“Can’t Stop Crying”
Easter Sunday – March 27, 2016 – Year C
Last September I returned from a 3 month sabbatical and shared with you that I am profoundly changed. The time of rest, renewal and new experiences was a life changing gift. I am better able to speak up for myself. I have better clarity when to address an issue and when to let it slide by. But most important, I feel sadness with greater intensity and joy with more delight. “Christ is Risen! Alleluia”
It was liberating to visit the various sister churches and witness that they are facing the same challenges we are. The myth that our partners in faith have lots of children, many small group ministries, and vibrant youth ministry programs is simply not true. They struggle just as much as we do to draw the younger demographic. Their music ministry is louder but not any better than ours. So, I stand before you proclaiming loud and clear that Jesus Christ is as dramatically present here at Penticton United Church as He is in our sister churches throughout town and indeed throughout the world. With humble pride we announce, “Christ is Risen! Alleluia”
While in Scotland last August I was intensely changed. I walked the land of my forebears and saw the cathedrals and remnants that date back to the first Christian message in Scotland. It was humbling to sit in 1700 year old pews. It was haunting to feel Christ’s presence as I prayed while in cemeteries holding the last earthly remains of sojourners of the 3rd and 4th Century. “Christ is Risen! Alleluia”
4 weeks ago 20 people of our congregation sat in the parlour and participated in a workshop on “Looking to our Future” facilitated by Rev. Richard and Joanne Simpson. We looked at our Mission and Vision statements and listed all that we do to live out what we proclaim Penticton United Church to be all about. 7 pieces of flip chart paper were quickly filled identifying what we do so that we are “a place of nurturing, spiritual growth and Christian service”. After spending a year or more feeling discouraged and ready to give up on being a vibrant church, we left that workshop feeling positive about ourselves and our ministry. We do indeed have a vital ministry on the corner of Eckhardt and Main streets. We are planning a follow up meeting to guide us for the next 5 to 10 years. “Christ is Risen! Alleluia”
Throughout the 40 days of Lent, I have been using John Randolph Price’s book “The
Abundance Book” as a guide for meditations. There are 10 meditations that are to be used 4 times each for 15 minutes each day. These short, but evocative reflections have helped me to know God in new and exciting ways. Experiencing God as Abundant I Am, Truthful Prosperity, and Source of Delight has been a remarkable practice. I am overwhelmed by the power and grace of God’s mystery. “Christ is Risen! Alleluia”
I invite you to walk with Mary to the empty tomb. It is a journey we all must make. It can feel like a long, lonely walk. Although, the vision ahead is so startling that we forget that we are in a burial site. A man runs ahead and looks into the cave. He is startled. And so am I. What about you? An empty tomb catches us off guard. I start crying. Something has happened. “Where have they taken Jesus’ body,” I cry? Mary also is crying. She stands weeping outside the tomb.
Jesus whispers her name, “Mary.” – “I have seen the Lord,” she tells the disciples. Tears continue to stream down her cheeks. “Christ is Risen! Alleluia”
Have you too seen the risen Christ? Have you encountered the Holy Mystery? Are you filled with Holy tears? Will you breath in the awe and wonder of Christ’s resurrection? “Christ is Risen! Alleluia”
Easter is a time of many miracles. Often we limit it to birds in flight, animals birthing young, and tender plants sprouting new life. But the greatest miracle is each one of us gathering in worship acknowledging that “Christ is Risen! Alleluia. May it be so. Amen.