Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Grace Happens

It's been a full week and it's only Wednesday morning!  At our Tuesday night study I was asked how things were response was, "It feels a bit 'full-moon-ish'.  I hadn't looked at the calendar.
We used to joke about crazy things happening when the moon was full, but when I was doing my clinical pastoral education at the hospital it was no joke.  ER staff prepared and carefully watched the phases of the moon.  Sure enough traffic picked up and seemed like crazy things happened on those full-moon nights!

Just checked the calendar and sure enough, today is a full moon!  The craziness isn't anything specific, nor is it anything very out of the ordinary; it just all seems to come at once.  People dealing with grief, accidents, scheduling, needs, needing to talk, needing time, needing my action on things. All quite normal things, just all seeming to be constant.

At our study last night we read again the story of the Risen Christ appearing to the disciples on the beach.  They had fished all night, casting the net time and time again into the dark waters with nothing to show for their effort.  In the morning as they come in from a long and unproductive night, Jesus meets them and says, "Do it once more-over there, the other side".    Really?  Again?  As they drag in that amazing catch with no broken net, he is waiting with breakfast on the beach.

Holding the image of tired fishermen being told to cast the net one more time in our minds, we are asked what that image says to us in our life right now.  I was incredibly humbled when the first response was, "I think of you, Pastor."  hummm

As I drove home after doing yet another errand for someone else the light was red.  A small oval with whimsical lettering on it on the car in front of me read, "Grace Happens".
I'm not a huge fan of bumper stickers, I resist them almost at all costs.  But that one...

Grace the midst of full-moon-ish days and nights
Grace happens...while doing errands for others
Grace happens...when we continue to cast the net, again, and again
Grace happens...getting a wonderful email from a new friend and colleague
Grace happens...when a grandchild pats me on the back as I carry them
Grace happens...when Jesus makes breakfast on the beach
Grace happens...when leading a discussion in bible study
Grace the faces of the preschool class as the ask again, "Can we do the church and steeple again?"

Grace happens... all the time, everywhere.
Sometimes we just need to slow down, cast the net on the other side and recognize Jesus on the beach.

Thank you God of Grace and God of Glory!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Waiting and Reservations

"Seems like only yesterday"...  that's what the other side of waiting looks like!  But oh, until we get there--ouch!  I must confess, I don't do waiting very well, maybe you don't either.  I only wait well when I have something else to do, like read a book or work on my knitting!

We waited through Lent for Easter but then we waited some more.

One year, I remember waiting for two hours to get a table for Easter brunch when we had made a reservation!  I always have this indecision in restaurant situations; do you believe the wait time and hang in there (hoping they'll call your name at any moment) or move on and try someplace else? Problem is, by the time you've gotten to "someplace else" and waited there, the original place would have had you seated!

The early disciples waited too, even when they thought they had a reservation!  They waited through the long Passover dinner with Jesus, waited in the garden to pray with him and they were tired.  Falling asleep after a big meal sounds familiar doesn't it?  Then they waited through the next days, hoping that what they were experiencing wasn't true and someone would just walk into the whole mess and say, "Wait a minute folks, let's just listen to the guy, maybe it's true!"  But that didn't happen.  Then they waited to see if someone would be coming for them next.  Was their reservation in the wrong name? Did they give it right?  The ladies set out to carry out the proper traditions and anoint the body and they came back with astonishing news!  But they all waited some more.  Some abandoned the first restaurant where the wait was too long, some went on to find another reservation and a few just went home to raid their own fridge and come up with a sandwich.

In these Easter weeks, we hear the stories of disciples waiting and Jesus appearing to them.  He gives them something to do while remember and to tell.  While we wait with Jesus, he feeds us, strengthens us and gives us work to do (not reading or knitting exactly!).  Filled with the Spirit, we are sent out to all this "waiting" world with the message of Jesus.  We are to remember the story and to tell it; for the anxious heart there is peace, for the wounded soul there is wholeness, for the lost and empty there is grace, for the angry there is forgiveness, for the waiting, there is a reservation and table ready.

Doesn't really matter whether you've waited at the original place, tried a new one, or given up and gone home--Jesus is there, he has our name on the list and leads us to the table, no waiting!    Enjoy the meal!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What a difference a week makes!

Last week the picture outside my kitchen looked very different!  The week began with about 5 inches of snow completely covering everything!  I had written on my little blackboard "Welcome Spring" on one of the warmer days of March and didn't anticipate it being so ironic to look at the two combined together!  

This week, the snow is gone and yesterday the sun was shining. I opened up the windows in the kitchen and the big sliding door had only the screen to hold back the critters while warm spring air flooded the house...yeah!

What a difference a week makes!

It's true in the church this week also.  We began the week with a triumphal march into Jerusalem with Jesus, waving our palm branches and shouting "Hosanna!".  The week quickly turned however, and like a sudden snowfall hearts were chilled with the anger and suspicion of those same parade-goers.
Tonight we join Jesus at the table as the Passover meal is changed to a last supper.  Tonight we hear a new commandment from him to, "Love one another as I have loved you".  We follow to the garden and sleep after a big meal overrides our good intentions to stay awake and pray with Jesus.

What a difference a week makes!

Tomorrow we experience a Service of Darkness going with him to the trial, hearing the anguish and suffering of our Lord.  One by one as the candles are extinguished, we feel the darkness of death overtake us.

What a difference a week makes!

Then we wait.  We wait for the light to return.  The new light of Christ, risen out of the darkness and the beauty of new life to break forth.  Amid the shouts of "Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!"  We join a happy celebration that is so much more than a parade of palm branches!

What a difference a week makes?  

Yes!  Quite a difference!  If I hadn't watched the snow piling up inch by inch and then watched it melt bit by bit, you could hardly have convinced me!  It's like that with our faith life too.  To fully experience the joy of an Easter morning, we have to join Jesus; entering Jerusalem with him, hearing the crowds turn against him, feeling the pain at the crucifixion, and humiliation of the cross.  Then, only then, can we enter into the true joy of finding the tomb empty.

What a difference a week makes!  Amen!