Finding 50 Righteous Men

“How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave is their sin. I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know,” so saith the Lord to Abraham in Genesis 18. The outcry must have been great, 24/7 on cable channels and in daily newspapers around the world. Sodom and Gomorrah must have been very depraved.

Licentiousness, injustice, violence, evil-doers are thriving, yet Abraham pleads for them. “Suppose there are 50 righteous men within the city; will you then sweep away the place?” The Lord replies, “If I can find at Sodom 50 righteous men in the city, then I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” 50 righteous men; therein lies the conundrum.

A boy scout of a man runs for elective office; his text messages reveal an inner life hidden from the public persona we see. His opponent has gall; who knows what skeletons may inhabit his own past? A purportedly righteous man is president of a Christian college. Then, whoa! He gets caught with his pants down. Literally. Another man who, if we are honest, mocks, bullies, lies, sleeps around, pays porn stars off. And what do you know, he is the president. Complicity with what is obviously wrongdoing is a plague unto itself; and 214,000 plus people have met a swifter death than they needed to because there have not been 50 righteous men to impact outcomes. We wait for shoes to fall in a world of millipedes and the shoes drop by the dozens.

Sodom and Gomorrah fall. They might blame it on God, but it appears, the people of the city have such blindness to their sin, they collapse on their own hubris. The writer of Genesis says the people are so blind, they cannot find the way to the door that will let them out of the coming destruction. The account of the fallen city bears a message for us today. Are our eyes open enough to see what is going on; are our ears open enough to hear the message?

Righteousness is not the same as goodness; not the same as niceness. Righteousness means right relationship – with God, with our fellow humans, all with whom we share the planet, with all creation that includes the animals and the natural order. Can we be counted among the 50 who are righteous? Can we even ask ourselves, and give honest answers, without being defensive and self-protective. Will we find a way to confession and compassion? Or will we turn to pillars of salt and melt into the coming storms?  

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When Rancor Enters the House

My husband, Tom, writes editorials that appear in newspapers across the state. Recently he wrote two columns dealing with racial reckoning. I read them before they were published. I give thanks for the justice journey my husband is on. He is using his voice to speak truth into the racism that has permeated our nation since the 17th century.

Tom’s awakening, however, has been met in ugly ways that make their way into our house – through the mailbox and the inbox. I have read his mail. Not only is a lot of it sickening, it is saddening, grievously saddening. What are we coming to?

The responses he has gotten go far beyond healthy debate on issues. They are accusatory, demeaning, calling him a Marxist, calling him anti-American, accusing him of being a socialist. Usually people know us before they hate us. Pre-formed talking points amplify the hate-full echo chamber that surrounds so much that is going on today.

I can turn the radio off. I can turn television off. If I hear one more time….”you Democrats” or “you Republicans,” I will vomit. Party names have become slurs. There is no civility across the spectrum. But usually the ugliness is out there, not in here. It feels so dirty in the house.

So interesting to me that the pandemic has made me realize some things. First, how precious life is. Second, I can live a more sheltered, cloistered life and be perfectly fine with it. I have remembered prayer without ceasing and thanksgiving for all creation. I am happy with a small life. Then we open the mail.

One thing both Tom and I have decided. We will work for justice and equity. The naysayers, deniers, conspiracy theorists, and white supremacists will live with whatever consequences their words evoke. As for me and my house, we will love God and neighbor and speak truth with love. Bring it on, people. I will add your names to my growing prayer list. God save us all.

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September Silence: A time of prayer for the healing of the world.

September Silence: A Time of Prayer for the Healing of the World

O Lord, in your mercy, hear the prayers of our hearts. Your world groans and your people weep in the sickness, fear, and disruption that envelopes us. We need to come apart from the world in silence and prayer. We need silence as the season changes into a new flu season, more time indoors, and a political storm swirling around us that will not end even with an election. Have mercy on us, Lord. Teach us your ways in a time that feels in freefall. Catch us in your grace and love and heal us that we may find our way back to wholeness and You. Amen.

This invitation goes out to you, A Virtual Church, for a time of reflection and prayer as we live these stress filled days.  You are invited to find a favorite space, a chair outside in the chilly morning or a quiet spot inside. Light a candle, get your journal, your Bible, and art supplies if you would like to doodle your prayers. Set aside an hour for silent prayer and meditation. I am providing prompts for worship and prayer. God will find you wherever you are.

Morning Prayer

Early morning light breaks and day begins; You are still with us.  Praise for the morning. Praise for creation. May the praise and thanksgiving we offer you fill us with hope and assurance that all is well. In this time of silence, O Lord, hear our prayer. Amen

Read Psalm 66. What does it speak to you today?

Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Intercessions:

  • For the Church – its ministry and mission – its leadership, pastors and lay people – for the Bishops – for clarity in ways to be the church during this pandemic – for each of us to go deeper in the ways we love and serve God
  • For the State – For our governor and legislature and all who lead and make decisions on behalf of the people of North Carolina – for agencies of the state that are strained under the pressures of Covid – Health and Human Services and all who serve the people working with infrastructure and natural event problems
  • For the Nation – for our president and the congress that they will do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly on behalf of all the people of America – for judges and justices that their decisions will be thoughtful and fair – for all who serve in positions of power, that they may see themselves as public servants and serve to benefit the many and not only the few.
  • For students, teachers, principals, administrators of schools from pre-school to graduate school.
  • For the Media – for all who seek truth and transparency. Let fairness prevail. Let the rhetoric subside all around. Let our media remember lessons of kindness and truth telling.
  • For Health Care Workers and First Responders – prayers of strength and health for all who serve on front lines – Covid caregivers, fire fighters, EMC and Rescue workers
  • For all Essential Workers – Mail deliverers, grocery store workers, Amazon delivery people, Fed Ex, UPS, Pizza and other food delivery workers, for all the low wage workers in the stores that remain open
  • For all who suffer – for those with Covid 19, for families who worry and fear for their loved ones whom they cannot even visit – for all who have lost jobs and incomes –
  • For peace in our communities – for reckoning with racism in our country and state – for healing and forgiveness for all who have faced racism and hatred – a prayer for police and all who are in harm’s way today –
  • Add your intercession here:

In your great mercy, Almighty God, we offer our prayers, our hearts, and our time today to rest in you and find renewal. Give us guidance and boldness to find new life even in our weariness. Strengthen us through the power of your Holy Spirit that our hope will indeed be renewed. Lead us to still waters, to deeper faith, to good decisions, to greater charity, to lasting equity, and righteousness that comes from you. Thank you for the gift of life and breath this day.  Amen.  

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This.

“Let love be genuine. Hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.”

                                                                                                Romans 12: 9 – 21

Great heaviness of heart is hard to escape some days. Edginess in conversations; great differences in interpretation of events around me feel unsettling and disturbing. Sometimes it feels that there are two realities. I remember when first studying post-modern culture that one of the characteristics of the new era would be that truth was no longer absolute. I wondered what that meant at the time; now we are living it in real time.

When I read the Romans text, which was the lectionary text for last week, it struck me that I need a little more of this kind of being in the world and a little less of all that is weighing me down. I am not helpless and I have nothing to fear. I am called to seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God. I am generally not a confrontational person. I don’t like conflict and will back down in great mea culpa most of the time. I don’t feel like doing that now.

Last night we hosted five college students, our granddaughter and four of her Tar Heel Voices friends. It was a glorious, uplifting night. Spaghetti and song go a long way to bring joy into a room. The UNC students talked about their school year and their hopes for moving forward. They talked about life and the way of the world. They recognize that they will be responsible for carrying forth a mantle of truth, goodness and joy into the world. It was a most restorative evening for Tom and me.

I am tired of being sick and tired of the way some things are being lived out and spoken into. I am tired of tirades by the left and the right on the radio and television. I hope for a steady middle ground on which to stand. I also have realized even more that I need time for quiet reflection and prayer. Prayer. Prayer. And more prayer. It’s the only way I can find peace in the storm.

Paul gives such good instruction for living in turmoil. This. This way of being in the world seems so simple, yet it calls for much intention to live in truth and authenticity, joy and mutual affection. From Rush to Rachel to Romans there is such difference. But I choose Romans as a way to return to civility and abundant life. When we lose civility in our daily discourse, does civilization even stand a chance? When truth is malleable, when dismissal of science and research and contortion of facts become normalized, could we be headed into another Dark Age?

My prayer going home last week was born out of the heavy heart seeking renewal. I share it with you in all its rawness:

O God, a heavy heart will not raise the world. A fearful heart will back away in silence and reticence. Quiet sometimes is not restorative; it is only escape. O God, renew my faith that all things work together for good, and that your power is still all encompassing. Renew my hope in a world filled with hopelessness, ugly rhetoric, division, and degradation of the values that have made of us a great people. Create a new heart in me, one that knows your peace and graciousness. Fill me so full of You that it pours out of me in every word and every gesture. Let me be gentle in the world, slow, thoughtful, fearless. Faith and hope that we as Americans can indeed build a more perfect union, faith and hope that we can live the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven are my prayer. Only You can save us from the out of control ego and the anger born of un-knowing. Be present in powerful ways and unexpected turns. Lead me, Lord; lead me in your righteousness. Amen.

This.

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Forgotten History

A Reflection on Exodus 1:8 – 2:10

“Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” With this one line, a statement of history forgotten, great change comes to the land of Egypt. Joseph the dreamer is a hero in the Pharaoh’s household. Fat cows and skinny cows foretell famine that will come after times of plenty. The Egyptians are spared starvation and Joseph is reunited with his brothers who are also spared the hardship of famine.

Immediately after the king reveals his great un-knowing, fear overtakes him. Who are these foreign people and why are they here? We must do something before they “increase and join our enemies and fight against us. Let us set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor.” Oppression of the Hebrew people begins as a king, ignorant of history, grows fearful and dangerous. Is ignorance of history still dangerous?

We hear it said that history repeats itself; cycles of relative peace, then oppression or some other disruption. In the end a redeemer rises up to carry forth the story of God’s people. Forgotten history keeps us on the merry-go-round, always travelling in circles, never really going anywhere.

This text is the beginning of the Moses story, the great redemption story of the Hebrew Scriptures. Moses, the stutterer, is a most reluctant player. Yet Moses realizes his calling and Moses has not forgotten the history of God and God’s covenant with the beloved community.

Forgotten history plagues us today. We are fighting each other because we have forgotten our common bonds, as people of faith, as Americans, as citizens together whirling through space on a very small planet. We have selective amnesia about the good ole days. Not everybody lived in the plantation house. Not everybody had electricity, running water, food. Not everybody had a vote or a voice. We have selectively remembered those things that prop up our own narrative, our own hegemony.

Lest we forget, we fail God when we do not remember Joseph and all the dreamers of history. We grow smaller and smaller, weaker and weaker as we forget. There is much that is ugly in history. There is much that has oppressed and denied and short-changed and killed as we have forgotten who we are called to be. God’s economy does not short-change anyone.

Thankfully every day is a new beginning…”time to remember and move on..” as the song says. We stand on the shoulders of a checkered history in America. Now is the time, this is the moment when we are being called to remember history, the good, the bad, the ugly and to search our hearts and souls to learn a new way, the way of grace, and goodness, and Christ in the world. Forgotten history leads us to dark places. Look up. Look forward. Keep all that is good and learn from the bad. This is how redemption works. This is Resurrection.

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A Virtual Church

 

In the story of the Ascension of Jesus, there is  – at the beginning of the story of the Church – a final commission: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

I began my first retirement in 2011. I failed at it. Yet I knew even then there was more in me to do for God. More witness, more words, more love and more to say about God and a relationship with Christ. I decided on the name and concept of A Virtual Church. After I secured the domain name, I wrote about what a Virtual Church would be. This is what is I wrote on my website:

“If the Church is the Body of Christ for the world, then a Virtual Church is that body without bounds. A Virtual Church is a place of speaking hope, praying for healing, offering communion with others, reflecting on God’s Word in Scripture, and engaging in thoughtful reflection on the world. A Virtual Church is a voice for offering peace to anyone on the planet who needs word of encouragement and life.”

Who knew that the Great Pandemic of 2020 would make most all the church virtual? Who even now knows the opportunity of that to reach the far ends of the earth with the Good News of Christ who often tells us – Be not afraid, and offers us an invitation to follow in ways that bring peace and rest. The opportunity for witness in the world has never been greater, both in the work that is done online, and in the boots on the ground ways of serving our communities. Ours is not an ordinary time.

What we offer online is for a world bigger than our own congregations. As I have scrolled through all the worship offerings from churches around the world, I see a world soaked in the Good News. The biggest challenge is that our culture is so slick with media graphics, music, gloss and mirrors, the simple story of Jesus may get lost among the competing voices and stories. What is shared online needs to be creative, compelling and relevant. Our shared word needs to serious, and honest, plain, hopeful, life saving truth. I am not a great believer in the theatrics of worship, yet certain amounts of those production values can show tender care of the Word we share. Herein lies the conundrum of the Virtual Church.

I think of the Abbas and Ammas and their voices from the desert place that still impact the faith. I think of Julien in the anchorage writing words for the ages. In the end, glitz and gloss do not a faith make. The word goes out into a field ripe for harvest, a life giving word. Yet the wheat wants a hook and a show. When the word falls like gentle rain on the parched field, the harvest comes alive.

For me in my little Virtual Church, I pray to offer healing words and words of hope. For ears and hearts who seek wholeness and peace, God will find you beyond the clamor and noise. Do not be afraid still is the call of Jesus in the world. I pray that all the church will live into the opportunity that is ours today and the world will live the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

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Stephen and the Mob


A Reflection on Acts 7: 55 – 60

Stephen’s rise to leadership begins much earlier in Acts. “Choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.” The Twelve are so busy tending the needs of widows and orphans and distributing food, the ministry of the word is being neglected. They choose Stephen and six others and lay hands on them to go and preach the word. And the gospel spreads rapidly.

There is unrest among the people. Economic disparity, mis-treatment of the most vulnerable populations and growing ideological and social “camps” are stressing the people. Sharing equally in the community of goods is problematic to some. (Wasn’t this written in the paper this morning?)

And there is one other new and annoying thing raising eyebrows. Stephen is bringing life and hope to a people outside the Temple. Stephen is a charismatic leader who, like Jesus, threatens the status quo. The opposition voices fear the change that will come in Stephen’s leadership. Change and fear of losing power stir angst and anger against Stephen and a mob is born.

Interesting that the mob against Stephen is like the mob against Jesus who end up shouting, “Crucify him. Crucify him.” Seems that mobs forget reason and civility and the seeking of mutual ideals just to get their own way. “Where have all the good guys gone? Long time passing. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” Thank you PPM for an eternal question: When will we ever learn?  

Mobs are roaming downtown Raleigh this week. Para-military units loaded with weapons and hate symbols protest a government that is working to balance public health and the economy. Never mind that. Mob mentality has no room for hearing both sides. It’s my way or the highway. If the virus doesn’t keep us in, fear of protesters with assault weapons surely will. Seems a little like defeating their own purpose.

In New Hanover County, Wilmington area, just two hours from here, a mob gathered on the front porch of a young Black high school senior demanding entrance to his home for questioning about girl who was missing. The officer present jammed his foot in the door so that the young man could not close it against the mob. Then someone noticed the sign in the young man’s front yard. It had his picture on it and a big “Congratulations, Senior!” Someone realized they were intimidating the wrong Black man. And someone else called the police.

Life is going to change in lots of ways as we live and die our way through this pandemic. And there are huge swaths of life that need to change if we will ever be healed. Racism has to be called out as the evil it is. Hate needs to be shunned and hate groups need to be shamed into non-existence. We don’t need more martyrs like Stephen. We need strong, ordinary people who will stand up to the pot-stirrers and hate-mongers and say, not on my watch.

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We Had Hoped

W

This is a sermon I preached at Saint Mark’s UMC in Raleigh, NC on May 3, 2015.

Read: Luke 24: 13 – 23; 28 – 35      The Walk to Emmaus

These guys must not have been told by their Mamas: “Never talk to strangers!” ‘cause that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’re reviewing the events of the day, looking sad. The stranger asks: “What are you talking about?”  Now we could spend time talking about the risks and potential danger of talking to strangers, but in this case, let’s just be thankful they did.

They walked together engaged in conversation. Their eyes were kept from recognizing him and they expressed their disappointment: We Had Hoped…What was it they had hoped for and not received? They had gotten to listen to Jesus. They had gotten to see the healing work and hear the lessons of the kingdom of God. What was it they had hoped for and not gotten?

They had hoped for a thousand years that a Messiah would come, the great military leader in the line of David who would restore the fortunes of Zion. They had hoped for a king who would rally the troops to crush the Roman Empire.  They had hoped that Jesus was this Messiah.

Perhaps they had hoped for a great reformer in the Temple, one who would rid the temple of bad practices and corruption, false piety and self-righteousness. Perhaps they had hoped for one who would set the temple right in obedience to God.  Perhaps they had hoped for one who would fulfill the hopes and fears of all the years, as had been spoken by the prophets.

Could they have hoped they themselves might increase in influence and reputation by knowing a shining star in the field of prophecy and teaching? And at the end had they hoped their friend would survive all the pushback he was beginning to encounter?

Closed eyes and lost hope are not uncommon. We stumble through life  tunnel-visioned, with low perceptibility, little clarity, our eyes close as discernment clouds.  It’s pretty easy to turn a blind eye. And even easier to lose hope as life and circumstances drag us down taking us away in busyness and lowered expectations. We do not practice patient hope even when the hope of the world is born among us.

The words “we had hoped” struck me as I heard Olu Brown read this text at the preaching festival last week. Hope is a central component of the story of God throughout the entire Scriptural text. We are not a people who live without hope. For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a future and a hope. My hope is in you, Lord. Yet the disciples this morning are speaking in a past perfect tense: we had hoped. They might as well have said, “It’s over.” Our hope is ended.

But Jesus does not let that happen. Jesus meets them on this well travelled road in an active presence walking alongside them and talking about the scripture with them. Our Lord may be perfect, but our Lord is not a past perfect God; Our Lord is an active present God; What ever the disciples thought, all that has happened in the past few hours and days is not the end of God’s story.

In a lot of ways it might so much easier to love the Jesus who calls us from fishing and walks up the mountain to teach; the Jesus who touches the leper and the blind man and the woman with a hemorrhage. That’s a Jesus to follow, to count on for wisdom and healing. That’s a Jesus we can pattern our lives after; hard to do but easier to get a hold on ‘cause there is no mystery to it.

That kind of following reduces us to doing the do’s and avoiding the don’ts, but Olu Brown, suggests that that kind of following keeps us in chromos time… the way we mortals keep time in life and death, beginnings and endings – a linear kind of living. Resurrection calls us to a different time-keeping: kairos time, God’s time, the Eternal Now, Perfect Precious Present kind of time. This is the fullness of time beyond measure; beyond our empirical understanding. This Resurrection time is where Jesus meets the disciples on the Road to Emmaus. And their eyes are closed to seeing him.

It’s in the breaking of bread that their eyes are opened and they know who this stranger is.  Bishop William Morris tells a story about such a kind of knowing . Whey he was a little boy his family lived in one of those shotgun kind of houses. Some days he would rush into the house after school, He couldn’t see his mama, even though he thought she was home. Then the smell of brownies in the oven met him in the hallway. She was there…. In the kitchen. An ordinary smell assured him that he was not alone in the house. She was with him. He knew she was there by the smell of the brownies filling the house. The ways we are known to one another vary; Sensory perception – heart knowledge – eyes of the heart – God works to meet us through every cell of our being and very ordinary things open our eyes to knowing Jesus.

The invitation to participate in a life with Jesus beyond the bonds of time is offered on the Emmaus Road; they had seen Jesus do this a lot at the table. Bread taken, blessed, broken and given that they might have life. They could see clearly now. This was Jesus who was present with them. Their eyes opened to the promise; Christ is with them-Grace upon grace; hope upon hope – restored. 

Here at the table of the Lord on Sunday morning, Jesus is present with us: the invitation comes not from Saint Mark’s, not from the United Methodist Church, but from Christ our Lord and we come… we know – we see – we hope and grace falls down upon us, grace that has the power to change us from the inside out. This is the grace that fuels our hope and calms our fears. This is the thin place where we meet the living God, the Resurrected Christ who is known to us in the breaking of bread. This is where we taste and see that God is good. This is where we enter kairos time in the Mystery we speak every week – Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will  come again.

This is our hope, our active present hope going forward. Open our eyes, Lord that we too may see you and know you and follow you with our whole lives. Amen.

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Doubt


Dear Thomas, what questions you leave us with! You come into the room with such doubt. Jesus has already stood with the others. Where have you been? What have you been thinking before this moment? To come late and full of doubt is actually not a good look for you. So, Thomas, this whole telling of your story is pretty bad for your reputation. Just saying. Then again, maybe you are OK with the moniker Doubting Thomas.

O Lord Jesus, unless I can see with my own eyes and touch your wounds… well, what am I left with? Practical inquiry. Reasonable question. Empirical knowledge. That’s what we need. Right? Thomas, are you sure you don’t live right down the street from me? Are you part of my family? You are here. Or at least your spirit still lives where I live.

Today’s world is full of doubters and more doubters, replicated till their voices resound in pitch perfect skepticism and mistrust. Who are the reliable sources? Who are the voices that bring healing calm? And why does it seem like the louder voices are those ringing with vitriol and mean-spiritedness?

I have always thought of doubt as the prod for faith building, the place where the knowing and the unknowing live a push-pull creative tension. Doubt becomes the place where dynamic faith is grown. Doubt seeds the questions and the questions stretch us even when they go unanswered.

The story of Thomas from John 20: 19 – 31 speaks to a personal doubt that needs tangible proof. Thomas’s doubt is about seeing before believing. “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

I have not seen the world from outer space, but I believe the world is round and not flat, as some in the world today still believe. I have not seen the glaciers cracking and melting, nor have I seen thick air pollution over Beijing and Los Angeles, but I have seen weather changes and increasing storms. I believe in science and environmental research while doubters and deniers abound even as the water rises. I have not been in a New York Hospital, or in Milan, Italy to see how COVID 19 is impacting lives, but I believe what I see in the media. People are dying and body counts are mounting. Even funeral homes are overwhelmed. Still there are some in the world who are calling this pandemic a hoax.

Who will we trust? In what or whom will we have faith? Who among us is building trustworthiness? When we cling more to ideology, dismissing and demeaning those who do not agree with us, the doubt wins and we all lose. Throwing stones destroys goodwill and sets a divide that hurts everybody. How much more of the acrimony seeded by doubt can we live before completely breaking?

Jesus reveals his wounds and invites Thomas to believe. Our world is wounded; God’s people everywhere are hurting. Now is a time to grow faith and build trust. Now is the time to take a leap toward all that is good, all that is God. In this season after Easter, may we encounter the risen Christ and find new hope that restores and saves. Through our believing, we will find new life. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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Mary Went to the Phone


Perhaps it was that my mouth outran my brain, or the other way around. Or perhaps in light of this COVID 19 shelter in place order of the day, that I actually was prescient. I stood in the parking lot at Saint Francis UMC to lead the Sunrise Service on Easter Morning. As I read from the gospel of John, “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the —-wait for it—- PHONE.

I heard myself say it. Brain lapse. I hope I said something like, “I hate these new translations,” but I likely just lowered and shook my head, mortified that I had screwed up the most glorious reading of the whole story of Jesus. I still shake my head when I think about it. People still remember this Sunrise Reading of the story of the Resurrection. I usually am reminded about it at this time of the year. “Where is Mary going this year? Is Mary still going to the phone?”

Actually this year, 2020, when physical distancing is necessary, going to the phone or the iPad is probably a good idea for Mary and all of us. Many pastors, musicians, Bishops and other church leaders will be filling the cyber sphere and the Internet with the Good News that Christ is Risen. One will need only to scroll through our Facebook feeds and You Tube videos to hear the message of Easter. That in itself is good news.

The Corona virus is taking a huge toll on us, we humans, all around the world. Suffering is not partisan, nor is it particular to one people or one continent. Death tolls are startling, even to funeral home companies. And for every death counted, there are families, extended families, and friends who grieve each person lost to them. The grief is compounded as financial pressures also mount. In the months since the journey with an unleashed virus began, life has changed drastically. Our new journey will not let us dismiss or ignore the pain of death. Death is not a hoax.

What we can do is invite Mary to the phone. Hear someone read the story she lived with the Risen Christ. Or read it yourself: John 20: 1 – 18. Then go stand on your front steps and shout to the world, “Christ is Risen. Christ is Risen indeed.” You may hear the birds sing a response. You may feel the breeze softly whispering, “O death, where is your sting? O death, where is your victory?”

The hope of Resurrection stands beyond the thief that is COVID 19. I pray that wherever you hear the good news, know the good news is for you and for all of us who hope. Jesus has prepared us for this moment: “I will not leave you comfortless; do not be afraid.” Easter is ours to claim because we believe this promise. We are not alone. Christ is Risen and death is defeated. Mary, pick up the phone and tell someone new that you have seen the Lord. Amen.

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