Wishing you a Blessed Easter Monday and all Seven Easter Sundays

John 4:2-3 In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

One of the things I love about being an Episcopalian is, as a group, we enjoy a good time. Any excuse is good for a party. If you don’t believe me, look at the church calendar aka Our Social Agenda.

Take Christmas. Most people celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve and Christ-mas Day. Then it’s done. Take down the tree and decorations. Put them away for another year. Not us. We start four weeks in advance of Christmas, celebrating the preparation for Christmas. We call it Advent. And then, we celebrate all 12 days of Christmas. No one-day wonder for us!

And then there’s Easter. Today is Easter Monday. Notice it’s not the Monday after Easter. It is Easter Monday. When it comes to Easter, we start preparing six weeks in advance. And, as if that’s not enough, we even have a party to celebrate the beginning of the preparation for Easter. We call it Fat Tuesday, followed by Lent, then Holy Week when we walk through the dark days of Christ’s trial, torture, and crucifixion to reach the glorious light of Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, and six more Sundays of Easter! Seven in all! If you don’t believe me, check out the Church Calendar!

Now, some might think this is a bit much, but I don’t. Think of it as extended intensive training. You see, Jesus didn’t resurrect only once. He has never stopped. He promises that every time one of us comes to the end of our life, He will come back for us. And that’s not the only time he comes back., so we need to be ready, spiritually fit.

I believe He resurrects every time we walk into a church to worship; every time we sing Amazing Grace, and every time we bow our head in prayer. Every time we share the Eucharist, we call upon him to send His Holy Spirit into the bread and wine that, as we take in this precious meal, He is resurrected within us.
I believe he comes to us in our everyday life. I believe He is resurrected in the early morning hours when I sit in the rocking chair in the kitchen with the dog in my lap, and my thoughts drift to prayer and meditation.

I believe He is resurrected every time we touch a baby’s cheek to our own. Every time we welcome the smile of a friend. Every time we embrace a loved one. I believe that Christ is resurrected in those moments. And I believe that when our life comes to an end, He will resurrect in our death to take us to His home in heaven. I believe it. He promised and Jesus keeps His promises.

So here we are. Time to put on our dancing shoes. The party is just beginning! It’s Easter and He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen!

Who Shall We Be?

A Lenten Meditation

When Jesus realized that they were about to come and take hm by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.  John 6:15

In a recent sermon, Bishop Curry cited Abraham Lincoln’s closing words of his second inaugural address:

With malice toward none; with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Lincoln addressed a country in crisis, in great danger.  A country torn apart by a war within itself, brothers killing brothers, flailing in the bloody chaos of discrimination, violence, and hatred. 

It was a time for decision. Who shall we be?  What kind of people, what kind of country shall we be?  Do we persist in the chaos?  Or do we become the compassionate community Lincoln envisioned?  More than a hundred years later, we still struggle to find answers to these questions.

Two thousand years earlier, Jesus faced the same politics of chaos, lies, and brutality.   And he lived the answers.  The reality was and is that there is no choice.  Chaos is not a choice.  Lincoln knew it.  Jesus knew it.  They knew that the only viable option for individuals and for society was to take the path of compassionate community.  In our scripture today, Jesus took compassion on the multitude who came to see him and to hear what he had to say.  As dinner hour approached, Jesus did what any good host would do.  His company was hungry, and he fed them.  That’s community.

Jesus lived the path of love, unselfish, sacrificial love. He took the way of the cross seeking good in and for others.  And “When he realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself.”  He turned his back on the temptation of earthly power and prestige, and what most certainly would have ended in chaos, in a bloody civil war. 

Instead, he stayed true to his path of sacrifice.  That is the way of love that can heal our hurts, our losses, and our land.  That is the way we become a compassionate community, filled with instruments of God’s peace, agents of God’s love, blessing others along the way, and praying, God of grace and God of glory, Grant us wisdom, and grant us courage for the facing of this hour.  Amen

This meditation is a combined effort, inspired by Bishop Curry’s Lenten sermon and my own thoughts.  Thank you, Bishop