Easter, and Opportunities to Live a Resurrected Faith

Image“On call…2 grandpas alive this morning after cardiac arrests and had arteries stented by me…God blessed my hands on a beautiful Easter Sunday. Cheers.”

After three full wonderful Easter morning services I joined my family and friends for a scrumptious late brunch on our deck. This was followed by a round of calling and texting a number of family and friends to wish them happy Easter. The above response came from a dear friend I have known since he was in our middle school youth group.

Of all the warmly returned well wishes, hearing that my cardiologist friend proclaimed his Easter faith through using the gifts that God had given him was truly inspiring. It was particularly pronounced for me, as someone who has been blessed to share in his faith journey from a young age.

As the women left the tomb, they were called to bear witness to the other followers of Jesus. Subsequently, through the generations, many have been called in all sorts of ways to share their resurrection faith with others, including us. Now, in this time in our own culture and context, we are being called to be those who share our resurrection faith.

There is no prescribed way of doing so. Rather, like my friend, we are called to use the gifts that God has given us to walk with others to new life – a life that transforms the darkness to light, despair into hope, and fear into love.

Opportunities to live a resurrected faith come our way every day. Sometimes in truly life saving situations and others in smaller, yet just as important possibilities. May this Easter season be a time for all of us to become aware of the opportunities, and become responsive to the invitations to use our gifts to bring the new life of our resurrection faith to others.

Spring: A Sign of Hope and New Life

flowerAs I wound my way through my neighborhood on this beautiful 60° sunny day, I was filled with the sense of not only joy, but hope, that the long cold winter that many believed would never end, looked like it was trying to come to a close.

As I walked into my house I could not believe what was sitting on the counter. Did my eyes deceive me? Was it not only yesterday that I was in the deep embrace of winter?  And yet, before me was not only a sign of spring, but even that of summer.

Dutifully carried home by my bride, were the diplomas for the seniors graduating from Breck. They were all awaiting my signature, all symbolizing to me that winter was over and that the long expected spring had arrived!

Based on our life circumstances, we all find ourselves in a dark place from time to time. Our Holy Week journey iconically demonstrates for us that the dark place is also part of the faith journey. And yet, as people of faith, as people following in the way of Jesus, we are called to continuously look for signs of hope and new life. This new life is often manifested in the most ordinary experiences in our day-to-day existence. Sunshine, the first bud on a tree, a call from a long lost friend, and so many other “regular” occurrences are the signs and symbols of the hope we are called to.

One of the most popular quotes by renowned author and poet Maya Angelou is:

“Hope and Fear cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Invite one to stay.”

During some of the most somber days of our liturgical year, like the darkest days of our own journeys, we have a choice to succumb to the darkness or to live by faith, by inviting hope to occupy our space.

As this Holy Week unfolds, I invite you to not only continuously look for, but invite hope to be centermost in your journey.

Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace

Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/campcross

Photo Credit: Camp Cross

As they poured out into the streets, the screams of triumphant joy were so loud it was deafening. For the first time in the history of the school, they had just won a hard fought battle, crowning them national champions. It was unquestionably a time of exuberant celebration.

And then, without any noticeable provocation, the joyful celebration turned into a raucous riot. Windows were broken, cars were turned over on their sides, and fires began to blaze. Immediately, the police began to respond, and chaos turned into catastrophe as both law enforcement and students sustained injuries.

“Where? When?”, you may ask. The incredibly unfortunate response, is that it appears all too often after a team wins a championship and also when some lose. The real question in my mind is… “Why?”. Why has turning a time of celebration into violent rioting become normative? Has violence become so endemic in our culture that otherwise responsible college students become a menacing mob? Have we all become so desensitized to violence that we just shrug our shoulders and assume this is just the way it is?

Later this week I will be heading to Oklahoma with two young adults from ECMN to participate in a gathering called
“Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace:  An Episcopal National Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence”.

Here’s the description of the gathering:

“At Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence, Episcopalians will come together to renew their commitment to the Gospel call to make peace in a world of violence. Through deep conversation, prayer, and skill-building the event will empower our Church to address violence and reclaim our role in society as workers for nonviolence and peace.

As Episcopalians, we are called to ‘seek and serve Christ in all persons’ and to ‘respect the dignity of every human being’. It is this foundation that guides our efforts to nourish and deepen our relationships in God’s unending mission. We all have our own unique identity and this gathering will engage all of God’s children from different parts of God’s world, recognizing and respecting the diversity of identity present in our Church and in the world.

Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace is focused around four pillars: advocacy, education, liturgy, and pastoral care. These four areas are key avenues that our Church can use to address the culture of violence within and outside of the Church and will be woven throughout all aspects of the event including plenary time, workshops, small group conversations, and worship.”

I know this gathering will not answer all of my questions but my hope is it will begin to give us all direction about how we can turn the tide of violence that is so prevalent in our society, toward peace.