Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.”
Monday, May 11, 2020
Year A 5th Easter 2020 Grieving... Together
Year A 5th Sunday of Easter, 10 May 2020
Video Service from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
Collect: Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”
Good morning, friends. I was surprised when we sent the Friday updates out. Within minutes I started receiving emails from folks who said it really meant something to them. One was three words, “simply quite beautiful.” I was really shocked by that. But it struck me that maybe something in what I said was resonating. So I shared it on Facebook and was overwhelmed by how many people reacted, responded and shared it. Maybe that Holy Spirit prompting me to be vulnerable really was something meant not just for me. I am learning more and more these days that God has not abandoned any of us, ANY OF US, but the Holy Spirit is moving in powerful ways for the good of all of us. This is what I shared on Friday, in case you missed it.
“Today is Friday. These days I seem to have to remind myself of even simple things like that. We are now deep into a new normal. Some of us are afraid to admit that there is a relief in a slower schedule, a more livable pace. Some of us are very scared, desperate to make ends meet, but afraid that going out could be a death sentence. Some of us are angry that these emergency measures were taken or are continuing. Some of us are enraged at the choices others are making, and we belittle or react too negatively to them.
We all deal with our grief in different ways. And we are all grieving. The biggest reality, that most of us are not yet openly discussing, is that we are all grieving right now. This is a global trauma that will shape the decades to come. We are coming up on the known death toll of 1 1/2 times the US troops killed in the Vietnam War. Think how long our nation had to deal with that trauma.
I had a real blue spell earlier this week that caught me off guard. I did not know where it came from, but thankfully I could take a space to stop, name what I was feeling, and do the inner work to ask where it was coming from and where my energy needed to focus to get to a healthier and better place. I prayed. I journaled. I learned from it and was able to take healthy positive steps toward wholeness and health. The warning signs were when I acted out of character. Thankfully I was able to see it before it continued.
Richard Rohr said, "If you don't transform your suffering, you'll transmit it." This can come out in so many ways. Snapping at those we love. Being rude to someone who means nothing to us, like a person at a drive-thru or shop. Numbing ourselves with food or drink or distracting entertainment. Those are all ways of transmitting or avoiding your pain. I hope you will take some time today and ask where you are in your grief over this season we are in the midst of now. Where are those who you hold in your care? Can you find healthy, productive, and life-giving ways to affirm, care, and support them (and yourself)? Can you express where you are and what you need right now?
Know that now is not easy. It won't be. What do you need to make it the new normal you want? What do you need to let go of to do the same? Those answers are as unique as your fingerprint.
I am praying for you.
All God's blessings,
Now being a big guy, 6 foot five, whose nickname is Rock tends to lead me to not open up readily. I am a big guy with a big persona. Admittedly. But even in these days, even big guys are feeling it. We all are.
In today’s Gospel, I hear Jesus confronting and dealing with grief.
Leading through hard times is something that is never easy. But when I have had to gather and calm people, especially in fearful moments or days, there are some consistencies.
1. Naming it.
Things are bad. You are normal and right to be feeling afraid.
2. Showing Level-headed leadership.
We are making a plan, and we will work the plan. We have good people making decisions and we will lean on their expertise to make the best decisions, and we will change things as necessary. It will all be okay.
3. Assuring us of a future.
The hard times will pass, and there is a future in this world, and sometimes in the world to come.
In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus is grieving, and modeling for his intimates healthy vulnerability, healthy leadership, and healthy faith. He is showing those closest, and us, that we are not promised a picnic. Hard days will come. We obviously know that now. But they will not last. And we will have loving, caring leadership to help us get through. As Jeus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”
Friends, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in…” God’s Son, our Lord. And trust the Holy Spirit, especially in these days.
In speaking with my Spiritual Director this week, we talked about how the Spirit is moving in a mighty and powerful way around the world. He described it as “we have all entered into liminal space.” In other words, we are at a threshold moment. I so truly believe that, and by following those promptings of the Holy Spirit God’s dreams for us and for our whole world can come true. And we when stand at a threshold, it begs a choice. Will we stay where we are, or will we enter. Jesus promises, “Come unto me all that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Amen