Wednesday, April 25

nuggets for your wednesday

every couple of months, i go sing for a lovely little congregational church here in fort myers. the music director is an old voice teacher of mine, and they invite me to come and share my music talents with them.

i feel very loved and welcomed, and have learned a lot in attending their service. their pastor, pastor doug, follows the catholic lectionary in planning out the reading of the gospel and the substance of his sermons every Sunday, so it's always very close to what i hear in the mass that day. i love how closely we are united.

i went and shared my original song empty this past Sunday with them. i wanted to share with you some nuggets of wisdom that i gleaned from pastor doug's beautiful sermon -- a refresher: the gospel reading presented Jesus appearing to his disciples following the episode on the road to emmaeus. he gives to them his peace and allows them to find certainty within his nail marks and side wound.

first, my own meditation of the day: i was pondering how mary magdalene arrives at the scene of Jesus' resurrection and discovers the empty tomb. we ourselves are not meant to be empty tombs; we are meant to be alive with our lord, living tabernacles housing his presence here on earth, shining beacons of his eternal love and grace. the world has enough death and darkness, enough emptiness and despair. let us come alive with his holy spirit.

in his sermon, paster doug made the interesting point that on the road to emmaeus, the disciples did not recognize Jesus because they did not expect him to be there. how often do we miss seeing our Lord because we do not acknowledge his constant presence in our life. or how often do we miss him in this moment now, because we are too focused on rectifying the errors of the past or controlling events of the future? find Jesus now, in this moment. expect to encounter him in every detail of your day. know him in the breaking of the bread, as his disciples did. he reveals himself to us so perfectly and fully in the Eucharist. if nothing else, we find him there - he gives us that taste of himself, and then calls us to find him elsewhere, everywhere.

we must be transformed by that encounter with Jesus. it is not enough simply to attend church on Sundays and call yourself a follower of Christ. along with the disciples, we must move from fearful hiding in the upper room to the boldness and fire of pentecost. we must cast off our former selves who have died and enter into the resurrection, our new selves in Jesus. we must let go of complacency and seek instead a new courage in this time when faithful believers are so needed.

our Lord needs warriors. he needs those who will fight against the powers of darkness, while at the same time extending a loving hand to our brothers and sisters who do not yet know and understand. we hate the sin, but love the sinner, and seek always to bring another soul home to the fold. there is always room at the table for another hungry soul.

finally, there is the unbelievable promise our Lord extends to us in the resurrection - if we believe that Jesus could conquer death, break the chains that bind us and bring us into new life, how can we not believe that he can restore us and make us whole in this life? he can do all this and more.

believe in this moment. sense his presence now and always. remember the black night of the crucifixion leads inexorably into the dawn of the resurrection.

let not your hearts be troubled.

here is the prayer we prayed to close the service:
O holy and awesome Lord, we are stunned by the miracle of the resurrection.
we are stunned by the forgiveness you offer to us.
but, when our awe turns to disbelief, renew us with your joy. 
when our fear turns to rejection, lead us into your presence.
when our stumbling leads to sin, forgive us and direct our steps in your paths of righteousness.
in Christ's name we pray. Amen. 

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