Harrowing Of Hell
April 19, 2015

Resurrection: De-Cluttering Your Spirit

Preacher: The Rev. Kate Wesch

Do we have any Brandi Carlile fans this morning? For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure of discovering her, Brandi is a local singer-songwriter who has become very well known. She is my age and was born in Ravensdale, Washington, about 40 miles away from here. She has a new album out entitled The Firewatcher’s Daughter and on it there is a song called “Alibi” that I’d like to tell you about.

If Doyt were here in the pulpit, I’m sure he would attempt to sing it for you, but I will spare you. The first verse goes like this,

I done some bad, bad things
The kind you don’t bring up at confession
Somewhere in my life (woah)
I took the wrong direction
I swear on my soul
I didn’t want to hurt no one
But I got no way to justify
The things I done”

The song gets its name from the chorus, which says,

“If you’re good at telling lies
You could be my alibi
And I won’t have to atone for my sins.
If you’re good at telling lies
You could be my alibi
And I won’t have to fall for where I’ve been.”

Isn’t that why we often connect with music, with songs? The lyrics or the melody collide with our own feelings and emotions in a way that echoes our experiences. At one point or another, I imagine most of us feel like we took the wrong direction, not intending to hurt anyone, and not really able to justify the things we did. But life is a journey, and it’s about growth. It’s about moving forward, acknowledging our mistakes, our faults, being self-aware of our weaknesses and asking God to help us be better.

Honestly, I’m not sure I like the chorus of this song very much. It seems immature, taking the easy way out instead of confronting your shortcomings and mistakes—like we are often tempted to do. I know I am.

The chorus addresses an unknown entity, saying, “If you’re good at telling lies, you can be my alibi,” and then I won’t have to deal with it. I can sweep it under the rug. I won’t have to atone for my sins. I won’t have to take the fall or suffer the consequences of my actions. I know you’re probably thinking I should get rid of the song lyrics right now, but it’s so very human, so very honest. And the second verse is gold. She sings,

“You done some bad, bad things
The kind that don’t bear to mention
Something inside you died
Now you need some resurrection
If you don’t want to go down
Just like the setting sun
You got to find a way to reconcile
The things you done”

So, while the chorus kind of misses the point, this verse really nails it. We’ve all got skeletons in our closet, those things we don’t want to talk about or admit, the pieces of ourselves we’d rather just ignore. The lyrics say it’s something we don’t want to mention, something inside you died, “now you need some resurrection.”

Last week I asked the question, what weighs you down? The topic last week, if you weren’t here, was our relationship with our possessions. And I asked, do your possessions bog you down? Just as spring is a good time for a deep clean, a de-cluttering of the stuff in your life, the Fifty Days of Easter are an excellent time for a de-cluttering of your Spirit. These Fifty Days of Easter, we are going to continue talking about a de-cluttering of our Spirit, but this week, instead of talking about material possessions, we are going to shift our focus to the emotional and spiritual clutter that weighs us down.

I have encountered over and over again, people who are carrying heavy burdens, emotional and spiritual burdens that they have been lugging around for decades. It’s exhausting, isn’t it? Often, people come to me as a last resort. They are weary and don’t know where else to turn. They have tried counseling. They have tried self-medicating through a myriad of healthy and unhealthy distractions. They have tried prayer, even fasting, or journaling, you name it, they’ve tried it. And they are done.

I can’t lay down your burdens for you, but I can offer you a couple of suggestions on how you can lay down your own. Maybe you are listening closely. Please do because I am speaking to you. You are weary. Something inside you has died. You are desperately in need of some resurrection or at the very least a good de-cluttering of your spirit.

I recommend confession. We offer the rite of reconciliation, private confession, twice a year, on Ash Wednesday and again on Good Friday. You may notice the prayer of corporate confession is missing from our service right now and you are correct. That isn’t a mistake. We omit the prayer of confession during the Fifty Days of Easter because we are still celebrating Easter. But don’t worry, it will return on Trinity Sunday.

But, did you know, that at any time during the year, you can ask a priest to hear your private confession? You simply call or email and request it. We set it up in the Chapel just like we did it on Good Friday, Meet at a prearranged time, and have confession. You don’t have to wait an entire year. You can contact me next week.

Another priestly suggestion is something you can do anywhere, anytime. Do you remember those colorful slips of paper that were in the pews during Lent? We invited you to write your prayers on them and you put them in the prayer box. Before the Easter Vigil, Doyt and I prayed through all of those prayers and then burned them in the new fire at Easter. That was a way of symbolically turning your prayers over to God.

Both confession and burning written prayers are ways of handing over your burdens to God, getting things off your chest. When you have carried something around for so long, it is exhausting and there is nothing left to do with it except turn it over to God because God is strong enough to bear our burdens. THAT is some serious de-cluttering of your spirit.

When you can let go of the old junk you have been trudging around with for years, letting it weigh you down, and actually release it, handing it over to God and allowing God to set you free from it, whatever it is; guilt, hubris, pride, envy, greed, fear, isolation….fill in the blank…

THAT IS RESURRECTION. That is Easter. That is de-cluttering your spirit.

All three lessons from scripture this morning touch on this very theme. The other side of this idea of handing things over to God, acknowledging sin and turning it over, is FORGIVENESS.

We must be willing to not only repent, but to also forgive others AND forgive ourselves. Without forgiveness, there is no transformation. There is no lightening of the Spirit. There is no reconciliation. Brandi Carlile says it well in these lines of the second verse,

“If you don’t want to go down
Just like the setting sun
You got to find a way to reconcile
The things you done”

She’s right. We’ve got to find a way to reconcile the things we done with God, ourselves, and each other. The path to resurrection starts with confession and true repentance. That is what leads us to true conversion of the spirit and transformation of our souls and ultimately leads us into a new place of being.