Friday, April 28, 2017

Dear friends,
Alleluia! Christ is Risen! The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
These are the opening words of our Easter celebrations.  At the Great Vigil of Easter, after the new light is kindled and the story of salvation told, new water is blessed and these words ring out—the candles on the altar are lit and the Gloria is sung.  On Easter morning, our worship service begins with these   joyful words.
What do they mean to you??  Another Easter come and gone, good music, lots of flowers, too much chocolate and maybe an Easter Egg hunt?? Or do they speak of new life and possibility?  The resurrection is all about hope for me—that God has the final word and isn’t done with us or our world yet.
In a time when conflict abounds and our country is polarized in so many ways, it is easy to begin to feel hopeless.  In our personal lives also, when it seems like each day brings worse news, it can begin to feel like hope is fleeting.  Easter reminds us that hope is often found in struggle.
Certainly, those last days for Jesus were full of hardship, struggle and  disappointment.  His disciples even more so as they came face to face with their own inability to maintain their commitment to Jesus at his death.  But that struggle produced hope—hope that death is not the final word and that God’s word will prevail.  That hope was hard won and is available to each of us.
When we struggle and survive, we develop a sense of possibility, a store of memory that tells us new life is not only possible, but that it comes to us out of our struggles.  Hope develops when we experience pain and suffering and yet we still live, even thrive in the face of it.  Hope is what keeps us afloat.
The Resurrection story is one of hope and new life.  My prayer for each of us this Easter Season is that we are made aware of new possibilities, new life through our lives in Christ, and that we never lose hope and our faith that God’s kingdom will prevail.
Alleluia! Christ is Risen.  The Lord is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!
Easter blessings,

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Dear Friends,
If  you were in church on Ash Wednesday, you heard me talking about (as per Pope Francis) taking on a Lenten Fast from “indifference towards others”.  I think we in the church are often guilty of being so self-absorbed about ourselves and “our” mission that we forget that that mission is necessarily all about other human beings and the love of God!
It is important to me to be available and open to conversation with others while I am in the church building, so if you have stopped by the office, you have probably heard me calling out—“Who’s that?” and coming out to chat for a minute.  I also like to be out and about in the hallways to greet those who are coming to our church for recovery meetings, yoga, scouts and Jazzercise, as well as our own members.  I believe this is an important part of God’s mission for the church-one of hospitality and welcome.  This year I have extended this to our community through “Free Prayer” sessions at Teddy’s in Cranbury and Theology on Tap at The Americana Diner in East Windsor. 
Believe it or not, being “available” for conversation is a big part of being a disciple in today’s world.  In my homily on Ash Wednesday, I suggested having “curious conversations” with the people in your life, work, community and your church.  During these conversations, wonder to yourself what God might be doing in their lives.  As Christians, we believe that Jesus is active and involved in the life of every human being.  Creating, Redeeming, Blessing…everyone.  That is the work of Jesus.  We don’t need to worry about that…but we can help Him on HIS mission to reconcile the world to God.  Small conversations can be a big step.  Conversations in which we show genuine caring and interest in another person’s life can be life-changing for all involved.  Wonder what God might be up to and then ask yourself the question “How can I help?”  Practice on your family members!
This takes the pressure off the word “evangelism”, something we often struggle with.  If we truly believe that Jesus is already active in the world, that it is not up to us to “save” anyone…we can be free to create life-giving relationships without an agenda.  Isn’t that a relief??  No agenda is necessary other than genuine interest and caring.  Ask Jesus to help you to see how you can help Him on His mission and you will be surprised by what happens.
Are you intrigued by this idea? Is God calling you to investigate what discipleship can mean in your life and our church? Please speak to me about becoming a part of our new St. Paul discipleship team.  I promise it will be life-giving for YOU as you deepen your faith and trust in God and join Him on His mission in our world.