It can happen to you
Last Monday morning, there was a cherry-red ‘68 Pontiac Firebird in the church parking lot, a beautiful sight to behold. Some forty years later, the lines of the car are still stylish and balanced, evoking an era of American muscle cars that’s never really been repeated. The Firebird was literally waiting for a parade to start, our parking lot being one of the staging areas for the one that celebrates Memorial Day in Fairfield. Many of its cousins waited along with it: Camaros, Mustangs, Chargers, Corvettes, GTOs, and Chevelles. All of them waxed and polished and gleaming, looking like they just came out of the showroom.
When they lined up and started to slowly roll out to the street, I think I had a kind of “Flannery O’Connor Revelation Moment,” because what came to mind was a parade of restored and redeemed souls—in all their shining glory—making their way to heaven. After all, it’s not likely that these forty and fifty year old cars have been kept in cotton and bubble-wrap all this time. They’ve had their share of crashes and blow-outs and rust spots and broken glass and part failure. Some have been abandoned in junkyards and left forgotten in old barns and garages. But someone, somewhere, took an interest and had a vision. Someone saw beneath what was worn and broken and re-imagined the original beauty, then slowly and lovingly brought each one of these cars to its brilliant state of existence.
Do you suppose the same thing will happen to us someday? The author of the second reading this weekend seems to think so. “Rejoice to the extent that you share the sufferings of Christ…….if you are insulted for the name of Christ, blessed are you….” Why? Because, he goes on, the Spirit of God rests upon you as well and when the glory of that God-in you is revealed, you will rejoice exultantly. This is a passage of post-Easter comfort and assurance. We are weeks past the glow of the Triduum celebrations and the aches and pains of daily Christian living are no doubt creeping in. The dings and dents and rust spots might well be weighing heavy and our dear ancestor wants us not to forget about the glory of God’s Spirit, a glory that will shine at the end of all time and also shines now if we learn to see it…..especially when it’s in our own backyards.
I think it’s safe to say that if this can happen to a ‘69 Camaro Z28 (bronze, with a 302 small block V8, 4 speed Hurst, and 4 barrel Holley), it can happen to you. God made you first and loves you more….