REFLECTIONS ON THE JOURNEY (still in the midst of a pandemic)
A moment with Transitional Regional Minister, Sandy Messick
A wonderful scene in the Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, comes after the grinch has stolen all the presents and trimmings, but Christmas comes anyway. He ponders this saying, “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
This past Sunday, Easter came. So in the spirit of Dr. Seuss, without the rhymes (a poet I am not) here is my offering:
Easter came. It came without Easter egg hunts or overflowing church buildings. It came without choir cantatas or crowds gathered in parking lots, admiring new Easter dresses, and processing into church together. It came without pews packed with people and extended families gathered around Easter dinner tables. It came without hugs and pecks on the cheek and congregations huddled together in the cold to welcome the sunrise.
Easter came. But then, Easter always comes. And has come in the darkest of times. In the middle of war, in the center of battlefields, Easter came. In the refugee camps and homeless shelters Easter came. And yes, in the middle of a global pandemic, Easter came.
Because Easter was never dependent on our gathering in church buildings. Or gathering for Easter brunches. Or standing shoulder to shoulder to sing Easter hymns. And though we look forward to the day when those things can and will happen again, this year reminded us that the Easter story isn’t about what we do to celebrate, but what God has done and does again and again. Easter is the promise that life wins out over death. That love is stronger than hate. That in the midst of the darkness, light will shine. Easter is God’s promise that new life awaits and God’s love remains.
In this Easter season, we celebrate that Easter came, that life is renewed, that hope prevails.
Blessings to you this Easter season,
A Spirit who Comforts
In a time when life expectancy was around 40 years, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) lived more than twice that long. The Benedictine abbess and mystic wrote books and music, founded two convents, conducted four “preaching tours” and much more, despite chronic illness, lack of schooling, grave self-doubt and a male-dominated church and society. Perhaps these poetry excerpts reveal her source of strength and inspiration:
O comforting fire of Spirit,
Life, within the very Life of all Creation.
Holy you are in giving life to All. …
O sacred breath, O fire of love …
O most pure fountain
through whom it is known
that God has united strangers
and inquired after the lost. …
You always draw out knowledge,
bringing joy through Wisdom's inspiration.
Therefore, praise be to you
who are the sound of praise
and the greatest prize of Life,
who are hope and richest honor
bequeathing the reward of Light.
The Mount Vernon First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ gathers together as a community of faith, declaring Jesus our Christ, the one who reconciles us with God and with each other. We provide a place of traditional worship in a forthright, supportive, and open atmosphere. We are a congregation committed to serving local and global outreach ministries.
Steve & Lela Coleman
"A Caring, Welcoming, Community of Faith"
Rev. Liz and Rev Jack Miller would like to welcome you to the Saint Clare Pastoral Center website. We are part of the Ecumenical Catholic Communion* (ECC), the largest independent catholic jurisdiction in the United States, and a member of the National Council of Churches. Our denomination traces its history through the European Old Catholic Churches who came together in opposition to the declaration of papal infallibility established by the First Vatican Council (1869-70). Their mission was to offer valid sacraments that are open to all those seeking a faith community whose beliefs are grounded in the traditions of the early Christian church, while maintaining the basic integrity of the Catholic liturgy.
• National Day of Prayer, May 7, 2020
• Mother’s Day, May 10, 2020
• Armed Forces Day, May 16, 2020
• Victoria Day (Canada), May 18, 2020
• Ascension Day, May 21, 2020
• Memorial Day, May 25, 2020
• Pentecost, May 31, 2020
A Prayer for Memorial Day
We remember, O Lord, all those people throughout the years who have made the supreme sacrifice for our country, for liberty, for us. Whenever we breathe the air of freedom or claim the right to justice or enjoy the privilege of worship, fill us with gratitude for those who selflessly gave the last full measure of devotion — their very lives — for our benefit.
May these brave men and women now know the joy of eternity and your presence. And may the families of the fallen receive comfort and peace amid their grief. Help us as we minister to their needs. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Wine of the Spirit
“No one puts new wine into old wineskins,” said Jesus (Luke 5:37). Drawing on this statement, a preacher in sixth-century Africa proclaimed in a Pentecost homily:
“It was with good reason, then, that some people, when they heard the apostles speaking in every tongue, said, ‘They are filled with the new wine.’ For they had become fresh wineskins, they had been renewed by the grace of holiness, so that when they were filled with the new wine, that is, with the Holy Spirit, they spoke with fervor in every tongue. …
"Celebrate, then, this day as members of the one body of Christ. Your celebration will not be in vain if you are what you celebrate, if you hold fast to the church which the Lord filled with his Holy Spirit.”
Fifteen centuries later, may that call still resonate with us. May we be so renewed by God’s grace as to be worthy vessels of the new wine of the Holy Spirit — and to share it with the world.
Of Patience and Pruning
In many parts of America, Mother’s Day is the recommended date for planting flowers outdoors. Subjecting blooms to the elements any sooner is risky, though sunny spring days sure make waiting tough. Perhaps that’s why poet May Sarton calls gardening “an instrument of grace,” for it “slows us down and forces patience.”
Courage is also required. Gardeners “must be brave enough to cut back the old and sit with bare branches, awaiting new growth,” writes Cheryl Richardson (Waking Up in Winter). “And we must trust that it will come.” When God prunes us, we too must trust that new growth and new life are in store … and then patiently wait.
Fed by the Father
God loves his little birds; for all
his tender care he shows;
a single sparrow cannot fall
but its Creator knows. …
God loves each little bird; but still
more tender is his care
for children who obey his will,
than for the fowls of air.