Pastor Henry's Memo

Category: Eastertide 2020

Wednesday, May 27

Pastor's Memo...

Not long ago I was buying a Diet-Pepsi at the gas station.  With the pandemic, there were strict instructions on where one should stand while waiting for one's turn to approach the cashier.  The floor of this establishment has arrows and "Xs" on the floor for the efficient and safe movement of human traffic.  Present was an older woman who looked confused.  Let's just say, she didn't know where to stand nor did she know what place in line she was.  I was behind her with my re-fill.  She says out loud: "Who's next?  I don't know who's next."  Being the smart alack that I am, from behind her I pipe up and say: "You must be; after all you're a treasure."  She looks at me with a quizzical expression on her face.  I continue: "You're standing on the 'X' and 'X' marks the spot.  You must be the hidden treasure.  You're next."  She sort of smiles an almost smile and pays for her bottled fruit drink.  She heads for the door as I pay for my re-fill.  She stops at the door and waits.  She's not wearing a mask, but I am.  She begins to tell me she's not had a good day.  She can't get in to see her mother in the nursing home in Goshen, she's had her hours cut back at work, and she's still waiting for her (expletive deleted) check from Donald Trump.  A few more distasteful descriptives directed at The Donald flow almost without effort from her lips and I bite my tongue.  I don't know who she is; but I know who I am.  I'm Calvary's pastor under the immediate supervision of Bishop Trimble's conference superintendent.  I listen and I nod and I smile, after a fashion, as she continues her diatribe about the President, her job, and the rest of her life.  She steps out to the parking lot.  The last thing I said to her was "You must be the hidden treasure.  You're next."  As she starts to get in her car, she turns, looks at me, and says with a sigh that was hardly a whisper: "Nobody ever told me I was a treasure before."  That's when I knew biting my tongue through the length and breadth of her revilement of Trump and her lament concerning her mother and the economic hardship she was continuing to endure was God's doing.  Keeping me silent while she vented became a blessing for me, perhaps for both of us.  The proof of it were the tears in her eyes as she climbed into her car and drove south on Indiana State Road 13.  



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Message for Ascension Sunday, May 24

TEXTS: 

    PSALM 47

    ACTS 1:10-11

    LUKE 24:44-53

     These texts will not match what is listed for the 7th Sunday after Easter because this Sunday, the 24th of May is Ascension Sunday.  It is the day when the entire church celebrates Jesus rising into heaven where he, according to the Apostles' Creed, "is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead." 

     Quite properly, Jesus' ascension occurred on Thursday, the 21st, the 40th day of Easter.  There's a kind of Holy Symmetry to the 40 days of Lent then the 40 days to the Ascension.  Most United Methodists don't find themselves gathering on that specific Thursday to celebrate Jesus rising to heaven, so we delay this glory until the following Sunday (as if humans had that kind of power.)

     This event is so significant, St; Luke records it twice; first, in our Gospel for the day and secondly, in the first verses of Acts.  According to St; Luke, Jesus rises from the tomb, walks about for 40 days, and rises into heaven.  Make no mistake about this Jesus of Nazareth: he's very special.

     As he finishes eating some broiled fish, showing his disciples he is a flesh and blood reality, Jesus recounts his ministry with them: the words he spoke concerning his being reveled in the Hebrew scriptures; how they must be fulfilled as proof to all of his being the Son of the Living God.  

     In a kind of subtle way, Jesus is saying, "If you don't believe me, believe your scriptures; believe what Moses said and what is written in the prophets and the psalms."  At the very last of his earthly ministry, Jesus is still teaching and revealing the truth about what God wants all of the human family to know.

     Jesus promises the Holy Spirit and encourages them to wait for it.  Receive it with courage, because they will need it for the days that follow.  What's more, Jesus empowers them by that Holy Spirit to do a kind of ministry that only the Church can perform and embody in its living: preach repentance and forgiveness in His name to all the nations across the world.  

     Jesus says for them to begin in Jerusalem and by that I take it Jesus means in the Temple.  The promise of salvation that comes from the Jews, begins with the Jews, and it spreads out like a wave to all the nations.  Even after having suffered shame and death and the tomb, the loving goodness of God is eternally manifest in the Chosen People.

     In Acts we have the record of how Jesus has embodied in his living the promises of God for our benefit.  He encourages them to wait for their empowerment and their spiritual baptism by the Holy Spirit.  That baptismal power comes upon them so they can do the repentance and the forgiveness that is their ministry in his physical absence.  

     Once again, Jesus reminds them their Jewish faith and traditions and covenants are not made void by the new thing he has done.  When they ask him about when he will restore the kingdom of Israel, he replies a bit obliquely;" It's not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority."  

     The restoration of the Kingdom of Israel has been fixed in God's eternity.  It has not been replaced with a different kingdom.  It has not been relegated to a hoped-for memory.  Its time and season God has determined.  In the meantime, teach and tell and bestow peace and forgive sin and wait for the God of your salvation to keep all the ancient promises.

     On Ascension Sunday, in the Year of Our Lord, 2020, what more glorious message could the world receive than a resurrected Jesus ascending into heaven to the voices of angels promising he will come again?  Amen



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Message for Sunday, May 17

TEXTS: 

EZEKIEL 34: 1-7

JOHN 14: 15-21

     When our lives become dis-arranged (if you know what I mean) we may be uncomfortable or anxious or vexed.  Our usual daily patterns don't seem to fit anymore.  Our customary rhythms for making it through the day don't feel natural anymore.

     These last many weeks of compulsory isolation have altered our lives.  Whatever we did automatically before has now been noticed because we must think about everything we decide to do when we leave our place of quarantine.

     Is this trip necessary?  Is it otherwise permitted?  Must I wear a mask?  Hand sanitizer?  Can I make it home before needing a restroom?  The new kind of thinking we must at least consider has changed all sorts of patterns.  

     Last week Jesus reminded us not to let our hearts be troubled.  He invited us to continue to believe in God and in him and to trust him to be our Good Shepherd.  He promised us a room in God's heavenly inn and what's more, he prepares that room for us.

     This week his words to us are again a kind of invitation.  Love me and keep my commandments.  Simple.  Direct.  Unambiguous.  He promised us a room for our eternal rest in God's abode.  Now he promises us a counselor; an advocate.  This promise is also eternal.  The Holy Spirit will come and be with us as we live and will continue to be with us until we reside in that specially prepared room.  

     Jesus promises never to leave us.  Never!  Not in this lifetime nor in the eternity that awaits us in the Kingdom of God.  Verse 18 reads:" I will not leave you desolate."  Another translations reads: "I will not leave you comfortless."  The Greek word here is "orphanos."  It means "bereft of a father or of parents.'  In other words, as orphans.  Jesus promises us we will not be orphans in this life. 

     "I will not leave you 'orphanos.'"  This Jesus promise, I remind you, is made to the disciples on Thursday just hours before his betrayal and all that follows.  We are never alone while Jesus lives.  Never!  Therefore, his invitation to love and keep the commandments suggests we are not without the strength and wherewithal to do just that.

   Nearly half a century ago Methodist theologian and scholar The Reverend Albert Outler was quoted in the Christian Century answering this question: How has your mind changed about ministry or theology or your faith in your lifetime?  Dr. Outler's answer was both simple and profound.  He said: "I always preached 'You've GOT to love.'  Now I preach 'You GET to love.'  Such is the power of God's love for us in Christ Jesus."

     Being in the presence of a risen savior forever and protected for all eternity by a loving God and guided by The Spirit of Truth...how more secure could we be?  In the living presence of the Holy Trinity, we are free to love and keep the commandments without fear; without shame; without hesitation.  We have nothing to lose to live this way.  Amen



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Wednesday, May 6, Sloth!

Our COVID-19 pandemic has been complicating our schedules in ways we could hardly have imagined.  Work, entertainment, travel, school, leisure, shopping, social, worship...nothing seems to fit like it used to.  We've adjusted and re-arranged and deleted.  We've chosen new patterns and found new rhythms for our days and weeks and months.  I hope the next time range (years, then decades) doesn't come into play.  That would mean monumental shifts in everything we do. That kind of extended time frame may even cause adjustments to be noticeable in who we are.  What is a calendar year without baseball and high school sports and tail-gating?   What about concerts and yard sales and foreign vacations?  Weddings and funerals are not the same.  What we have come to expect as regular and natural is being re-defined.  When will it ever be again what we once knew so well?  I have no idea.  And whatever is offered as a picture of that future is only guesswork.  In the mean time, we can be patient.  We can continue to be civil with each other.  We can guard against what the Greeks called "acedia."  It means "without care."  Apathy, boredom, listlessness.  These are traps into which humans have fallen across the centuries.  The early Church likened acedia to sloth, the fourth Deadly Sin.  It's traditionally situated between wrath (#3) and greed (5th).  Isn't it grand to know this particular human frailty sits smack dad in the middle of the deadly pack?  My word of caution to all of my readers on this first Wednesday of the month, strive to practice this sin less often and aspire to one lower on the list; like gluttony or lust.  On second thought, aspire to practice one of the Seven Virtues.  I may list them next Wednesday.  



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Shepherd Sunday, May 3

TEXTS:  EZEKIEL 34:7-16

                PSALM 23

                JOHN 10:1-10

     For many more decades than I can determine, the 3rd Sunday of Easter is known as Shepherd Sunday.  The traditionally appointed texts include John 10:1-10 and the 23rd Psalm.  It being the Easter season, a reading from the Book of Acts is substituted in place of a reading from the Hebrew Scriptures.  That decision, alas, is regrettable, if not, shameful.

     Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  His self-identification as such is plainly explicit in John's Gospel, if only we would read the next eight verses of his 10th chapter.  Why those verses are not included is also nearly shameless.  I will add them and make this a Shepherd's Sunday with texts that reveal why it is so named.

     Very briefly the prophet Ezekiel is writing to a community of Jews who no longer live in the Promised Land.  They are either already in Babylonian exile or are on their way.  For them, their future is bleak.  And they know it.  What's more, the shepherds God ordained to care for the Jewish people have made a hash of their duties and are being rebuked mercilessly.  And they deserve every assaulting word God utters against them. 

     They do not follow God's word; they do not feed or gather or protect the flock.  They care only for themselves.  Therefore, God will become the shepherd of Israel and God will step forward and do all that is good for his scattered flock.  

     Which brings us to the 23rd Psalm.  "The Lord is my shepherd."  What more comforting words can be known by a Jew?  Or declared to be more true, after The Shema?  I know full well Psalm 23 was written well before 587 BC and the beginning of Israel's exile into Babylon.  But these words of affirmation and comfort have been on her lips and in her heart throughout her abandonment in Babylon and for all the centuries since.

     Because the Lord is Israel's shepherd, she knows her God to be one of provision and protection and blessing, exile notwithstanding.  There is an eternal intimacy between Israel and God.  Human shepherds may be appointed for a season, but they cannot be a reliable source for life and hope and deliverance.  Only God can be that shepherd.

     Jesus declares himself to be The Good Shepherd in our Gospel reading for today.  He is not only aware of the precarious condition of the fold, but is prepared to bring comfort and life to the sheep.  There are thieves afoot who will deceive the flock with a false voice; a voice that does not know the names of each of the sheep. 

     The Good Shepherd knows each of the sheep.  You see, they belong to him.  They are his from the very Hand of God.  It is his willful duty to preserve, protect, and defend every sheep.  They will trust him and follow him because he is the Good Shepherd.  But there are other sheep in God's flock which need the comfort and the guidance of the Good Shepherd.  Jesus intends to round them up from wherever they have wandered.

     Jesus knows all the sheep and knows not all of them are safely within the fold.  The Good Shepherd must call to them by name and bring them to safety and only when the flock is fully and entirely safe can the Good Shepherd turn them over to God.

     Jesus declares there is one flock.  There is one shepherd.  There is one God.  Verse 17 tells us one flock is the will of God.  Jesus is loved by God for having gathered them together.  Having gathered them, Jesus is willing to lay down his life for them.  This sacrifice is not a loss.  Because by his life-laying-down act, the manifestation of God's full and triumphant love for Israel is made known for all history to see and know.

     On this Shepherd Sunday, in the Year of our Lord 2020, I pray we all may know the goodness and the comfort of the Lord as our Shepherd.  Believe He knows your name and calls your name and welcomes you to the fold with all the other sheep for which he lays down his life.  Amen.



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Friday, April 24 -- Message for Sunday

TEXTS:  ISAIAH 5:1-6

                LUKE 24; 13-35

 

     Saint Luke places us back in time a week.  Thomas doubts and declares his un-belief will only be remedied by the placing of his hands in the wounds of Jesus.  That was the evening of the resurrection when the disciples and others were gathered in the upper room.  It was a week later Thomas has his doubts banished in a dramatic encounter with the risen Jesus.

     The dramatic encounter on the Road to Emmaus finds us on that First Easter afternoon as two of the friends of Jesus are making their way to that town seven miles from Jerusalem.  As they travel, they encounter Jesus, but do not recognize him.

     As they walk with him, unaware of his identity, they are aghast this traveler knows nothing of the events of the last several days.  They tell him all there is to know and still they are in the dark as to his identity.  

     They are careful to share what the women have claimed to have seen and heard.  The text reads as if they were in some ways doubtful as to the truth of the women's testimony.  To which Jesus says these two men are foolish and slow of heart to believe the prophets.

     Isn't that a curious thing for Jesus to have said?  He chastises them for not believing the prophets; that is, Moses and Isaiah and Jeremiah and Amos, and all the rest.  He doesn't lay into them about not believing him.  After all, they knew him when he was alive before the resurrection, how could they not recognize and believe him after?

     Most Emmaus Road sermons focus on how the two men finally recognize Jesus after he breaks the bread and blesses it and gives it to them.  It was only then their eyes were opened and then Jesus is gone in a flash.  Then they hurry those many miles back to Jerusalem to tell the others they too have seen the risen Jesus.

     I wonder if that most common bit of sermonizing overlooks something quite profound?   Jesus seems to be saying you don't need to see him to believe him to be the Messiah.  You need only remember the prophets and believe their testimony.  Beginning with Moses, according to Jesus, there is testimony galore as to the Messiah.  There is plenty enough for belief and faith and the power to bear witness to that divine truth.

     Let's review: "In all the scriptures": Jesus tells his fellow travelers about God's mighty power and the glory of his love and desire for Israel such that a messiah will come to deliver them.

     In the beginning when chaos and darkness reigned, the Holy Spirit hovered over that mysterious vacuum of emptiness and creation was born.  Life emerged.

     Light was created and more than light emerged; life came to be.

     The flood devoured all but Noah, his family, and the rescued animals; and from the ark life emerged and continued.

     With Moses there is the story of Egyptian slavery; from which the people of Israel emerged and there was deliverance and life.  

     From the wanderings in Sinai there came deliverance and life fit for a land of promise with milk and honey abounding.  Again, God provided deliverance and life.

     On that Road to Emmaus, Jesus of Nazareth, the Lamb of God, appears risen from the tomb.  Yes, God has provided deliverance and life from the depths of Sheol.  

     Saint Luke is telling all who will read the testimony of the prophets God is forever delivering and redeeming and causing life to be.  To see the risen Jesus may well be the cherry on top of the "revelation cake," but knowing the glorious and divine truth of God's Word in the prophets can be enough.  

     Jesus is the final and necessary witness to the one true God who delivers and redeems and makes life to be.  This is the testimony of the prophets and all the scriptures.

     In our current season of isolation and pent up urgency to return to life, have faith in the prophets, in the witness of the first disciples, and in the risen Jesus' own words about himself.  If life can come from the chaos of that first vacuum and the flood and Egyptian slavery and Babylonian Exile and the garden tomb, so too can life emerge from this pandemic.  

     This we believe and proclaim.  One day we will again rejoice in the sanctuary of the Lord at Calvary UMC.  We will know the Easter blessing and celebrate it with heart and mind and voice.  Amen.



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April 20

“Ask the Pastor”

     Monday's "Ask The Pastor" has been a delight for me.  Several of our Calvary family offer suggestions for this Monday Memo and I am delighted at the variety of subjects about which there is some curiosity.

     This edition of "Ask The Pastor" is the result of my picture being in the current edition of our local Mail Journal.  A member of the public asked  ‘What is that book you are reading in the mail journal photograph?   On the back page I'm seen sitting in my office reading an anthology of the poems of the Suni mystic/poet/theologian Jelaluddin Rumi, now known simply as Rumi.  

     He was born in what is now Afghanistan in 1207, and died in what is now Turkey in 1273.  At thirty-seven, Rumi met the dervish Shams of Tabriz and it changed his life and Islamic poetry was never the same.

     You could say this encounter and the time they spent together before the dervish simply disappeared was the beginning of Rumi's engagement with the mysticism of Islam.  His poetry took on the character of dreams and visions and ecstasy.  

     While he did not establish a school or sect intended to pass on his wisdom, others did so in his stead.  Today his legacy lives on across the Islamic world and his devotees cross nearly every religious boundary.  So beloved was he in Persia during his lifetime, there is a sect of his followers that began after his death by his son, Baha al-Din Muhammad-i Walad (better known as Sultan Walad).  To this day the MewlewÄ« Sufi order is still headed by a direct male descendant of Rumi and his youngest son, Sultan Walad.

     So much for a brief history of Rumi.  Why was I holding that book in the picture printed in the Mail Journal?  Simply, it was on my desk because I was trying to find a poem about the rain and I remembered it from an early encounter with Dwight Judy.  I had come to Oakwood for a continuing education event back in the mid to late 90's and Dwight was leading it.  He began each of our sessions with a devotion based on a poem by Rumi.  I was hooked.  Man, oh, man, was I hooked.  

     This was just before Amazon and I had a very difficult time finding anything on Rumi that suited my interests,  Finally, that red covered book you see in the newspaper was published and I soon owned my own copy.  It has been on my desk pretty much ever since.  It's treasures have been enthralling and engaging me now for two decades.  Because I'm holding it as a kind of prop for a picture, an eagle-eyed reader asked about it.  

     I can't seem to find the devotional source referencing rain in this collection of Rumi's writings.  But I do remember one about the wise man who happened upon a small cottage.  He stopped to inquire if the owner might spare a bit of bread?  He would not.  How about a piece of meat?  No.  A sip of water?  Not even a sip of water.  It was then the wise man knew what it was the owner of the cottage possessed and he hurried away.  He discerned the cottage owner's heart was hardened and only death was housed in his abode. 

     In this lingering season of separation and increasing anxiety over the future, I pray all our houses could spare a bit of bread or meat or a sip of water that death might find its abode elsewhere.



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Second Sunday of Easter

Texts:  Exodus 15: 1-11

            John 20: 19-31

     Christ Is Risen!  Our universal paschal proclamation has echoed across the centuries.  The Church rejoices in God's great and wondrous victory over sin and death.  The God of creation continues to show forth His grandeur and grace.  

     On this second Sunday of Easter our proclamation is no less triumphant than it was on that very first Easter.  Maybe, more triumphant now than then.  You see, St. John's text places us in the upper room that first Easter evening and everyone is fearful.

     The women have reported seeing the crucified Jesus walking the earth.  He spoke to them.  He had a message for his disciples to meet him in Galilee.  But, they do not go there.  They stay in Jerusalem.  They hide.  The tremble.  And as the night falls and the doors are locked and the windows shuttered, He stands among them.  He blesses them with his peace.  He shows them his wounded hands and side.  And he blesses them again with his peace,

     The whirlwind of Friday's passion and the silence of Saturday's Sabbath have left the first disciples more than a bit confused.  The empty tomb and the presence of angels only make their bewilderment all the more confounding.  Every time Jesus said he must go to Jerusalem and there be put to shame, suffering, and death seems not to have taken hold in any of his friends. 

     They believed him to be the messiah.  They knew him to be a teacher and miracle worker.  Throngs of followers and the curious came to him and they were taught and fed and encouraged to believe in him.  That first Sunday evening reveals to us how unbelieving they all were; or at least unconvinced.  

     By then the women bore witness to angels asking them why they seek the living among the dead.  They tell of him having spoken to them in the garden about ascending to be with God.  Their witness seems to have been for naught.  And they huddle with those who shared the Passover meal with them not thirty-six hours earlier.

     By way of the text, we learn Jesus will confirm every word of the women's testimony.  He will suddenly appear and he will bestow his peace and breathe on them the Holy Spirit.  That will be their empowering for all he has asked of them.   They will be able to forgive sin from that night on.  And that seems to me to be a powerful tool for accomplishing their mission to spread the Gospel and transform the world.

     As to Thomas and his recalcitrant attitude toward the women's testimony, remember this: his doubt prompts Jesus to return the next week to fortify those who still hide.  What's more, it is Thomas who declares Jesus to be "My Lord, and my God."  Indeed, he is.

     In closing, Moses sang a song for Israel as he and the nation of Israel were saved at their exodus through the sea.  "I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously.  Who is like thee, O LORD, among the gods?  Who is like thee, majestic in holiness, terrible in glorious deeds, doing wonders?"       

     Would that we all could join in this song of triumph in this Easter season.  Would that the risen Jesus continue to breathe peace and the power of the Holy Spirit on the Church.  Would that all the world believe now and forever.  Amen.



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April 15

April 15th.  Tax Day in America.  Hip, Hip, Hooray!  Only, this year, the April 15th deadline has been put off until the 15th of July.  No penalties or interest until then.  Again, Hip, Hip, Hooray!  It's an old and durable truth that the only things certain in life are death and taxes.  My dad told that to my brother and me when we had a newspaper route and we had to file our very first tax return.  That was back in 1965 or so.  For over half a century I've been paying taxes on my income.  I don't know when I realized every stick of gum or tube of BBs or hamburger I bought also came with a state sales tax.  My dad said then, we had to pay the Governor.  I didn't even know who the governor was.  Why was I paying him?  I've stopped wondering what I would buy if I didn't have to pay taxes.  They are the price we pay for living in a democracy.  I'm not intending to be philosophical about whether my taxes are too high or if I'm not in favor of how they are spent.  I have my quibbles.  Everyone does.  To live in The Unites States of America is a great blessing.  To be alive, even in the midst of a pandemic, is better than the alternative.  The future will come and bring with it more taxes and more death.  Remember, those two things are inescapable.  But the future will also bring life and laughter and birthdays and graduations and weddings and the two most exciting words in the English language: PLAY BALL!  Pray let it be so and soon.  Stay safe and keep the safe distance and pay your taxes.



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Easter Meditation

TEXTS:  Jeremiah 31: 1-6

               Matthew 28: 1-10

     Hallelujah!  God has not forgotten his faithfulness.  God has not turned away!  God has not been thwarted by death!  This great and glorious news needs to be heard and proclaimed across the fruited plain!  From ocean to ocean; from the highest mountain top to the deepest valley!  All of creation has reason to rejoice!  Every generation of the Church sings one hymn of thanksgiving!  

     Jesus Christ is risen today!  By God's hand and according to his will, the crucifixion death meant to silence Jesus has been rendered impotent.  The sealed tomb meant to hide and hold a dead body has been invaded by God's Holy Spirit.  Now empty, the tomb bears witness to the God who stands in triumph over all to declare in Jesus of Nazareth: "I am the resurrection and the life!"

     Easter Sunday is no time for trying to find a new or glib way to proclaim what all of the Church believes: "Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again!"  The scriptures presented for us this Easter tell of a great and magnificent mystery.  

     Women come to the tomb to finish what there wasn't time for Friday afternoon.  They come even after having been told by Jesus he would not remain dead.  God would restore to him his life after his shame and passion.  He told this to his disciples more than once.  Still, the women come to finish preparing his body for burial.  Still the twelve hide and murmur; maybe even weep.  

     However, the God of salvation and redemption and deliverance has not been passive.  God has not rested on the Sabbath.  An earthquake has rolled the stone away.  An angel of the Lord sits and waits.  And when it speaks, guards tremble, women listen, and then hurry to tell the others what they have been told and what they have seen.

     Jesus meets them as they flee and he tells them to tell his disciples he will meet them in Galilee and they will see him there. This is not the Sunday morning anyone thought possible all those centuries ago.

     And today is not the Easter any of us thought possible, either.  We find ourselves cloistered in our homes.  We find bits and pieces of the usual Easter events on line or on television or no theradio.  And more than a few of us are alone with no one to hug or greet and no invitations to Easter dinner, which is usually a feast of sumptuous delights.  This is very different from what is usual.

     But what is not different and is never different is the Glory of God in the resurrected Jesus.  The Good News of the Gospel is the same and will remain the same for eternity.  God continues to stand in the midst of a fallen creation willing its reconciliation to himself.  

     This Easter, we may indeed find ourselves constrained and frustrated given our limitations to celebrate as we have in the past.  Just remember, Christians have never been guaranteed Easter Sunday dinner seated around a peaceful and bountiful table.  

     War and privation have visited our homes in the past.  This year, it's the plague, not to put too fine a point on it.  It will pass.  Soon the fields will again be planted.  The rains will fall.  Sunrise and sunset will bracket the day.  

     Our salvation rests only in Jesus; whether we live or whether we die we are his.  This Easter, as in every past Easter, the faithfulness of God in Christ Jesus is made manifest in our hope and our faith and in our love for one another.  

     Jesus told the women not to be afraid; but to go and tell his friends he will see them in Galilee as he promised.  That promise is ours.  That promise is eternal.  That promise is where we find the Church.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.



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