A FRIDAY MEDITATION – We had hoped

O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen. – Book of Common Prayer

I have been taking a mini vacation this week and had not planned to write, today.  However, I finished the Soul Food Article I write for the newsletter, and while filing it, I ran into this meditation from 2013.  It fits, since this scripture was the Gospel Lesson for Wednesday in Easter Week.  Cool, huh? So, I am sharing it again, today.

“I was meditating on one of the scripture lessons this week, Luke 24:12-35, when a fragment of a verse began to get my attention.  “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.” “We had hoped.”  These were disciples of Jesus (not part of the eleven) who were returning home to Emmaus after the crucifixion of Jesus.  They had hoped he was the one for whom they were waiting. They were sad and confused.  Some women had said that angels at the tomb, on this third day, said Jesus was alive, but could they believe it? “We HAD hoped.”

“The story is worth reading because it sounds like us.  We have hope in Jesus, but we don’t really know if we can believe all those stories that we have read and heard.  Is Jesus really alive for us?  Will he really redeem and restore all things? Will he help us through this day?  The Bible tells us that it is so.  We have a hope in Jesus for our lives and the life of the world.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,”

“Soon, a tune and words of a praise song started singing itself in me.  It was written by a man from Northern Ireland by the name of Robin Mark.  He wrote it in 1994 after watching a review of the year in a day much like our own when many things were dark and hope seemed long gone.  The song is titled DAYS OF ELIJAH. There are several versions on U-Tube if you want to listen.

“These are the days of Elijah declaring the word of the Lord. And these are the days of Your servant Moses, righteousness being restored. These are the days of great trials of famine and darkness and sword. Still we are the voice in the desert crying ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord!’

Behold, He comes, riding on the clouds shining like the sun at the trumpet’s call Lift your voice, year of Jubilee; Out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes.

And these are the days of Ezekiel, the dry bones becoming flesh. And these are the days of Your servant, David, rebuilding a temple of praise. And these are the days of the harvest; the fields are all white in Your world. And we are the laborers that are in Your vineyard declaring the Word of the Lord.

Behold He comes, riding on the clouds shining like the sun at the trumpet’s call Lift your voice, year of Jubilee; Out of Zion’s hill, salvation comes.”

 “I believe God has a hope, too.  He hopes we will return to his original plan for us—a plan of living in relationship with him and with others.  Jesus tells us that we are to go into the world and proclaim the Good News that he is alive and that we have seen him and know him. God hopes we will be the voice in the desert crying, “Prepare the way of the Lord.”  He hopes we will be the laborers in the vineyard declaring the way.   Jesus hopes we will be his hands and feet in the world today wherever we may be.  Jesus says, “Go! and I will go with you.”

“We say, “For His Sake…I am but one; but I am one.  I can’t do everything; but I can do something. What I ought to do, by the grace of God, I will do.  Lord, what will you have me do?” – Motto, Daughters of the King

“Behold, he comes, dear ones, we have hope.”

 

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Changes and Doubts

RESURRECTION CHANGES THINGS

Jesus himself appeared and stood among the eleven and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? … Luke 24:36-38

The weather has been just about perfect the past few days, hasn’t it?  Trees and flowers are blooming, clapping their hands with joy and singing alleluias!!  The birds join in.  Listen! We hear it softly at first. “The Lord has risen indeed.  Alleluia.”  Then louder – “THE LORD HAS RISEN INDEED!  ALLELUIA!”  All creation sings along.  So, why do we have doubts, today?

The disciples had this problem, too.  Only a few had witnessed the crucifixion, but there were witnesses.  Mary, and some of the other women, had been there and seen it all.  Mary had stayed by his tomb, and she said that she had seen him alive.  Others saw the stone had been rolled away and angels told them Jesus was no longer dead but had risen as he had said he would. There were rumors that he had appeared to others, too. But could it be true?  Maybe so.  Then what’s the problem?

I was touched by this reflection from Laura Darling in 50 days of Fabulous about two years ago. So much so that I am going to repeat it.: “Why do doubts arise in our hearts? Because you were dead, that’s why! Not only merely dead, but really, most sincerely dead. May I say it again? Dead. Not resting. Not stunned. You had passed on, ceased to be, expired. You were bereft of life, you had kicked the bucket, you had shuffled off this mortal coil. You were dead and buried, and we were never going to see you again. That’s what death means, you know. It means separation. It means all last chances are gone. It means there’s no chance for anything to be any different between us.

“And now here you are, and it’s not a delusion, and you’re not a ghost, and you’re eating a friggin’ fish. So forgive me if I’m a little wigged out here, but that’s not how life is supposed to go. It’s supposed to go in a certain direction. It’s supposed to allow for no revisions. What’s past is past, what’s done is done, what’s gone is gone, what’s dead is dead.

“I’ve got to tell you, Jesus, you have broken those rules so badly I don’t even know where to put them anymore. I don’t think there’s any charity that would take them, you’ve messed them up so badly. And now that those rules about the past and the future, death and life, you and me, are in the rubbish, I’ve got to ask you, what else are you going to change?”— (underline, mine)

What else is going to change, indeed? I’ve had many changes in my life this year.  I know Jesus has been involved in them. I’m sure in your changes, too. So, why do we doubt? Why do we wonder if it is really Jesus showing up in our lives?  Did he not say he would?  We could miss, in this story, that Jesus shows himself to the disciples while they are doubting.  Their doubts didn’t keep him away. Nor do ours.  What are our doubts today?  Where is Jesus showing himself? What is changing? What is he resurrecting in you and me?  Because, resurrection changes things.  Alleluia!

Come, young and old from every land – Men and women of the faith;
Come, those with full or empty hands – Find the riches of His grace.
Over all the world, His people sing – Shore to shore we hear them call
The Truth that cries through every age: “Our God is all in all”!

~ Keith and Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – I’ll take the chance

“Jesus rarely comes where we expect Him; He appears where we least expect Him, and always in the most illogical connections. The only way a worker can keep true to God is by being ready for the Lord’s surprise visits.” ~ Oswald Chambers

Happy Easter.  Christ is Risen!! It was a wonderful day, wasn’t it?

As some of you may have noticed, I didn’t send out A Friday Meditation last week.  I planned to and I wrote one.  The problem was that I didn’t know how to finish it. But, I’ll try again.

The Easter season celebrates the time that Jesus showed His risen self to the disciples.  It was always a surprise visit because they were not expecting him to show up.  They didn’t really understand what he was saying when he told them that he would be back in three days, so it took a minute or two for them to recognize him.

I can relate, even today, though I expect him to show up.  Let me explain. The choir sings at both of our Sunday services on Easter. As a member, I hoped to make it through both services since whatever illness it is that I keep fighting had me pretty worn out. I was doing OK when I went down the stairs from the choir loft at the second service to receive Communion.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a family of four wandering around the Narthex (lobby).  The father was looking in to the sanctuary through the windows in the closed doors.  I said hello.  I looked at them and they looked at me.  I thought she was going to say something, but she didn’t and I didn’t.  The rest of the choir came down, and the service continued.

As I sat in the loft after communion, a light bulb came on as I started thinking about that family.  What did they want or need?  Had they wanted to come to the service, but since it was pretty full, the doors were shut and they didn’t know what to do, they didn’t?  Did they need some help? I don’t know because I didn’t ask.  The thought struck me, “I just passed Jesus in the narthex and didn’t stop because I was on my way to communion.”  I was too focused on myself to stop and see what was needed. I was absolutely horrified when I realized this. I didn’t do it deliberately, but I wasn’t being aware.  I wasn’t “paying attention.” Sigh.

I am sorry and I prayed for forgiveness, but the scene hasn’t left me. This probably means that I’m having another growth opportunity.  Jesus works this way by turning our mistakes into a learning experience. This has happened to me before and it has changed me – transformed me, actually. I don’t know how I will be changed this time, but I know that I will – in awareness, I hope.

I have one more Easter story about a conversation my granddaughter had with her four-year old daughter – my great-granddaughter and God-daughter, Sarah.  Sarah: “Jesus died and came alive again.”  Mommie:  “Yes…?”  Sarah: “So, I think I’ll die.”  Mommie:  “No! You don’t need to die because Jesus rose again.”  Sarah:  “Well, I think I’ll chance it.”

Children put things so well. After I caught my breath from the shock of hearing this from a four-year old – I wondered what she was thinking – I remembered that we all must die to our ego-centered selves so that Jesus can be resurrected in us and so that we can be transformed into his image.  Thanks be to God.  It’s hard but I think I’ll chance it. I need to.