We've all had a pair of favorite bedroom slippers, an old shirt or blouse, a terry bathrobe, a cap, a pair of shoes or other article of clothing that became our favorite. Something we wore every chance we got long after our prized and comfortable item would have been rejected by any reputable second hand store.
We fall in love with the comfort of the familiar from early childhood, I suppose actually, from before we're born. Whooshing sounds remind babies of the blood flow in the womb, swaddling clothes cuddle them with security. Sunday mornings after masses, there is a silent and often unnoticed procession of worn-out stuffed animals, threadbare blankets and other precious commodities clutched tightly by our youngest churchgoers, their tickets for passage into the strange and wonderful world of church.
I don't remember if I toted a childhood security talisman around, but I still love my softest flannel shirts, my stonewashed jeans and prefer my oldest, threadbare pillow cases over a crisp, thick one anynight.
Young or old, the Linus in each of us eventually must surrender an ancient treasure. We either reluctantly give it up, or a parent or spouse cajoles it away from us. Sometimes our treasure mysteriously goes missing, a well meaning intervention by someone else for our own good (and to spare them from embarassment!)
Just as Jesus burst from his tomb, the Good News of the Gospel will burst tired wineskins and can't be grafted onto a threadbare spirituality. It claims us entirely.
Far worse than a pair of holey jeans is comfortable neglect of prayer, tenaciously held prejudice, addictive consumerism or customary indifference to the suffering of others. Are we willing to give them up? It's not likely these will simply go missing, we've got some stretching and bursting to do. At first, we don't need a carefully thought out plan to abandon a sinful attachment. We need only ask Jesus for the willingness to do so. This is a sincere prayer we can make before we feel like change, even in our comfortable slippers.
Sculpture by Paul Granlund, Resurrection II in St. Mark's Lutheran Cathedral, Minneapolis, MN. This image from Imaging the Word, Volume I, Kenneth T. Lawrence, editor, United Church Press: Cleveland, OH, 1994. Visit the Cathedral site here: Resurrection II by Granlund