On Sunday, I zoomed with the youth of our parish and provided space to talk about the recent protests in our city and nation. One student had participated in the protest in Winnetka. I asked what message really stood out to her and she replied, “Using white privilege to end white privilege.”
Resources for Daily Living has been offered for these many weeks to assist you in deepening in faith during this pandemic that has created so much extra time. As I said several times in my sermons, we were sin sick before the pandemic and the brutal death of George Floyd surfaces the sin of racisimagain.
Monday I got out in the garden to pull some weeds. I noticed as time went on that I was not just clearing out weeds, I was treating the weeds like an enemy. It felt cathartic to step back from my work and see the flowers freed.
Life is a mess. I remember twenty years ago, in a heart to heart moment with a seminary professor, confiding that my calling is simply born out of experiencing the mess of life and finding God in the midst of it saving me. I may not be that sophisticated a thinker, but right now the simple truth is that our world is broken by sin, and humans are frail and limited making a messy reality. I am a priest because I need God as a sinner, and as a frail and limited person, I rely on the hope peace of God that the world cannot give.
I'll often find myself holding several opposing tensions at the same time. We feel this in our cities and nation as we hold the concern for people who need to get back to work and earn a living with the virus’ cloaked freedom to infect each other. Life necessitates holding many tensions at once, challenging us as we form our thoughts, draw conclusions, and determine what is needed to do.
That we have a wide variety and large number of resurrection appearances preserved in the Gospels and Book of Acts is one of the great mercies of God.
I hope you get a chance to read through the Illuminated Resurrection Appearances or watch the video presentation of them. Viewing each mystical appearance, one after another, each as its own revelation, helps you to locate the one that speaks to you.
Doubting Thomas is one of my favorite of the appearances. The gentle way Jesus revealed himself to the traumatized disciples resonates in me. After such a brutal and ugly death His presence had to bring sweet relief. The words he chose, “Peace be with you”, would have melted their fears. His kindness and gentleness as he related to Thomas’ disbelief must have dispelled guilt and healed all their souls.
The microscopic coronavirus has put the whole world on lock down. The scale of death from it will be like a bomb dropped on each country. It is really strange to consider this tiny virus that can be destroyed with soap and water can also kill a person and bring billions of people and commerce to a near halt. A microbe is the source of the weight of uncertainty that buckles our knees. Anyone can get it, anyone can pass it to others.
If you are seeking God’s answers to yet another grief stricken moment in history, you are not alone. All of us are walking to the tomb with Mary in sorrow.
These unprecedented days of the COVID19 pandemic are disorienting for all of us. No matter your age and stage you are affected by the disorienting feelings of grief, worry, and uncertainty.
Holy Week is the most sacred time of the year for Christians. As a priest I view the liturgies of Palm/Passion Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter as the most instructive and important to our spiritual becoming. My staff and I put enormous energy into making them beautiful and meaningful year after year. This week the church will remain dark for all of them. Disorienting.
Lazarus died twice. Think of it. After Jesus called him from the grave and his life went on, do you think he worried less about the next death that he would inevitably face? Maybe his subsequent obituary read, “It was not so bad the second time around.”
I am reminded of a story from my life. Mabel was 8 and we were at a hotel pool. I was lingering on the side of the pool shivering in my swimsuit. I was putting off the inevitable as I tested the water with my toe and confirmed I was not going to get warmer if I got it. Mabel was already in the pool dancing around in delight cheered me to jump in. Like all kids she wanted me to jump in and join her play and happiness. Instead I was reticent. Impatient, Mabel finally chose philosophy to motivate me, “Come on mom, worry makes you suffer twice.”
During the pandemic which has changed our lives so dramatically, Mabel’s advice should be put on coffee mugs and bumper stickers, printed on t-shirts and pillow cases. “Worry makes you suffer twice”.
“The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a woman engaged to a man named Joseph. Her name was Mary.” You know the story but likely you do not know that according to the Church Liturgical Calendar March 24th celebrates what is historically called, The Annunciation of our Lord.
During Lent seems right to remember the moment that the angel came to Mary and said, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God and you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will call him Jesus.” Recalling the beginning of Jesus’ life as we prepare to remember his suffering and the cross is profound during the global pandemic causing such catastrophic suffering and death.