You clothe the dry bones of our lives with the flesh of your new creation,
and from the fearful tombs you call us to come out and live unbound,
through the power of Christ’s resurrection, in whose strong name we give thanks. Amen. (Rev. JP)
Yesterday, at the Spring training & gathering for the EC in CT, we talked a lot about our stories, our personal stories and our connection to our faith. It got me thinking about lyrics to a song by David Haas: “We come to share our story. We come to break the bread. We come to know our rising from the dead.”
We gather each week, to share our story, to break bread together and to hear the redeeming words of Scripture for us today.
In our first reading, God says to Jeremiah, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the LORD," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.”
Know the Lord. It is true for our journey today as it was in the day of Jeremiah the Prophet.
But people forgot. They walked away, generations later, the question and the hope resurfaces, a longing for connection to the Divine. A yearning we all have. In the Gospel we are told, Greeks at the festival in Jerusalem came up to Philip saying, “We want to see Jesus.”
To see Jesus is to Know the Lord. It is to see with our eyes and hearts. God is always speaking, always present. But we need to listen.
The late Henri Nouwen put it this way, “The church is a spiritual director. It tries to connect your story with God’s story. Just to be a true part of this community means you are being directed and you are being guided. The Bible is a spiritual director. People must read Scripture as a word for themselves personally, and ask where God speaks to them.”Holy Scripture is not only a story of long ago, but it is our story today, connecting with each of us here and now. Speaking to you and me and our lives.
The children of our Godly Play class move towards the celebration of Easter by taking 7 classes to listen to the stories of Jesus’ journey to the cross and resurrection. It is called the Mystery of Easter. Using 7 pictures of Christ (from Godly Play), it helps them wonder and consider their place in the story. It begins with...
Jesus’ Birth & Grown (I)
In the beginning a baby was born. God chose Mary to be his mother. And the Mother Mary & Father Joseph kept the baby close and gave that baby everything he needed to grow. Love!
Jesus is Lost & Found (II)
The baby grew and became a boy. When Jesus was around 12, he accompanied Mary & Joseph and many others from Nazareth to Jerusalem for one of the high holy days. After the celebration, the Nazareans went home through the great high gate, but Jesus was not there. Mary & Joseph searched for him & finally found him in the temple with the rabbis/priests. "Didn't you know I would be in my father's house?" And Mary treasured these words in her heart.
Jesus’ Baptism & Blessing by God (III)
Jesus grew and became a man, and around the age of 30 was baptized in the river Jordan by his cousin, John. He didn’t want to, but Jesus persuaded him and as he came out of the waters, they saw a dove and heard a voice, "this is the beloved." Jesus then went into the desert, where he stayed 40 days & nights to learn more about who he was and what his work was going to be.
Jesus’ Desert & Discovery Experience (IV)
In the desert there was little to eat or drink and there he was tempted: stones to bread, jump to test God, King over all kingdoms. Jesus said, No to all the temptations. After this, he went back across the Jordan to do his work.
Jesus as Healer & Parable-Maker (V)
His work was to come close to people, especially those no one else wanted to come close to, like Healing the blind man. When Jesus came close to people, they changed, they became well. He also told parables to the people. To help open their minds and their hearts to the Kingdom of God.
Jesus offers the Bread & Wine (VI)
Jesus went to Jerusalem one last time. As he rode a humble donkey, he was greeted by people waving palm branches, laying down branches and their garments on the road. In an upper room, the disciples and Jesus shared a last meal. Jesus took some bread and wine and gave it to them, each time telling them whenever they gather, to break bread and drink wine, to do it in remembrance of him.
The One who was Easter & Still Is (VII)
After supper, Jesus went with his disciples to Gethsemane, there he was betrayed, arrested and taken to Jerusalem for his trial. That next day outside the city walls, Jesus was crucified. Afterwards, he was laid in a tomb. On Sunday, they went to the tomb, found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Jesus who died on the cross, had risen, and was still with them, as they gathered as they shared in the bread and wine.
One side of the picture is Easter, the other crucifixion. You cannot take them apart, you cannot have one without the other and that is the mystery of Easter, a mystery where we find God.
In that mystery is a journey, a memory of what has happened. Verna Dozier remind us that our parish family is “a Scripture community which is a community with a memory. Deep in that memory is some event in which we shared either by actual participation in it or by being brought into the story. The memory has to be kept right. A Scripture community is a community with a ritual life that keeps the memory fresh.”
We keep Lent to remind us of the journey to Easter, to the event that changed the world and changed our lives that brought life out of death. For each Sunday we come to live into that event ritually reminding us that indeed Jesus is always with us and we find him in our gathering as we hear our sacred story, offer our prayers, and break bread together. Amen.