Paul’s Message: The Season of Resurrection

Dear Friends,

We are entering the season of resurrection!

The journey of Lent has its challenges. Focusing on our brokenness and our need for God, it can be a little long, and a little dark.

But I would maintain that the season of Easter and resurrection is ever more challenging.

That’s because Lent focuses on where we are and where we have been, but Easter focuses on where God wants to take us.

When Mary Magdalene finally let the gardener go at the empty tomb (the gardener turned out to be the risen Jesus!) she had no idea where life would take her when she started proclaiming “I have seen the Lord!”

The disciples had no idea where God would lead them; they couldn’t imagine what God would accomplish through them (the beginning of the Church with a capital “C”!) after the risen Lord appeared to them behind their fears and locked doors on Easter night.

Given that he had persecuted so many and so passionately the followers of Jesus, the Apostle Paul had no idea of the miles that he would travel around the Roman empire for Jesus the Christ after the living Jesus knocked him off his horse on the road to Damascus.

If Lent is tough because it highlights our limits and failures, Easter can be tougher because it calls us to follow Jesus to vistas unknown.

Where will the risen Jesus lead you?

No matter who you are, no matter how old or young you might be, no matter where you find yourself at this moment, the promise of Easter is that there is more to discover. Even death, proclaims the Gospel, is not an ending. It is a new beginning. Try that on for size.

This month we are invited to step out of our tombs and into the light of day. After our eyes get used to the light, we are invited to recall the rebel Jesus who dared to challenge the powers that be. We are invited to follow him – to embrace like he did, to share like he did, and to risk like he did. Things might look one way (Good Friday despair), but God says go that way (resurrection action).

This Easter gospel is tough. WE might feel the urge to walk back into our tombs (after all, it is the darkness we know…). But Jesus invites us to not only discover but pursue the future unknown. It is challenging, but it is also blessed because it rests in the hands of a living Savior.
Where will the risen Jesus lead you?

Happy Easter everyone. May the season of resurrection lead you to new life.

Peace, Paul.

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  • Breakfast Encounter

    Last Friday morning, I stopped by my GP’s office to let them draw some blood for a test and to get my flu vaccine for the year. Because of the blood test, I had to ‘fast,’ arriving for the blood draw without having any food that morning. When the phlebotomist had drawn the blood and given me the shot, I went to a nearby diner to get some breakfast. Little did I know I was about to witness something extraordinary.

    While I was eating my pancake, egg, and piece of sausage and reading a book about Oscar Romero, a young man went up to the counter to pay. I didn’t notice any of this, of course (occupied as I was with not only Oscar Romero’s life and ministry to the poor of El Salvador, but also all that butter and syrup…) until the young man started yelling at the woman behind the counter.

    “Swipe it again!” is what drew my attention.

    She did, and the card must have been denied a second time. She ran it again, and the look on her face told me the same thing happened. Denied.

    The young man was getting more agitated and saying things to her under his breath. I was paying more attention now, and she asked if he had another card she could try.

    “No! I don’t have another bleeping card!” he yelled at her. Except he didn’t say bleeping.

    Now I’m not a stranger to harsh words. I’ve said them myself. Usually when I’m trying to get a rusted bolt off an old machine and it finally comes loose, taking some of my knuckle skin with it. And I think I quietly swore under my breath in January of 1988 when the Washington football team beat my beloved Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, 42-10. There have been other times too. But never, ever at a person.

    Upon being sworn at, the young woman stared at the man like she didn’t know what to do (how could she?). Tears were about to appear. And the air in the room went real still. Like in the movies. I’m sure the background music was still playing, but it seemed deathly quiet at that moment.

    I was about to get up and walk over to the counter—not exactly sure what I was going to do once I got there—when another man who had been eating nearby wandered up real slow, eyes staring at the young man. He was a tall guy, with white hair under his old IFA ball cap, probably in his sixties. He asked the young woman, “What seems to be the problem here?”

    And that’s when the young man made what I thought was a fatal mistake: he answered when he hadn’t been spoken to. “It’s nothin’. My card won’t work,” he spat back.

    I thought a fight was about to break out, but the older man, his eyes searing into the young disgruntled one’s face, reached for his wallet and said to the cashier, “Aubrey, I’d like to pay for this young man’s meal, if that’s okay with him.” And after getting out some cash, he put his hand on the young man’s shoulder, not one of those friendly pats on the shoulder, but one of those firm grips that, well, made me think he was making sure the lesson was going to stick.

    I’ve had those kinds of hands on my shoulders a few times over the years. Perhaps from a coach, maybe from my dad once or twice; they happen when a boy or young man really needs to start paying attention.

    And after staring at him for what seemed like an eternity, the old guy said, “Be kind.” And then walked away.

    The young man left the restaurant and climbed into an oversize truck that was parked right out front, cranked up the volume on his radio, and left some rubber on the road as he departed.

    I went into the church office sometime later to finish my sermon, but I kept thinking about angry people and hurt people and kind people and people who teach lessons to those who could use them. I also thought about people who have a head full of kind words who refuse to tolerate ugliness.

    I hope I can be someone like that.

    I have a feeling Aubrey earned a whole lot of tips that morning. She deserved them.

    Be kind.

    That’s all for now.

    —Pastor Derek

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