Can You Hear Easter (the good news)

Can you hear Easter?

It’s ringing in the stilled bells, the empty chapels, creeping up with the quiet growth of spring

It’s on the lips of exhausted doctors and nurses—too tired to murmur

It’s in the silent wave between neighbors, keeping too far away to talk, but close enough for company

It’s in the silent hug between family members stuck together; where entire conversations flow through the body

It’s on the breath of the sick, in that place between waking and sleeping

It’s in the angel’s nod of greeting to the women, the absence of guards and the rolling away of the stone

If s a stone rolls away and nobody hears it; does it make a sound?

It booms like the rise thunderous sun, bedecked in glory, shining out the news wordless in its proclamation

Can you hear Easter?

Say Nothing Easter

Here we are Jesus, at our say nothing Easter.

And the truth is, I really don’t know what to say. An angel told us you’re alive, but what does that really mean?

Your angels are frightening God, full of life & death; we cannot fully understand who or what they are. We are blinded by the angels eyes, and need some holy shade to think. And we are not exactly filled with hope.

Where is Jesus? He promised to return, but here we are and Mark leaves us with a rolled back stone, one angel and bunch of women. Who would believe what they had to say anyway?

Would Peter and the disciples really hear what needed to be done?

This is a say nothing Easter, where we are alone with ourselves and think, what can we say.

What will you say?

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Thank God it’s Friday? Psalm 22

My God, My God why have you abandoned us?

The churches are empty, The offices, the schools, the streets are laid bare.

and demons are everywhere.

The diseases hide in plain sight, and surround us.

And we are stuck, alone, in our own personal pit left with only with our anxieties and depressions.

The powers that be are useless, stuck running around in circles, contradictions abound.

We are stuck in the mire. Things suck, and for those who have to watch their beloved ones die alone this is the shitstorm that never ends.

And God, you know I do not say shitstorm lightly.

We are stuck in the pit. Are very bodies are disturbed. I feel like not eating, then eating everything. I cannot sleep, but neither can I stay awake.

My God, My God. Why would you send your only son on earth to suffer with us.

To see those who are falling through the cracks: the maligned: Zacchaeus, the ignored: the woman by the well, the ones with long term diseases: the lepers and those living with disabilities: the lame and the blind.

Then to see friends die of disease. First Jairus’ daughter, then his beloved friend Lazarus.

Thank God it’s Friday, Good Friday.  A day to cry out, a day to admit that not everything is alright. The kids are not alright, neither are their parents or grandparents. The doctors and nurses are not alright, nor the grocery and retail and mail workers. The teachers are not alright, nor the aunties or the uncles. Those who live with abusers, those who are not yet out to their family aren’t alright, those who are lonely and have no one to call are not alright. The thousands and thousands of people on unemployment are not alright.

Lord, why have you abandoned us? We are not alright. If it’s possible, please let this cup pass.

But your will be done.

We are not alright, and Jesus is not alright with us.

We are vulnerable, he made himself vulnerable. We are cold, sick, naked, alone, uncertain and unsafe.

We are face to face with the cross and we do not like it.

Lord hear our prayer! Be with those who are not alright, be with us for we are not alright. Help us. Hosanna in the highest.

Amen.

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Virtual Communion

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We are forever practicing virtual communion.

Recalling you, re-membering you. Virtually recalibrating ourselves to be the body of Christ until it becomes a physical reality.

We celebrate with all those saints who have come before us, and all those who have yet to come as a part of your kingdom. It is a virtual party, a foretaste, a glimpse of what is to come.

We worry about the rules a lot: who is truly welcome at the table, does Jesus really mean every single person can be a part of the body of Christ?

We worry about what together means: does communion mean at the same time, does it mean being in the same place? Does it mean the same loaf? Does it mean it all has to be wine? Do chips & grape soda count? What is the food of the people?

In our anxiety to be together, sometimes we do the opposite and make a lot of walls to keep each other apart.

But I’m happy for the gift of virtual communion. To remember that not everyone who is supposed to be there is there, and yet somehow it’s still communion and they are still included.

I am grateful for the celebration of it–for the solemn moment when we realize that we are a part of God’s family, and that Jesus welcomed especially those who are forgotten or overlooked, I remember that Jesus often called those who had no other access by NAME to him.

Because this virtual communion is also a real communion. Somehow, miraculously it’s always both. We are both the unbaked bread beginning to rise, and the crusty bake, dipped in the cup, and no matter what stage we are at we can taste it on our tongue.

However we classify and codify this communion, Lord I pray you make us a part of it.

May we be blessed, broken and consumed, until Jesus comes again.

We pray. Amen.

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Broken for you: Maundy Thursday Prayer

Heavenly God

I know the story. After they had supped with one another—Jesus took bread & blessed it & broke it. He did so saying this is my body broken for you.

And when the Coronavirus was coming—we went to the grocery stores and the stores that sold toilet paper. And we called our far way family, our everyday colleagues and our close friends and sent heartfelt blessings to one another, and then we said to each each other I will broken for you.

And then, Lord, as Jesus washed the feet of the disciples he told them to love one another—passing on the gift that Mary Magdalene gave him, he knelt in front of each and every one of them to cleanse the dirt off their feet.

We too are washing in service–washing the germs from our hands when we enter a building, washing the germs for ourselves when we exit. Let each washing be a blessings. A spillover of your love. A symbol of the cup spilling over and filling our souls. Washing people from our presence, standing at least six feet from one another out of love. Bless this washing we pray.

Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

 

 

Good Friday: Denial and Grace in Crises

Before this night is over Peter, you will deny me three times,

In fact each and every one of you will deny me before the end.

Not me Lord, I would never deny you.

The absolute horror of what was going to happen could not be fathomed by the disciples. It was too a deep a hole for them to see. Death, betrayal, denial and damnation were unthinkable. After all they had faith, and they had Jesus. What else would they need?

Denial is very human. It’s how we handle some of the world, it’s one way to fend off PTSD.

What are you in denial about right now? Here, in the middle of a pandemic, what is too much for you to take in?

Remember that even the disciples had trouble processing it all. Remember that only Christ and God can hold the enormity of the tragedy that is taking place. And Jesus requested the presence of these fumbling disciples in Gethsemane to pray. And after they messed up not once, not twice, but three times, but Jesus did not send them away.

We will not be sent away, and our presence is necessary.

Give yourself the grace you need to pray, be in denial and present in whatever strange combination exists within your soul, and remember you do in good company.

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Holy Week: Praying Our way Through!

Palm Sunday was the premature victory parade.

People in the streets, gathering because they thought the battle was over.

In the great tradition of Greek & Roman celebrations, they came and laid cloaks and palms at the victor’s feet to soften his path.

But Jesus, knew the hardest things would be next–

The Sedar Meal where Jesus spends his last night on earth with his beloved.

Then he tries to tell the disciples that he is–that they all are–betrayed, but no one believes him, and Judas denies his complicity

I wonder if this is the moment that Jesus decides he’s going to wash his disciples feet. Lavishing love upon them one last time, giving them another more personal memory to be layered upon the parade where I’m sure the disciples walked on the dusty ground near Jesus.

The long journey to Jerusalem, the cries of victory and the soothing touch of the Lord Jesus, the bellies full of good food all of the makings of the end of a good day.

Palm Sunday was the premature victory parade; people gathered in the streets thinking that there was going a battle that needed to be won. Unaware that it would instead be about healing.

I think about this as Holy Week seems creeps into today. In the midst of a pandemic I feel the need to celebrate the good, the anguish of seeing people die, the waiting, waiting, waiting of Holy Saturday.

I don’t want any premature victories, let me tell you that straight off. And I don’t want us to be going to war. And I already tire of the heightened violence, the excuse for evil racist attacks, the righteous violence of those who knock over people who are spitting on food or violating the social distancing rule–Peter’s anger in the garden seems way more present these days.

I want reconciliation, I want healing. I want us to all act like Easter is coming. Not according to any human calendar or calculation, but because Shalom is the ultimate goal. I want to work towards the healing of the world, because it’s the right thing to do, not because I need this victory or that one.

Palm Sunday was fine, but I’ll wait for Easter as long as this Holy Saturday takes.

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Everything Counts/Counting the stars

Count the stars God tells Abram and Sarai, or, if you prefer, count the grains of sand.

Lord sometimes I feel like my efforts are no more than grains of sand in an ocean of hurting, lonely and sick people.

And time is dripping through the egg timer, one solitary granular at the time.

Count the sand, how can I count the sand, when I am but one grain?

How can I calculate the stars when I am but one entity of stardust in a vast, vast universe?

God who knows the count of every hair on my head. Creator of all beings who walk or fly or swim or crawl; surely you know I cannot count that high.

How then can I count my efforts? In the moment of crises am I doing enough? Am I staying away enough (6ft and staying at home as much as possible)? Am I being in contact enough (phone calls and video conferences and snail mail)?

Am I opening up enough (how can I help), am I keeping my family safe enough (let’s not do that)?

Am I taking care of myself enough (walks and family and friends and reading)?

The box of food I’ve collected, is that enough to count? The one package of toilet paper I found, does that work? The one small family I was able to bus back home–they were only two people–is that enough?

Count the stars.

Count the sand.

God reassures Abram & Sarai that they are connected to the world, that they are part of a greater universe, that they are part of the whole of human family and because they are of one humanity

their grain of time

their glow of starlight

is enough.

Remind me of that too I pray.

Amen

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As the Rain Falls

The rain is falling today.

It’s indiscriminate. The rain doesn’t care who it falls on.

If you go out in the rain you will get wet.

It falls on the powerful and the meek.

It falls on the just and unjust

Yesterday the sun was shining

It didn’t care; the sun doesn’t care who it touches

If you went into the sun, you received it’s rays filled with vitamin D

It shone on those who were happy and those who mourned

It shone on those with COVID19 and those without alike.

Sometimes I feel caught up in my shoulds….

What should I be doing? How should I be feeling? Who should I be, now in the middle of this world crises.

God reminds me, God is my God, and the God of those who are angry, and the God of those who are terrified, or alone.

God is still my God when I feel those things. The sun still shines on me and the rain still makes me wet.

And if I’m just scraping to make ends meet: physically, monetarily, intellectually or emotionally. God is still my God then too.

You can’t be too anything for God: too good or too bad, too straight or too queer, too rich or too poor, too sad or too happy.

God promises, no matter what, God will be our God.

And I’m glad, in this time when I can’t touch many people–I can feel the drops of rain on my tongue and the warmth of the sun between my shoulders.

Remind me whoever I feel too much, or too little God that these are not your limits. Allow me to take comfort in the sun and the rain I pray. Amen.

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Pandemic Beatitudes

Cursed are the greedy, the one who put corporations before others, for they will end up with only money

Cursed are the liars, the fakers and the scammers, for they will end up with nothing

Cursed are the penny pinchers, the ones who think they immune, the ones who take other’s lives into their hands, their is the guilt of hurting others

‪Blessed are those who stay home and wait for the resurrection not as a date on the calendar but the as the return to wholeness, health and peace in the community. For theirs is the faith of the church.

Blessed are those who are at work, seeing hundreds of people a day, honoring the essentials of staying alive. For the work of their hands reflects the shape of their hearts.

Blessed are those who are waiting, waiting for the isolation to end, waiting to see if their loved one comes home safe from work, waiting to hear the news of a test in their lives. For theirs is the fullness of times

Blessed are the truck drivers and the custodial staffs who apply and scrub for all of us, for theirs will be all the comfort in the world.

Blessed are the truth tellers, the scientists and the fact fact-finders, for theirs will be the relationships of hope.

Blessed are the stressed, the homeworkers, the homeschoolers, the teachers without students, the workers without offices theirs will be peace.

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