Tuesday, April 7, 2015

“A bridge of silver wings stretches from the dead ashes of an unforgiving nightmare
to the jeweled vision of a life started anew.”                                                                        ~
Aberjhani, Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry.

This phrase brings to life some very beautiful imagery for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our church, along with thousands of other churches, celebrated that resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The Biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection focus on His body being placed in a tomb, and on the 3rd day the massive rock sealing the tomb was rolled away. With that tomb being opened come promises of great hope for all of humanity. It is easy to understand why Easter services are grand and festive celebrations.

However, in all of our rightful Easter excitement, do we slow down enough to realize that Easter begins with a question? Do we stop to consider the implications of that question?
In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ mother Mary is sobbing. She has watched Jesus become a political pawn that nobody wanted to take, but everybody wanted gone...brutally beaten and His flesh stripped away...nails driven through his wrists and feet...crucified and left to die…Mary watched Jesus take his final breath. Three days later, upon His resurrection Jesus asks Mary:

“Why are you weeping?”
With this question God’s very first move in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is compassion: help me understand.

Lots of people have been coming to our church seeking aid. I am struck time and again by how even the smallest measure of compassion can provide great hope. Looking at our county’s immediate future shows that compassion and hope will remain in high demand.
A health qualities survey recently released compares all counties in Oregon. Overall, Crook County seems to fare pretty well. When it comes to health outcomes we are #9. However in health factors, overall we drop way down to #31. Among the contributing issues: our unemployment rate – while dropping – remains much higher than the state average, and more alarming is that one in four children are living in poverty. In a related newspaper article a county official indicated these challenges are expected to remain, and, maybe even worsen over the immediate future.

Where are we being called to provide compassion as individuals and churches and service clubs? How can we work together to turn this around?
Our church, like many others, is looking for ways to do better ministry. In expanding our outreach we seek to be Jesus’ hands and feet and heart as we come alongside people during difficult times; for this I am very grateful.

Yet, when I hear a teenager caught in the tumult of chaotic family circumstances say “at least in jail you get a warm place to sleep and three meals a day,” it makes me realize how much more there is to do. What do you suppose this teen sees when looking at their future?
In those times and places where life is a constant scramble filled with demands for this and payment for that, and you’re already on the edge with not nearly enough time or money or energy to take care of it all, often the first thing to go is any sense of being worthy of compassion. When that sense of self-worth disappears the thought that God might actually care disappears too.

Whether we are broken on the insides or broken on the outsides, the resurrection of Jesus Christ shows us that God refuses to be careless about any of it. God’s compassion continues to find ways to put us back together again for our wellbeing and for our right relationship with God.
The empty tomb is God’s reminder for us to slow down enough to ask others that simple question: help me understand? And then to consider what our world might look like if we stopped to listen.

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