Our theme this Lent is Traveling Light, and this morning we are talking about Letting Go of Expectations.
I know some of you have heard me say that “expectations are pre-meditated resentments.” I was so startled when someone first told me this. Expectations are pre-meditated resentments. I have usually applied this to my own expectations—moderating them and even trying to eliminate them, so I do not become resentful, especially of those I love.
But this morning, I want to focus on expectations of us—and I began to wonder if this statement still applies. Are not those expectations also pre-meditated –at least by somebody—our culture, our parents or family, our school or workplace, our friends, our religious upbringing?
I’m not talking about basic human decency and societal functioning, but rather those expectations that weigh us down, the ones that may come with a trace or more of resentment, with disappointment, anger or tears, with hard conversations if we do not live up to them or agree with them. These expectations may leave us feeling that too much is being put on our shoulders which we never agreed to—the expectations that cause us to stress out, or avoid someone, procrastinate or fantasize about life being different—these are the expectations that are ripe for a good Lenten reflection.
Can you tease out those expectations and where they come from? Are they rooted in childhood, was it something someone said to you, or it is something you didn’t receive, or interpreted as important, and you now expect it of yourself, all the time?
During the Ash Wednesday service, I shared that I carry a heavy expectation of hyper-responsibility for everyone’s well-being in my family—even more so since my mom died 11 years ago. So, it’s not just for my immediate family, but for my dad, my siblings, even my cousins, and keeping extended family who live far and wide connected. No one told me to carry this, but I learned it from my mom, who learned it from her mom and so on. It’s part of being female in our culture, part of being Christian—not so healthy, even part of my training as a pastor—also, not always healthy. But failing them, not showing up when they need me, not having the right or helpful answer, worries me.
Even when we agree with and understand and want to live up to others’ and our own expectations, they can become a heavy weight that is difficult to carry.
Nicodemus in our Gospel reading carried so many religious and social expectations as a prominent leader in the Temple. As a Pharisee, he kept all 613 laws in Leviticus as perfectly as anyone could. In addition to that, he also adhered to an oral tradition of rules recorded in what’s called the Mishnah. He was so worried about someone seeing him with Jesus and behaving outside the expected norms of his position that he came to Jesus in secret, under the cover of darkness. What would happen if a colleague saw him talking to this rabble rouser? Would he be kicked off the council of the Sanhedrin? Would he disappoint his whole sect of religious leaders and bring shame upon his family? He risked everything by stepping outside the expectations of this societal role to have this conversation with Jesus.
But he comes anyway because he sees something holy in Jesus—something Godly, that does not fit into the box within which he has been living. Jesus has been healing people in Jerusalem, doing signs and wonders, so Nicodemus comes to him, knowing that apart from God, he could not perform these miracles. Nicodemus senses a freedom in Jesus’ power. In their conversation, Jesus affirms Nicodemus for already starting to see the kingdom in healing and new life, for already engaging in a new relationship with him, "‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above."
This is not an instruction about what Nicodemus must do next –it’s an affirmation of what he already is doing by seeing the life-giving, Godly, miraculous nature of Jesus mission! Then Nicodemus has the courage to talk with Jesus about how Nicodemus sees God showing up in him! Nicodemus is already being reborn from above or reborn anew and entering the kingdom of God by engaging a relationship with Jesus! But then, he goes right back to arguing logical points—which I just love—because Nicodemus is like all of us—we see God at work and we totally get Jesus one minute, and then we are completely confused the next minute!
But Jesus just hangs there with Nicodemus, drawing him out of his rigid “expectations box” of how things are supposed to be, how life and religion, healing and relationships, God and leaders are supposed work according to good order and tradition, and he keeps pulling him toward being made new in a relationship with him, until Nicodemus’s whole box folds in on itself. This is not to say anything negative about the Jewish religion—Jesus was Jewish—but simply to let go of expectations that prevent us from a faith that has us boxed in rather than living in a life-giving relationship with God.
God does not want to condemn you Nicodemus-religious-leader for breaking the rules, God sent me to save the whole world in love, for love, through love. For God so loved the world, (the Greek says, cosmos) that he gave his only Son, that all those who believe in him, will not perish, have eternal life. We’re not talking about eternal life after we die, although that’s included—this is an all-inclusive package deal, but the point is, eternal life starts here and now! This is an experience of heaven that is felt now—this is what it is to know Jesus—it is to know and experience heaven here! That’s why healings, that’s why miracles, that’s why wine out the wazoo at the wedding at Cana, that’s why the peace that passes all understanding, that’s why Jesus says, have a relationship with me now—it’s an experience of heaven here on earth—stop waiting, Nicodemus! Stop waiting, all of us! To know Jesus is to experience heaven now!
Jesus is saying, “Step out of the expectations box, let it fold, stop trying to earn what you already have—and stop trying to do God’s job. You are already made new right here, right now in a relationship with me. You are still going to do all the things for which you are responsible –just do them in freedom, care for your family in joy, fulfill your work in peace, serve your neighbor out of love. Jesus can release you of the burden or resentment of false or unfair expectations you have put on yourself or accepted from others.
Part of my Lenten prayer practice is to put each family member I am worried in Jesus arms in my morning prayers and to trust God to take care of them in a way that I cannot. That frees me to love them without trying to do God’s job. Am I completely free of worry? My spirit is much lighter, but I’m human, I cannot say a I never worry. We are going for progress not perfection.
I want you to take one of the little prayer slips for the wooden cross in the entryway (you should have received one from an usher) and I want you to write down one expectation whose weight you are ready to release and turn over to Jesus so you can be born anew. No name—these are all anonymous. Either after Communion and before you go to your seat or after worship, you can put it in the slots in the wooden cross in the entryway to the sanctuary. Leave the expectation with Jesus on that cross. I will pray all these prayers and intentions during Holy Week.
If you want to take your Lenten reflections to the next level this week, you can step into the freedom of asking Jesus which other expectations in your life are really of God—and in line with your divine purpose. See if there are other ways Jesus can release you from unnecessary expectations of yourself and others into a renewed and deeper relationship with him.
Nicodemus risked everything to have a conversation with Jesus—that’s not true for us—we can talk to Jesus any day at any moment, any time. But making the life changes that come with releasing a significant expectation can feel very risky. That’s true whether it’s an expectation of yourself, or if it involves someone else, and requires a conversation or renegotiation. If you would like help in what’s coming up for you, please call or text me—my cell phone is on the back of every bulletin. I am happy to meet with you—talk through all the issues, and if more is needed, I know some great counselors and spiritual directors for referral.
Nicodemus shows us that to know Jesus is to know and experience heaven here! When we die and get to heaven all will be well. We won’t need Jesus’ grace and forgiveness once we are there—we’ll be swimming in it, like a fish is in water. We need Jesus’ love and life, NOW in this world, to free us from the box we are living in today. We need healing, freedom, strength, the peace that passes all understanding to help us through the challenges and difficulties of this life. We also need joy and some wine out the wazoo for the celebrations of this life!
All of that comes in a relationship with the living and risen Jesus Christ who renews and recreates us with love, freeing us to live as our true selves so we can let go of unnecessary expectations and travel lightly with him.
Our theme for Lent is Traveling Light. Today we are talking about Letting go of Anxiety. I wonder if advertisers would have any success at all at selling us stuff we don’t need if we did not all have anxiety?
Anxiety about having enough, earning enough, knowing enough, looking good enough, appearing young enough, being comfortable enough, feeling safe enough, being fun enough, living long enough, being fit enough, exercising power enough…and we could go on….
What gets your anxiety churning and feeling that who you are is not enough? I have a Bag of Anxiety products here (didn’t the Apostle Paul say something about being a fool for Christ?).
• Here’s a “one-drop re-wind”- I bought this at the beginning of the pandemic when I thought, “I am on video all the time now, I have got to do something about this neck! Doesn’t work.
• This cream wasn’t any better the anti-wrinkle cream I already use—and neither was this one, or this one, this one!
• This hair oil I used to regrow bald spots from chemo and prevent thinning hair-it stunk to high heaven and gave me a migraine.
• These contour pads have been in my drawer since we lived in St. Louis—I think they were for these mud flaps growing under my arms—now I just say, “God is getting a head start on my angel wings.”
• This book, “Lagom” is about the Swedish way of living with relaxed joy—I’ve read one page.
• My oncologist told me I had to keep my weight low, so I couldn’t just do that with healthy diet and exercise, so I took these Burn pills, and they made me jitter like crazy.
Whatever it is, this kind of anxiety weighs us down, causes self-doubt and inner turmoil. Anxiety can cause us to scramble after things that do not give meaning while closing us off to opportunities that do.
Anxiety produces a never-ending upward spiral, but there’s never an arrival platform, a ta-dah where our everyone says, “well you’ve got it, you’ve arrived!”
There’s always a “you need this fitness shake (skinny greens, anyone?), these 5 steps to write your book and make a million dollars life hack.”
It’s an illusion that we can do it all ourselves if we just have the right stuff. It’s hard to travel light through life and believe we are enough, with all this going around us and in our head.
The devil shows up in the wilderness as a salesman par excellence where Jesus, having fasted for 40 days, does not have enough of anything. Jesus has reason to be rife with anxiety.
• Jesus is famished—he does not have enough or ANY comfort or food or sustenance.
• Jesus is alone—he does not have enough or ANY companionship, support, help or influence.
• Jesus is depleted—he does not exercise any power that he does have to relieve his earthly circumstances.
Such an opportune time for the devil to swoop in and say, “have I got a deal for you! You can solve all your problems—You’ve got the power, Jesus! You can do this yourself! You don’t need God."
#1 “Turn these stones to bread—you’ve gone 40 days without food, and I can see your ribs, Jesus! Have a little bread—You’re never going to have a comfortable life…do more with your power…take the bread and run…”
Jesus doesn’t bite.
#2 “Hey Jesus, God promised to take care of you, so let’s have a show—you throw yourself of the pinnacle of the temple, the angels will rescue you—then you can get a book deal! My Brush with Death and the Angels Who Rescued Me. I could get you on all the major news outlets (GNN Galilee News Network!) You didn’t get any followers or Likes with that Jordan river baptism stunt; you need more influence to succeed, …
But, Jesus does not want to take on the devil’s role and test God, so again he takes a pass.
#3 “Hey Jesus, maybe you would use your power if you just had more of it? Imagine all the kingdoms of the world –all belonging to you –just worship me instead of God! Talk about power and status—look at the Romans—you need to achieve more power if you’re going to succeed against them!”
Jesus has all the reasons in the world to be filled with anxiety, to feel like who he is and what he has is truly not enough, and to give in to all three of these temptations to take more, be more, to use his power more, yet he does not do it.
Was it because unlike us, he was free from worry and anxiety? I doubt it—other Bible stories show Jesus sharing our human experience—weeping at the tomb of Lazarus, distraught over Jerusalem like a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wing, praying for the cup of crucifixion to be passed from him in the Garden of Gethsemane. I imagine Jesus was plenty anxious, exhausted, starving and depleted when those temptations came.
But none of that changed or overpowered his true identity and connection with God. Just before the Spirit led him into the wilderness, he was Baptized, and the heavens opened up and the Holy Spirit landed on him and God said. “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” God said, “you are mine, I love you. Your identity is in being my child. I am with you. I will not forsake you.”
No amount of bread, power, angels, attention, influence, or glory could be more meaningful, more deeply satisfying, or longer lasting than being Beloved in the eyes of God, his father. In knowing his identity. In being clear on who he is. In being intimately connected to the Creator.
The devil failed because he tempted Jesus to achieve and to strive for what he already had—his identity and relationship with God already provides all the sustenance, all the love, all the power, identity, and relationship that mattered.
Jesus already has everything he needed—he has nothing to prove, nothing more to gain, nothing more he truly craved, nothing to accomplish or achieve apart from his relationship with God. He knows Who he was and Whose he was, so in that sense, what the devil offers aren’t really temptations at all.
So, with each of the devil’s enticements, Jesus comes back to his relationship with God—and he does that by quoting Scripture passages that keep him grounded in his identity as a beloved child of God. And as he does this, the anxiety, the lure of the temptations fade into the background and the devil disappeared. The temptations cannot offer him anything he does not already have from God.
The most amazing thing is, Jesus was baptized at the beginning of his ministry before he has healed anyone and or done anything big for God. He is not loved by God as a reward, after resisting the temptations of the devil—he is loved before ever going into the wilderness. Jesus does not do anything to deserve God’s love. He is beloved first—a priori love! Jesus received this pure, beloved, embrace of God unconditionally, and he believes it, he soaks it up, he survives the wilderness wrapped in love and identity as God’s child, and so can we.
You are God’s Beloved Son. You are God’s Beloved Daughter.
You are beloved by God who made you—pure and simple—loved from the beginning—a priori love and grace. You are loved not as a reward or because you have earned it or deserve it, but simply because God made you and says, “you are mine, Child of God.”
This is your identity. Nothing more. Nothing less. Nothing else is needed. We too, have everything we need—God’s absolute love for us—so we have nothing to prove to God or anyone else. When we are grounded in Who we and Whose we are, we can let go of this anxiety about not being enough, having enough, doing enough, achieving enough, and with Jesus, we accept God’s complete and absolute love for us.
It does not matter our size or shape our bank account or status. To God and to us, you are enough. You are a Beloved Child, and God cherishes a relationship with you.
Our children who sang for us are the best example of how to live our identity as a child of God. They are content to simply be the child of their parent—this is who they are and whose they are. The only reference point of their identity.
While in seminary, before I had kids, I went to the park with my friend John and his daughter 4 year old daughter, Mara. She was standing on the platform of the jungle gym and we stood their talking. Without saying a word, she just leaned forward in a trust fall toward her dad, John noticed and caught her in her arms, and he looked at me and said, “that’s trust.”
That’s the image for us of falling into complete trust in our identity as a child—a child of God, whom we trust to catch us as we let go of our anxieties, and the temptation to achieve what we already have in God—acceptance, peace, provision, love. I invite your daily mantra this week to be “I am beloved child of God.” Say it with me. “I am beloved child of God.” How does it feel to breathe this in and let it be enough in your life, that you are beloved child of God? Practice letting it be enough this week.
This is why God sent Jesus, after all, so we can trust-fall into his arms—so we would know that faith is about relationship with a God who loves us.
Every week, God’s love for us comes in the shape of bread and wine, forgiveness and community in Jesus Christ, who defeated the devil and temptation FOR us and rose victorious, so we can let go of our anxiety and live out of our identity in God.
And when we come to this table God says, ta-dah! Beloved child, I am so glad you came to feast on love and forgiveness! Go from here traveling light, trust-falling into my love knowing who you are and whose you are.
Jesus sends the 72 disciples out on a journey. He gives them very strange and uncomfortable instructions: Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals. My husband Dan is good at traveling light, me, not so much! Dan went to Mexico for two weeks, to study Spanish and all he brought was a carry-on suitcase and a small backpack! But Jesus isn’t telling his disciples just to travel light — he is instructing them to travel without necessities.
Can you imagine if I told our Global Mission when they went to El Paso, to give me their wallet, their suitcase, and…their cellphone?
So, why does Jesus tell his disciples to travel light? There are several reasons. When we hold onto too many things, we cannot watch for how Holy Spirit is leading us. Some pathways are not possible because we are too weighed down with what we are carrying. When we hold onto too much stuff, we cannot receive the blessings that others have for us — outreach, evangelism and sharing good news is not just about welcoming others and offering hospitality, but it is also receiving the hospitality and gifts that others give to us. When we hold onto to too many things, we lose sight of what is truly important — trusting God to provide for us and seeing God’s blessings for us.
Today we enter into this journey of Lent where Jesus invites us to travel light. What do we need to let go of to journey with Jesus this Lent? Often, we think of letting go of small pleasures —like chocolate or meat on Fridays or spending time on Facebook. There may be good reasons for these practices, but in this passage, Jesus invites us to let go of things that are essential: money, a change of clothes, and a spare pair of shoes. In our Lenten journey, we are invited to let go of things that can feel essential to us. What might those things be for you?
It may be a feeling of control. Maybe it is a feeling of comfort or security. Maybe it is expectations of others or yourself—these things can also feel essential to our identity. Or it may be material possessions Jesus refers to, that we need to loosen our hold on in order to trust God to provide for us. What is weighing you down, that if you released it or let go of it, you would feel lighter?
I had to ask myself this question as I prepared for today and as you might guess, self-examination is never fun or comfortable. Neither is admitting it publicly and on video, but I try hard not to ask anyone to engage in a practice I have not done or am not doing myself. What I need to let go of this Lent centers around expectations of myself—it’s nothing new, and often, I think I’ve gotten better and then I default back into the same patterns again.
I was talking with friends this week about my worries about my family—my dad who has had chronic health problems since October, other family members with health issues I am concerned about, one of my cousins died in Dec, and I am a family support for his sister who is left with a colossal mess, and so on. One friend said, “you sound like you are the mother of your family.” I laughed and smiled and went on with my day.
But later I talked with Dan and had to admit to this overwhelming feeling of hyper-responsibility for everyone’s well-being—that somehow it was my job to make everyone’s life better. This, of course, is impossible.
But this hyper-responsibility has been a part of my identity my whole life (I learned it from my who learned it from her mom, her learned it from her mom and so on). I feel it as a woman in our society, as a daughter, as a Christian (not necessarily a healthy one), as a pastor in some of my training (again not necessarily a healthy one), and letting it go creates anxiety. Will my family still know how much I love them if I am not hyper responsible for everything? What if they need something and I don’t show up?
Of course the problems are obvious when I say all of this outloud—my family already knows that I love them, over-functioning does not allow others to show up and contribute, or for me to receive their gifts, and it also means I do not think nor behave as if I trust God to take care of my family or me. All of this is all sin.
But once I said it out loud—again—since I have been here before—I felt my whole spirit lighten and this cloud I have felt in my brain cleared up. I started traveling lighter right away. Once we identify what we need to let go of, what it is Jesus is inviting us to release this Lent to travel light—then we can look at what spiritual practices will help us continue traveling light and not pick up anymore extra baggage.
For me, I have added a prayer in the morning where I picture God taking care of each of my family members, and then saying, “I trust you, God to take care of my family.” Also, when I get into hyper-responsibility patterns, I neglect my own self-care, so my practices in Lent will focus on better exercise and eating habits.
If what you need to release to travel light involves material possessions, then maybe making donations of stuff and almsgiving or offerings will be a good practice. If social media is your area, then maybe fasting from those practices and spending that time in prayer, in nature or in meaningful conversation are practices to do instead.
Traveling light with Jesus this Lent is not about giving up something just for the sake of it—
• it is to be unburdened,
• to have our spirit lightened,
• to open ourselves to God’s blessings and provisions,
• to trust God more deeply with whatever gives us worry and anxiety,
• it is to encounter God’s hospitality for us in the world, as we receive all we need.
So I invite you to lay your burden down and join me this Lent in traveling light.
Dan and I used to go to the movies a lot on our day off. One of Dan’s funny antics walking out of the theater used to be imitating the movie trailers we saw, most of which began with the same exact phrase in the 90’s and early 2000’s. I could count on hearing his imitations as we walked to the car:
In a world…where nothing is at is seems…
In a world… where violence rules the streets…
In a world… fraught with corruption…
He can do the deep, scary voice much better than I can. But this phrase draws us in by touching our anxiety and fear that we no longer live in a world we are used to and can navigate with ease and a sense of control.
Indeed, our world is not what it once was. If you were to write the movie trailer for life today—what would you say?
• In a world—where war rages and more international conflict looms
• In a world—where the economy is uncertain, and finances are squeezed
• In a world—where loneliness is its own pandemic and disease continues to threaten
It is different of course whether we are raising children, dealing with the shifts of middle age, or praying our senior benefits last as long as we do. The future has an awful habit of being unpredictable, uncontrollable and unknowable, all of which leave us feeling anxious and afraid.
I imagine the disciples feel the very same way as they follow Jesus. They left everything familiar when they walked away from their fishing nets, their tax accounts, and even their family to live a new way of life with Jesus. They too, live in a world whose future was as unpredictable, uncontrollable, and unknowable as it is today.
• One day Jesus is preaching and being well-received, and the next, the Synagogue leaders are in a fury.
• One day people are amazed at Jesus’ healing and the next, they’re full of derision at them for eating with sinners and prostitutes.
• One day, Jesus feeds 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish, and the next minute, he starts going on about how he must undergo great suffering and death, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."
Nothing was making sense or felt at ease. “Why is Jesus talking about suffering and death right after this miraculous picnic?” They wonder. “I signed up to fish for people, not for suffering, rejection and death – what is he up to…really??? What does the future hold?”
The disciples live in a world that leaves them feeling anxious and afraid. It is right at this moment when Jesus is about to head to Jerusalem, and the future he predicts of death and resurrection is about to unfold, that he takes Peter, James and John with him up the mountain. And Jesus was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.
There on the mountaintop, suddenly God’s luminescence fills Jesus. He is aglow with light and shimmering glory pours from him – radiating like the sun. Jesus’ presence becomes both transcendent and immanent all at the same time—both other-worldly and startlingly real in front of their very eyes.
In this one surpassing and sacred moment, Jesus answers the disciples’ questions, doubts and fears about the future – The veil of heaven draws back as God transforms Jesus into his resurrected form; and not only him, but, Moses and Elijah appear in their resurrected bodies as well. Peter, James and John behold them in the fullness of their heavenly being. What was an unknowable, unpredictable future is laid out before them in all its fullness and truth and predictability. The mountaintop experience of Transfiguration reveals the resurrection to the disciples. It turns a crucifixion prediction into a resurrection prediction.
When Jesus says, “and on the 3rd day he will be raised” he means it! The resurrection is real and they are seeing it with their own eyes and experiencing it with all of their senses.
This is the end of the story. This is the future toward which they are moving, toward which all of us are moving. There is no unknowable future. We know the end. It’s like reading the last paragraph of the Book of Life before you begin. It’s not death—war, disease, loneliness—it is life! Life with God, that begins, here and now through Jesus!
I would like to share a story of a time when the resurrection became real for another group of Christians. This story comes from an ELCA congregation in a rough inner-city neighborhood of the Bronx in New York:
One Easter morning, the Pastor and the worship team designed a drama that would help make the resurrection more real for worshipers. The drama started in the Sanctuary of the church and then moved out into the neighborhood. They acted out the crucifixion and resurrection story. When the congregation returned to the Sanctuary, the drama shifted to a courtroom scene in which the resurrection itself was put on trial.
When it came time for the witnesses to speak, the actor playing Mary Magdalene stood up from in the congregation and said, "I know the resurrection is real because Jesus said my name in the garden." Another actor playing Peter stood up from the pews and said, "I know the resurrection is real because Jesus cooked fish for me on the beach." At that point, the play was supposed to move to the attorneys' closing arguments. But something remarkable happened.
A woman, who was not part of the play, stood up and said, "Well I know the resurrection is real because my son was in a gang, but Jesus led him out of that life." And then another worshiper stood up and gave his testimony: "Well I know the resurrection is real because I was a drug addict and Jesus helped me get clean." And still another stood up: "I know the resurrection is real because I am an alcoholic and now, I have given my life to Jesus, my higher power, and I am getting help in a 12-step program."
And what about you? When have you experienced renewed life, a second chance, the washing of forgiveness, help you never imagined or expected, a sign of hope in the midst of suffering, uncertainty, or adversity? (You can watch the video here and see/hear 6 church members offer their testimony!).
In all of these stories, the resurrection is so real it overpowers and transfigures adversity. That’s why we have this story here. Peter, James and John need to experience that the resurrection is real, before they can head down the mountain toward the cross with Jesus. So even before the morning of that 3rd day after Jesus’ death, even before the morning of the empty tomb, and even before the angels and the women announcing that Jesus is risen, James could have stood up and said - I know the resurrection is real because I saw Moses and Elijah with Jesus on the mountaintop! And Peter - I know the resurrection is real, because Jesus calmed the storm, healed lepers and cast out demons! And John - And I know the resurrection is real because I saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead!
Like the disciples, we not only know the end of the story—we have already experienced the new life of the resurrection here and now! Our mission is to help others experiencing adversity, know that the resurrection is real. That new life, and forgiveness and joy and hope are available today through the power of Jesus Christ.
This happened numerous times yesterday at our free community breakfast—it was a great time with new people cooking and serving, and new people coming to eat.
We had one new family come—they arrived here 2 weeks ago from Odessa, Ukraine. They were so grateful for a free breakfast, and food from the food pantry. I showed their son our Luke’s Learners room and invited them to church. He played in the sand cross, and I prayed for them and for peace in their country, and tears were shed. For them, the resurrection was real in a warm welcome at St. Luke’s.
Another Mom came, originally from Nigeria, whom I know pretty well. She said she almost forgot about the breakfast today, but her 7-year old remembered and they got here just before 10 to get burritos for this Mom and 5 daughters! For those girls, the resurrection is real is in reliable food on the weekend!
Another new family came—it took me a minute to figure out they did not speak English. With my limited Spanish and Google translate, I told them we would be starting an ESL class soon and asked if they were interested? They said “yes!” The young man put his information in my phone so I can contact him when the classes start. The resurrection is real when help comes in adversity.
These are just 3 stories from 1 morning at St. Luke’s. Where might the resurrection become real anew for you this week? In your family? Through your friends? In your workplace or somewhere unexpected? Be a detective of divinity and look for places where the resurrection of Jesus is made real in moments of love and new life and grace and deep acceptance for YOU.
But do not stop there. Remember that God uses your resurrection experiences, your hope during adversity to help make God’s love real for the person near you who is struggling. How might God use you this week to help make the resurrection real for someone else? Ask God to guide you in this mission.
We do not know the details of everything that will happen in the future. But that does not matter. We can move into tomorrow, next week and next year with confidence, excitement, and hope, because we know all that we need to know: We live In a world where the resurrection is real and will always be our future! Amen.