection a daily practice!
This is our work!
It is our work as Easter people… To go where there is no life, to go where there is no hope
and little by little. Seed by seed.
Through small subversive acts of love and redemption.
Show the world how new life in the risen Christ looks.