A Choice of Yokes

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(This is a synopsis of today’s sermon)

I am sitting at my favorite diner. I am the only person inside. Everyone else is out on the covered patios.

There are only a few tables inside. The diner is in an old train station, long and narrow, with the kitchen and grills alongside each other. Because of spacing rules, there are only three tables inside. The rest are on the patio and deck.

I like being inside. The rattle of pans and clank of the metal spatulas busy at work combine with the good music the owner plays each day are a happy background for me. I can work, or pay attention to the music. (Today, it’s old-time blues.). At times, the cook sings. At times, I sing with him.

I have been coming here a long time, maybe seven or eight years. I’ve been here through five different owners, none of them except the current owners had staying power. I can’t tell you why they are making it when the others could not, but I can tell you their food is wonderful, the people are real, with no pretense to them, and they play good music.

Church is done. I am a part-time pastor of a small rural Vermont church. We worship earlyish, at 9 AM, so by noon I have not just finished; I have had time to go home and change into the old blue jeans and Eddie Bauer T-shirts that are my native attire in Summers. And I come here to write.

Most days, I write in the morning. I like to do it before my day gets going, to empty my head of all the toxic, hard thoughts early, so I can live the rest of my day the way I want to be: Gentle. At peace. I typically do some devotional, read in my bible, and then write both in my diary and here on one of my blogs.

It is a good way to begin my day. And this is a good place to do it.

There is a strange mix of anonymity and belonging here. At this point, I know many of the people who come here regularly. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes we just nod at each other. Most of them let me be as I write. At times, but rarely, someone will settle down across the table with something on their minds they want to talk to.

Mostly though. I just work with the background noise of sizzling grills and music. Having worked this way so long, the whole ambiance seems to tune my head into itself. It is almost like meditation.

I have spent so much of the last fifteen years coming to peace with myself. Nothing about it has been instant.

I have always treasured peace. Even when we went on vacations to places like Disney World, I would find the quiet places to sit, to take pictures, to rest. When I traveled overseas, my favorite memories were rarely the touristy places, but the odd nooks, empty churches and small villages. When I travel to places like New York City, you will find pictures of empty rooms in the museums, empty chapels in the cathedrals, back alleys.

That is what resonates.

It’s not that I can’t handle busyness and chaos. I have always performed pretty well in the world of constant change. It was the nature of my work for thirty years. I got a reputation for how well I dealt with the madness.

That all came undone when my own life came undone. It took a long time to get back to it, but as I did, I realized that the adrenaline hit of chaos held no charm for me any longer. I found I was a better person when I lived a larger portion of my life in peace. I made better decisions. I served others better. My anxiety level dropped to almost bill, where it lives to this day.

I probably always will.

This morning in church we talked about Grace. Grace’s actual definition is “the undeserved favor”. In religious terms, it means God loves us even when we mess up. He forgives us when we might not even forgive ourselves. Or we forgive people when perhaps they don’t deserve it.

It’s not about deserving. It’s not about tit for tat. It’s not about measuring sticks. It’s not about keeping score. It’s about our choice to love and forgive. Not what the other person does.

We focused on the verse where Jesus says “Come to me all who are heavy laden and lay your burden upon me.”  What a verse! What a promise! How many of us have leaned on that promise when things have come undone, when things are too hard or too much for us to bear. My guess is that it is one of the most remembered and most called on verses in the bible. We so need that sense that Jesus will lighten our burden, that we are not alone.

Jesus talks about how his yoke is light. That it is humble and full of love. A far different kind of yoke than the one we put on when we try to live out our holiness with rules and regulations first. A far different kind of yoke than we have to deal with when we are living in anger.

We are living in a time of anger. It is in our newspapers. It is on TV. It runs rampant on the internet and in social media. Everyone is angry at everyone else who believes something different.

Have you ever stopped to see how heavy a burden anger is? Anger causes anxiety. Anger strains our body. Anger makes us do things we would not otherwise do. Anger tears things down. At times, beyond saving. It destroys relationships.

What a burden!

And what a difference living in love presents. A whole different kind of yoke. Love brings peace. Love relaxes our body and leaves us with a sense of safety. It reduces anxiety. We never have to regret things said in true, Corinthians 13 kind of love. Love builds. It builds relationships.

A far lighter burden.

But even this far lighter burden does not come without a price. Earlier in the same chapter of bible, Jesus talks about the religious authorities of his time. He talks about how they reviled John the Baptist for being rough-hewn, for not being social, for not dining with or socializing; and how these same religious leaders criticized Jesus when he did socialize, (at times with the “wrong people”, when he did gather and eat and drink wine with people.

The lesson? People will find a way to critique us, even when are following Christ’s leading. People, even in religious circles, are quick to judge and slow to love.

But we have to choose.

We have to choose our burden. We have to choose which side we are on, and why because we will get cut down, ridiculed and publicly put down no matter what we choose.

“Choose me.” Jesus says, “Choose me and my way and your burden will be lighter.” It will be lighter because love is always lighter. It will be lighter because I will bear it with you and for you. It will be lighter than a faith that depends on rules and arbitrary judgment and shaming.

It will be lighter because Christ’s way offers grace when we muff it up.

This is important because of the time we are in. We are in an era of hate. When any flaw, any mistake, any tidbit of behavior, or any tiny misstep in our words are used as weapons to vilify and destroy.

We can choose the yoke of that anger and hate and the need to be perfect for this group or not.  What a burden, because sooner or later we will fail and our failure will be used to destroy us. No one is perfect.

Or we can choose the way of grace. Christ’s way of grace, in the way we live and love and treat others. Where perhaps we are not perfect, but we are striving to be better, striving to love and accept and give grace to others, and when we fail, we can begin again, knowing we are still loved, even as we love others who maybe didn’t get it exactly write.

We all choose our yoke. The question becomes, which one are we going to choose?

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

Loud Love

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From a Facebook post this morning:

I am about to go on a rant. I don’t do rants with any regularity, so if I rant, I’m at the end of my rope. (If you hate rants, move on, that’s perfectly OK. I am not fond of them either.)

I am tired of the hate. It has worn me down. You might say that the hate since the George Floyd murder is what precipitated this, but it goes further back, and deeper.

The post above came across my desk. I marked out all the names so no one will be embarrassed. Take a close look at it. The original post was made without comment, good or bad. I have no idea what their point was. It just was.

Then you see the response ” Where’s your messiah now?” Pretty ugly and uncalled for. It’s extra provocative if you know anything about the last days of Christ in the Christian faith. Provocation for provocation’s sake.

Normally I just let those things go. I am used to people on both sides of the political and religious divide being mean and using the internet as a place to lash out. It has become commonplace. Some of them are just angry. Some just like to stir the pot. In all my years on the internet (and I go back to dial-up and 3200 baud modems, in other words from the very beginning. I have never seen that sort of lashing out and the resulting back and forth ever make a difference.

So normally I just leave them alone. Life is too precious to waste.

But I also read the response and I respected it. That first comment WAS mean spirited, and there is far too much of it out there. And I decided that just this once, I would respond.

I wanted to respond in a way that was true to who I am and true to my faith. In other words, I wanted to be respectful of a belief I do not hold, because I believe in that. I wanted to actually give an answer rather than lash out. And I wanted to stand up for a faith I believe in deeply. I think, mostly, I did OK.

But of course, there were others after me, lashing out that there were no answers give just vitriol.I am not surprised. You put an opinion out on Facebook, and you will get comments that are good and bad. THat’s the nature of the beast.

But something just kicked in. I hit a wall. You want peace? Act in peace. Respond in peace. Try to be kind. You can disagree all you like. In fact, I have friends all over the political and religious spectrum who I love and respect and can discuss differences without a mean, cutting or disrespectful word. It is far easier than you might think. It only takes a tiny bit of self-control and kindness.

But that is not our world these days. Lashing out. Anger. Disrespect is the norm now. We hardly even notice it. And that kind of anger and disrespect does something else.

It cows people. It drives good people out of the discussion. So many of us (I am one) don’t join the conversation when often, they have good and important things to say. Why stand your ground when you are going to be attacked all the time? Most of us don’t. We just avoid it, when a real conversation is a thing worth happening.

People full of anger and meanness know this. They don’t seem to mind the anger thrown their way, and they know people of peace and kindness will often avoid the discussion when it risks becoming mean and personal. It is not a way to have a discussion. It is a way to suppress conversation.

I am done with that. I am going to be more expressive of what I think when I see something or someone being maligned. Love, peace, and kindness need as strong a voice as anger, prejudice, and meanness.

Off my soapbox. You may cut me off if you like. Or spread the word if you like. Most people are good. Most people are kind. It’s time to act like it and scream love as loud as the haters.

Tom

Time for Love to get Loud

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I was coming from a meeting in with my mother in downtown Richmond, Virginia the night after Martin Luther King was murdered. The meeting had been in Church Hill, a part of Richmond that at the time was considered “rough”  Mom had been working with a charity group that included a number of churches from throughout our city, including my home church, Welborne Methodist.

Riots began that night. On the way home, we saw cars on fires and looting. For a thirteen-year-old boy from the oh-so-safe suburbs of the West End, it was frightening. I can’t imagine what it felt like for my mother.

I grew up in a house with a strange dichotomy of racism and compassion. My father, for most of his life, was a racist, pure, and simple. Listening to him talk about blacks (that is what we called African Americans back then.) was horrible. There was no compassion for them, no desire to understand them, and he was of the “shoot them all” way of thought that you can still hear in way too many conversations.

I could not bring one of my best friends in high school to my house because he was black and I could not trust my father’s hate to not erupt. He (my friend) lived less than half a mile from me, and I was always welcome in his home. It was painful. It was my life.

My mother was the opposite. She always wanted to understand. Conversation. Kindness. Engagement. She was not afraid to talk with people from the poor side of our city, and understood the idea of white privilege before we had a phrase for it.

It made for some lively dinner conversation, I can tell you. Many of them. My mother was not someone to stir the pot. She was a peacemaker, but when it came to people being treated with respect, she never backed off from my loud and domineering father.

Lest you think this is a rant, it is not. You see there is more to the story.

When my dad was a little younger than I am now, his father died. My grandfather, his dad, lived in Surry County in Southeastern, Virginia. He began as a sharecropper and eventually emerged as a leading and successful farmer. And he treated everyone with kindness and respect. This was in the era when they were called Negros and treating them the same as everyone else was not done. Not in Surry County. No sir.

But Grandaddy just treated them as people. He learned their lives and families and did what he could to offset systemic mistreatment with extra help, extra kindness and simply caring for them as people.

When my grandfather died, the funeral was an amazing thing. There in the funeral home, every chair was full of the people I had come to know and love from grandaddy’s church and the area around the farm. It was as white a group as you can imagine.

But outside were probably a hundred or more black people. Maybe two hundred. A crowd. Dressed in their funeral clothes. Come to give their respect. Many of them in tears. In a place and time where that just did not happen.

I cannot tell you the change that experience wrought in my father. Almost immediately he changed. He began to take time to meet with and get to know some of my grandfather’s friends. He began to know their families. When he began the Surry Historical Society a few years after the funeral, he was adamant that everyone, from every race, have a place to share their family’s stories. At one point, he wrote a book about one of the area’s black heroes. My father once racist, changed.

What happened?

He became willing to talk and listen and see people as people, not a group. And this allowed him to do what we were all raised to do in our churches and temples. Care. Understand. Love.

In my mind, all that is happening, the murder of George Floyd, (and the many before him.), the riots, all of it is less a political failure (though it is certainly that too) as a spiritual one.

Talk to the people on both sides of the spectrum and all would say we should be compassionate. But we aren’t. We are fearful. We are angry. We see groups, not people. We are determined to shout our point of view and become threatened by other points of view.

I know this because I have spent a lot of time talking to people all over the place politically and spiritually over the past few days. I have read posts and news and editorials and letters and rants from people on all sides of the issues. In most of them, no matter what their belief system, there is not a place for listening. We want to be HEARD!

And yet, listening and understanding is what works.

A friend of mine, Jennifer (I will not put her full name here because I have not asked her if I can use it and her words) put out a post of Facebook that pointed out a not very surprising fact: that the cities who have maintained peace the past few days are cities where engagement and conversation is valued and used, instead of anger and expression. Almost without fail.

Why are we surprised?  Our savior knew this. He understood the power of understanding and compassion. When confronted with anger, he was peaceful. When people came to him, he always listened first, to understand before speaking. It is not that he could not get angry. He did. But time and time again he chose not to. To listen. To have compassion, even on some, like the Roman soldier who wanted his servant healed.

He was often frustrated. His own disciples missed what he thought was obvious, again, and again. But again and again, he listened and spoke and taught, not in anger, but in compassion.

Why? Because compassion works, Compassion changes things, and people for the better. But it is sometimes uncomfortable. Compassion sometimes means we have to hear painful things that make us look at ourselves in a less than wonderful way. Compassion means change and challenge.

I see what is happening right now as a spiritual failing more than a political one. Again, don’t get me wrong, the politics of it all are important, vital even. But when our spirit is in the place we were taught in churches and temples, then we are kinder. We are compassionate first, angry second. We are tolerant and kind. We care for our brothers and sisters no matter their color, or nationality, or social standing, or sex and sexuality. No matter what.

No matter what.  Christ never said be kind if the person meets those criteria. Or has enough money. Or is the right color. Or, or, or. He never put ratings on who got his love. Look at the people he talked with and mixed with and loved and helped and healed. They came from everywhere, the high and low, and even the people society scorned.

And until we choose to do the same, we will continue to be afflicted with violence and anger and hate. We have been battling this battle since 1968, It should be done, but it is not.

No, we cannot change the whole world, you and I. I am just a part-time pastor in the middle of Nowhere, Vermont. But we can be careful of what we do and say. We can hold yourselves up to the standards of a very simple rule: Love.

Most all of us profess a belief in love. From the left and right, most of us want to be thought of as people who believe in love. We even have our definition of what love is and isn’t: 1st Corinthians 13. Whether you are a more “liberal” church like mine, or a conservative evangelical church. We profess a belief in the power of love.

Why can’t we live it? I don’t have the answer. I just ask the question, because it needs to be asked. Not to the world at large, but to ourselves.

Believe love enough, and it will show. Believe in compassion enough and our politicians will follow. It becomes a spiritual question, pure and simple. Do we believe what we profess enough to live it? Or not? Love is contagious when it is lived boldly. But only when it is lived boldly. Even more contagious than hate, I believe.

But we who love tend to do it quietly. Maybe, just many, it is time for that to change.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

Church in the age of quarantine

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As I got ready for our on-line bible study tonight, it occurred to me that they don’t make pulpits like they used to. Here’s where I work when we are having church on line.

The top screen is where everyone comes on Hollywood square style. It is also where I mute and unmute people and switch to the power points and other things i use in a service. . The bottom screen is where power points, videos and the other things I use live. You can see the mic, light and camera.

There is also a little control panel next to the mic that lets me advance slides, mute and unmute everyone, and change the view on my screen. It’s very cool, if a bit unreliable.

My notes are propped up on a typing stand to the left of the computer screens. I also generally have books spread around to refer to, and a sheet of paper to one side to take notes about prayer concerns, etc.

It’s a lot more going on than in the traditional pulpit!, but it is what pastors everywhere are doing these days, making sure the church continues as the church, where ever we are!

Tom

Prayers for “New Church”

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This morning, as we have for several weeks now, we had on-line church at Rupert Methodist. It is fascinating how something that really didn’t exist two or three months ago has become such a part of our lives.

Rupert is a tiny little church in Southwestern Vermont. On a good Sunday, we have twenty-five or thirty folks. A lot of weeks we have half that. We love each other and work hard to be the church in the community. Our time together on Sundays is precious. It is not just a time to reconnect with God, but also a time for us to reconnect with each other.

On-Line church is working out. Each week there are new kinks to figure out. I have done video meetings for nearly two decades, so the basics are pretty familiar to me. But trying to orchestrate music in one location, and twenty-some odd folks, and the right mix of everyone on and some on and off has been a challenge. . I figure that by the time we can have sanctuary services again, I’ll be very fluent in Zoom.

Some of it is good. I like the fact that we are all there face to face. There is a certain intimacy in having a view of everyone in their homes as we talk and pray together. In a way, it is like having everyone on the front row (which never happens).

We start our service with a check-in. I go one by one and ask each person how they are holding up, what are their struggles and joys, and their prayer concerns. This is different than how we do it in sanctuary services. I always ask people what’s on their minds and hearts of course, but only a few respond.  And I am the only one who can see what is written on a person’s face when they speak.

By doing it one by one, Hollywood Squares style. Everyone sees everyone. Often there is cross-talk as members share their sympathy, right then and right there. Again, strange as it sounds when we are all huddled in our houses, there is an intimacy to it.

Last week we had twenty-one online. And a couple could not get on. So an average Sunday. Only, it was not, because easily half of those attending are not members of our church. They came from another church I used to pastor, or from friends all over the country. I think we had half a dozen states represented.

And that is a thing we could never do in sanctuary services, reach out so beyond our little towns of Rupert, Pawlet, Manchester, Dorset, and Granville. In the few weeks together, a bond has begun to grow, and these new people feel like our family now, as distant as we are.

There’s a downside, however. As I said, much of our congregation is older, and the technology is hard for them. That is not helped by living in rural Vermont where internet and cell service is often spotty.

So we can’t forget to reach out to those who don’t have the ability to log on each week. I am fortunate, because my congregation is small. I can spend a morning or afternoon (and sometimes both) and reach out and connect with everyone. Not every pastor has that privilege. If I had a larger church, it could be a challenge. But we’d find a way because so much of church, the people, not the building, is about connection.

And that leaves me wondering about what comes after? How do we stay connected with these new people who have joined our church family in the last month or two? We can’t do sanctuary services and on-line services. With a larger church, there might be a way to blend the two, but being as small as we are, the cost of the gear, and the internet (even if we can get internet fast enough to webcast) is beyond what we can do. There’s a challenge for us here.

Before all this, I think most of our folks would have rejected the idea of projection in the sanctuary as a regular part of services. We have a stunningly beautiful 19th Century Neo-Gothic sanctuary and the beauty of this sacred space means a lot to people. It is incredibly worshipful. But we’ve been using Power Point with our on-line services, and it’s been a good thing. People like having the scripture and key points up while I talk. I think it helps them take it in better.

So it is now something we might integrate into regular services. Again, money is an issue., particularly now when there is no money coming in. But there is a way to do it.

I floated the idea of doing an on-line bible study, using the same tools we use for on-line church. That looks like a go. A new opportunity for us. And maybe a way to extend our reach.

I have also been doing on-line office hours. Same tools again. And a few have taken advantage of it.

I don’t want us to get too comfortable with on-line church. I think there is too much opportunity for people to fall between the cracks. It is an uneven world we live in, between poverty, education, and age, there are too many barriers to technology already.

There is no substitute for presence. None. Presence of God in our lives and presence of community. IF we get too comfortable with technology, the physical presence of holy spaces and holy communion with each other can be lost. But we can’t ignore what technology offers us: New paths. New ways. To tell the old, old story of a God who loves us, and a Savior who transforms lives, always for the better.

I don’t often ask for prayers here. As a pastor, most people feel it’s my job to do the praying. But this sea change offers possibilities and perils, hope and danger. I do not think it is an “either/or thing”, but an “and” thing, and that has to be sorted out in the context of a part-time, bi-vocational ministry. I so want to make it work and it’s more than a learning curve. I need wisdom and I ask that you add your prayers to mine that I, and other pastors throughout Vermont and around the world, sort through this, seeking God’s will and direction to spread his love and message in this strange new world of ministry we live in.

Thank you. Be well,

Tom

PS: Anyone interested in our online services or Rupert Methodist can get the details on our site:  www.rupertumc.org

Strong (Easter Reflections)

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I am sitting in my studio writing. There is music playing. This morning it’s Amy Winehouse, her soulful voice reflecting off the walls and filling the space. There is no one else in the building to complain that perhaps I am playing the music a little too loud.

Most mornings when I leave the house to go to the studio, I kiss the woman I love. I have spent a lot of time being grateful for her in this time of quarantine. Among my many blessings is that I not only love her, but I like her and being together all this extra time has been a joy, not a burden. I almost feel guilty that it has been so easy for me.

I kiss her goodbye and generally tell her when I plan to be home. Today, as I left the house, I glanced across the room and into my office. There’s a set of wooden drawers on the wall, and on top of it are some books, a couple of Norman-arched antique clocks from my grandmother and great aunt’s homes. And the word “Strong”.

The word is made out of… well I don’t know what it is made out of. Maybe plastic. It’s modern, with some glossy holographic covering. When you walk past it, it changes color in the light. It’s dramatically different than my office full of old furniture and prints. All it says is “Strong”.

My wife, the woman I love, bought it for me a while back, as I recovered from my cancer treatment and surgery. She bought it because, she said, I had been strong through the whole process, and as a reminder that I was strong.

I don’t feel strong. I didn’t then and I don’t now.

So I need the reminder now and again.

I’ve never been strong in the classic sense. As a kid, a teenager, and in college, I was woefully thin. I wore boys’ clothes until I was 28 years old and finally filled in enough to wear actual men’s clothing.  A friend of mine in college once drew a picture of me sideways, representing my body with a zipper and my hair and beard as the only 3D part of my whole body.

But I was wiry. Deceptive. Once, when I about sixteen and sailing with my parents and a couple of their friends, one of the friends fell off the boat and into the river, which was filled with seasonal jellyfish. I reached down and took his hand and lifted him right back up on the boat. Even accounting for adrenaline, it was improbable. My life was full of improbable, from winning fights I had no reason to win, to running track with my skinny legs.

I felt strong then. In fact, I felt strong until maybe 15 or twenty years ago. That is about when my depression began to creep in. I didn’t even know I had depression then. I had to go pretty far down that rabbit hole before I, with the help of a good pastor and a wonderful therapist, had the obvious pointed out to me.

I’ve muddled through the normal array of things breaking bad in my life.  I’ve been laid off. I have gone through a divorce. I’ve fought that aforementioned black, black, crippling depression. I’ve lost parents and had a bout or few of dangerously bad health. And now this time of coronavirus.

Ah, the virus. It sits at the forefront of all of our minds these days. I may or may not have had it. It was early on in the time of quarantine. I had the symptoms: trouble breathing, fever, diarrhea. But it was early. There were no tests available, and too, I have a history of lung issues. It could have been that. I told myself, knowing better.

And if I didn’t have it, I sure didn’t want to go to the doctors in that condition.  So I muddled through, stayed home, got better. I did a telemedicine session or two.  If I did have it, it was mild. If not, I was sick enough they wanted me home. I have a bunch of the things that make the virus worse, they reminded me. I am 64. I have diabetes. I have a raft of lung issues. I just had surgery, weakening me further.

As if I needed to be weaker.

People who know me would tell you I am strong. I don’t ever feel like that is the case. What I am is stoic. I raised by my mother to “never let ’em see you sweat.” I have learned over time that things work out, so just because things are awful now, does not mean they will always be awful. Life runs in cycles.

My depression, when it is not the black hole it was once, actually helps. I don’t feel the same as people who are not depressed. It’s like a damper on my emotions. I don’t get the emotional highs I once did. But too, because  my baseline is pretty low, I never get the terrible lows I once did. My medication and my head work have done their job.

I have a lifelong faith as well. Mine is Christian, but from what I know of other faiths, they too offer hope in different ways. Having lived in faith most all of my life, even in my darkest times, has helped me see how we come through the black places. How there is always a “better” just beyond our sight. God, it appears to me, is as faithful as he promises to be even if he has a maddening habit of ignoring our timelines in the process.

Here’s what I have learned: I don’t have to be strong. God will do that for me, when I allow him to.  When things seem out of control to me, he is out there somewhere, slowly bringing the pieces together. If I have the patience to wait in my weakness, he will get me through. I rarely have a clue how he pulls this off, but he does.

And weak as I am, he has had to do it for me alone, a bunch of times. He likely has a whole brigade of angels dedicated to me and my mishaps. I am grateful for each and every one of them. Assuming I make I to heaven, I will likely spend eternity tracking them all down and thanking them.

I think about this a lot at Easter. How it all must have seemed to have gone wrong. How the promise of Palm Sunday had turned into betrayal and punishment and death and fear. How the disciples were huddled, afraid of what might happen to them. Jesus had been their strength, and now, he was gone. They likely had never felt weaker, huddled in the upper room.

Not unlike us.

Afraid. Uncertain. Not sure what was happening, or what would happen to them, or how long they would be there, or what might come after.

I am not feeling strong in this time. I will tell you that. I have had friends tell me of their crying, unable to get out, to share love and life with their family and friends, unable to even go to church, where they have always felt a sense of sanctuary.  Many of us have lost our jobs. Others are working in unfamiliar ways. We all feel useless and trapped and anything but strong.

But on that first Easter, the disciples would find something out. That even when we are not strong, God is. Jesus is. Strong even to the point of defying death.

They would find out, and they would rejoice. And in time, because of Jesus’ resurrection, they too would become strong, allowing themselves to be filled with his spirit and turning the tragedy of his death become triumph. a triumph that would allow them to become something they had not been before,

Strong,

So this Easter, rejoice in the resurrection. Do not worry if you are frightened or feel weak and uncertain. That’s OK, That’s….. human. God knows our fear. And he knows our weakness, and he gave his son, the give us strength.

To remind us that even in the darkest moments, light prevails.

Celebrate this today. Carry this in your heads and hearts in the weeks ahead. Our God is with us. Jesus is with us. Easter is the proof, and we can be certain he will give us strength, even when we feel we have none.

This, I believe.

Tom