My apologies friends, I had promised more than this but due to my knee surgery, and not feeling as good as I was expecting, this was all that I was able to get to you–take care all–(: Pastor Kathy
My friends, Eastertime is such a hope-filled time and especially when, as this year, in Minnesota, we are experiencing such beautiful, sunny, and warm weather. I wrote this line two days ago and now we are having near-blizzard conditions! The interesting thing though, that I have noticed of late, is that “hope” can be present, even when all isn’t necessarily going well in our lives.
Hope arises naturally in our human lives, I believe, as the impetus to keep us moving forward when the sad, discouraging, and painful things happen in our lives—illness, surgery, and the deaths of loved ones before we are ready. Sister Joan Chittister had somewhat of an answer for these times that may bring doubt: “Overtime [she has discovered], the cross is supposed to take its toll on us. It forms us to find God in the shadows of life. Ironically enough, it is the cross that teaches us to hope.” As I said, the hard things, keep us moving forward for the most part, especially if we want to keep engaging with life.
Eastertime also has the ability to bring forth “gratitude” in our hearts, even amidst the hard times. Our Scriptures for this Sunday exude gratitude. In the 1st reading from Acts, even though their brother, Jesus had died, and arose, we hear that, “the apostles performed many signs and wonders—that they divided everything among themselves on the basis of each one’s needs, with exultant and sincere hearts.”
In the 2nd reading from Peter, he writes about how they are all, “guarded with God’s power through faith.” And additionally, Peter commends all those who, “love Jesus and even though you have never seen him, you still believe.”
Then in today’s gospel from John, Peter’s words are confirmed by Jesus, “blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.” We are all included here, my friends. And the other wonderful line that Jesus says in this passage from John, “Peace be with you,” and he uses this greeting with each appearance after the Resurrection.
Once these followers are “at peace,” he then gives them their mission, “As Abba God sent me, so am I sending you…” So, let’s take a look at how these Scriptures apply today, bring hope, and gratitude—basically, new life.
Our parish, collectively, has been grieving the loss of our sister and friend, Shannon Hanzel, and because we haven’t yet had a celebration of life, a piece of closure is yet missing. And even as I say that, we each realize that we will never forget Shannon or anyone who has been a significant part of our lives and has died.
This is the “hope” with which each of us lives—that these loved ones can always be a part of our lives, but in a new way. After Shannon’s death, I visited her husband of 52 years, Jim, and encouraged him to “look for her in new ways—in the faces of his family members, in the stories of her friends.” I encouraged him and each of us, in knowing of the many ways that she touched others’ lives, to hold onto, these “heart moments and memories,” and with that, comes “gratitude,” even amongst the present sadness.
In my own life this past week, amid the pain and inconvenience of my knee surgery, I find that I am filled with hope for better, more flexibility than I am experiencing now. And right alongside that hope, is gratitude that I live in a time and place and situation that makes this repair possible for me!
And since I first wrote the above paragraph, I have been experiencing more pain with my knee post-op, along with other discomforts, so the final word on “gratitude” isn’t fully in…(: So, my friends, I will basically end at this point with a question to ponder this next week—considering that we are thinking about Jesus’ Resurrection and have established that “resurrection changes a person,” –we might want to think about what needs to be “resurrected” in us. Amen? Amen!