A Resurrection of Life
By Rev. Mamie Broadhurst
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” - John 11:25-27
As I bounced along in the back of the truck’s cab, I could not figure out how they could be laughing. I was on an emergency delegation to a rural region of Colombia, visiting people whose lives were under threat by paramilitary forces, and my friends from the Presbyterian Church of Colombia (IPC) were cracking jokes as we made our way from one community in danger to another. I was quiet. I had lost my laughter.
When we arrived at our last stop my colleague, who had noticed my unusual silence, came over and put his arm around me. “Mamie,” he said, “if we did not laugh then we would cry. We cannot spend our whole lives crying, right? It is terrible what is happening here, but we must move forward with hope. In the midst of violence and death, we choose to live the resurrection.” Not we choose to believe it - we choose to live it.
Privilege rests thickly on me, and I am not always stong or nimble enough to escape it, but my IPC sisters and brothers helped show me what a lived resurrection faith might look like. It calls for a celebration of life - one that includes worship and praise inside a church’s four walls, but also sweat and tears, laughter and fierce prayer outside of them. I fear I don’t live up to the lessons I learned - to the resurrection life I am called to embody - but even in silence I can hear the laughter of people who do, and it makes me try again.
Prayer: God of all things and all time, strengthen us to live resurrection lives. Show us the doors we might walk through to follow you if we could just lay down our fears. Help us proclaim in both word and deed that we believe Jesus is the Christ and thus show that he is indeed always coming into the world. Amen.
Meditate on God's Majestic
by Molly Atkinson
Psalm 145: 1-7
“You want us to do what? With no cell phones or ipods or anything? Hm…that seems impossible.”
That’s what I was thinking at least when my site coordinator in Miami told me that our group of Young Adult Volunteers was going on a silent retreat for the weekend. That meant no cell phones, no computers, no ipods, and certainly no talking. Our entire group spent the weekend on the beach in silence, admiring the sand, the waves, the laughter of those nearby. For once it was okay to take a break from the world, and to spend time praising God for God’s mighty works; to praise God for God’s beautiful creation. As the Psalmist writes in verse five, it was finally a chance to “meditate on [God’s] majestic, glorious splendor and [God’s] wonderful miracles.”
It was an unbelievable feeling to be able to step away from the cell phone and the internet and just enjoy the presence of my group and my surroundings; to sit and journal and spend time in prayer.
For most of us, it is difficult to walk away from our technology; the things that keep us connected to one another and the rest of the world. But is it possible that these things are a hindrance to our relationship and our time spent with God? Take a look around a busy street on a beautiful day. Every other person has their nose buried in their phone, not noticing the beauty around them.
The next time you think about catching up on email or phone calls or texts on your daily walk, stop! Don’t do it! Take time to really look around, in silence, at the marvelous and miraculous things that God has created. Take time to praise God, because God is “most worthy of [our praise]” and we should “praise God forever!”
Prayer: God, we thank you for the wonderful things that you have created in this world which we take for granted. Open our eyes to see the beauty in every living thing. Make us more mindful of everything that you have so freely given to us, and let us praise Your name forever! Amen.
A Way Out of No Way
by Rev. Rhashell D. Hunter
"No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and God will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing God will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it."
I Corinthians 10:13
"Hurry, we're on our way." "Where?" "To the wilderness. Oh, I know it is not a place you'd choose to go to on your own. But today, this is where we are led to go. Come on." Put yourselves in the footsteps of the Israelites. We hurry through this hot, sweltering land. Dust creeps into our sandals through our toes, yet we hurry on. And now we've made it to the sea. We have to get to the other side. Miraculously, we pass dryshod through the sea. Quickly sneaking a glance behind, we see our violent pursuers thrown down. We're on our way to freedom. We are slaves no more. We are a people again, on our way. This exhilaration is too great to experience. We are away from the Egyptian shore. It is far over the horizon. The horizon ahead of us is unsure, yet in faith, we go on, and on, and on.
Now, the exhilaration is gone, and our energy has dissipated. We are hot, tired, and hungry. People are squabbling about the smallest issue. Disagreements abound. Rifts ensue, and resentments arise. Yes, Lord, we are in the wilderness. It is not a place we'd choose to go to on our own. And it is not a pleasant place to be. We are angry, confused, hurt, unhappy, and most of all we are lost. Where do we go from here? Why do we have to go anywhere? Why did we leave? Was slavery so bad after all? And who is leading us to freedom? Are we to die here in the dessert? Where is God's spirit now? In the midst of the deep, dark midnight, in the midst of this loneliness and confusion, in the midst of this tormenting despair, where is my faith? Where is God?
During Lent, we are reminded of the Israelites' wanderings in the wilderness and are led from their baptism in the sea to Christ's baptism and wilderness experience. There is hope, for they have traveled this wilderness path before us, and Christ has traveled this path as well. Their experiences offer us strength to endure our suffering. And though there seems to be no way out, God provides the way. Our time in the wilderness, in the midst of the deep, dark midnight, in the midst of loneliness and confusion, in the midst of tormenting despair, is an opportunity for us to discover who we are and how we are to live.
Prayer: O God, "because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you...I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name...for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy." Amen.