Faith in the Public Arena: An Experiment in Healing Prayer on a Suburban Sidewalk

Epiphany Episcopal Church Kristofer Lindh-Payne Prayer
 
For the last three years, members of Epiphany have gone to public spaces like light rail stations, coffee shops, parks, street corners and shopping districts to offer the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday (for more info see epiphanybaltimore.org for video link and written reflection). When people have asked
about the experience, each year we’ve said things like, “Let’s not wait until next year to come up with another creative expression of sharing our faith”.
 
There are elements of our rich Christian tradition that aren’t much of a stretch to share with our wider community. Each year we talk about ideas for creative evangelism (dare I use the “e” word), but most ideas don’t see the light of day. It’s weird, but even for an extrovert like me, it’s difficult to put myself out there in these out-of-the-ordinary contexts. It feels risky somehow, and more than a little outside even my comfort zone.
 
After lots of conversations, prayer and planning, I took a very small action step with this today in offering anointing and prayers for healing outside a local Panera. While this blustery cold January morning might not have been the wisest choice for an outdoor effort, it seemed a good idea when I set the date weeks ago before with my fellow co-rector, Kathryn Wajda. 
 
Epiphany is a place that takes healing seriously. We have offered midweek healing Eucharists, have stations for healing every Sunday during worship, and have a list of people we pray for that is so long that it can leave you out of breathe if you pray the names aloud.
 
On Sundays we offer two services with communion, and even with strong lay leadership and a cadre of clergy, we could wait a long time before all the pews in our building are filled up for both liturgies (images of flying pigs come to mind). In a time when more and more people make the choice to not participate in a regular rhythm of worship, prayer, and faith formation in community, maybe God is calling us to take our faith to the streets in thoughtful, care-filled ways. No offense to passing out religious tracts that draw fear-filled lines of exclusivity or walking with placards condemning this group or that one, but that is not what I am talking about here.
 
The world in which we live in, the communities we inhabit, the families we are part of, even/ especially ourselves are in need of healing. That’s not to say that our churches don’t need healing too (because of course they do), but Jesus and his disciples did not spend most of their time hanging around the temple or synagogue waiting for people to show up. They went to where the people were and they preached and teached, healed and mealed, cast out and raised up. How much time do we spend as followers of Jesus just waiting, hoping that people will flow though our doors?
 
The choice for Panera was an obvious one for Epiphany because after our 8 o’clock service on most Sundays people gather at Panera for breakfast together. Parishioners didn’t mind the idea of having one of their clergy leave the altar to go out into the world in an effort to bring a loving witness and an offering of healing prayer to members of our community on their way to grab a coffee, danish, or breakfast sandwich. In fact some were even excited to see how it went when they arrived for their regular breakfast routine after worship. This seemed like a safe place to start such a ministry when many of our parishioners already call Panera “Epiphany West” (I’m considering a pilgrimage to St. Arbucks also, as well as a range of other neighborhood hotspots).
 
Well more than a hundred people walked back-and-forth from their cars, hurrying in from the cold. While only a few stopped for prayer, many made comments, and all were greeted with a warm “good morning” as they came to the doors. Lots had comments to make about the cardboard sign set beside me that read “May I offer prayers for healing for you or someone you love?” They said things like “How nice” or “God bless you.” The most popular was something akin to “Geez, it’s cold out here. Are you going to be okay?”
 
I couldn’t help but think about the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, Michael Curry, and his address to our General Convention a couple of years ago in which he challenged us all to become “crazy Christians”. I had the sneaking suspicion that a few people wanted to call me just that this morning.
 
Not only did more than a hundred people pass me by, but well over a thousand Canada geese in a bizarre migratory pattern also made their way past me as I sat shivering.As each beloved creature of God passed me by -friend and fowl alike- I found the intensity of my prayers escalating as I felt them ascend in heaven- bound spirals. While I would’ve much preferred to pray with more people, the opportunity to pray for all of these children of God really warmed my heart in spite of the cold.
 
Yes, it was cold, for sure. In fact, so cold that I could see my breath and probably every other person that shuffled past. Watching all this breath brought to mind the Hebrew word ruach- a word that I seem to remember means both breath and spirit. While I may have gone out this morning with the intention of bringing healing and love to the world, what I found myself left with was the even more profound reminder that God’s Spirit is present in each one of us in this breath of life. I needed that reminder that God is present and active in the world, and that we are called to first witness then engage with this powerful, life- giving Spirit that calls us to be healed and to heal others.

–the Reverend Kristofer Lindh-Payne

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Thoughts on reading Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

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Have you read Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden? Actually, the full title is Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West. I read it a week or so ago on my Kindle, and I can’t stop thinking about this man, Shin Dong-Hyuk, and this unforgettable book. I think most of us can recall a few “unforgettable” books, and this one is certainly on my list.

In fact, I’ll even go out on a limb here and say I think it’s . . . changed me, somehow. Now, I’m not going to give all my money to Amnesty International or fly to Seoul and release balloons with subversive messages about Kim Jong-Un. Maybe I won’t end up doing anything in response to reading this book, but I hope that’s not the case. Even though the story is difficult to read and yes, shockingly brutal at times, it didn’t depress me and make me feel insignificant in the big picture. Instead, it made it clear to me that any kind of existential struggle and questioning about the meaning (or lack thereof) of my life and choices, seems not the least bit interesting or relevant anymore. Here it is, good and evil, very little “gray area.”

I even found Camp 14 on Google Maps, for crying out loud, and that somehow made it all feel much more real and personal to me. You can find the Kaechon prison camp, too, outside the town of Bukchang.

Now, I haven’t talked much about the actual story. Here are a few facts. Oh, and that word, fact? Did it make you wonder how we know these are facts, given that the story seems almost too sick and evil to be true? Well, Shin bears the scars on his body as proof. He has held up his shirt and shown his back to cameras, rolled up his pants legs and showed the burn scars from when he crawled through the electrified fence–over the body of his friend, who didn’t make it. I think that was what made me the saddest, seeing him show his scars. It wasn’t the scars themselves, exactly. It was him having to show the scars, and knowing how painful it was for a long time, for him to even talk about his life in the prison.

He was born in the camp.

He didn’t know anything about “God” or “love.” He never felt any tenderness from his mother. In fact, he viewed her mostly as a competitor for food.

The author, Blaine Harden, says that he didn’t lose God, or lose any kind of faith. Rather, God simply didn’t exist for Shin.

He was there because his uncle managed to escape to South Korea. Yes, his uncle. The “crime” against the state must be punished by lifetime imprisonment for three generations.

Now, it is not a pretty story, obviously, and this man is still struggling to live in the world outside the camp. However, one thing in his story encourages me, as someone who aspires to the Christian life. In an interview, he talked about being concerned . . . are you ready? For the guards. Yes, the ones who tortured him and killed his family. To paraphrase, he said that he believed many of them would suffer terribly from guilt and trauma about the brutality and torture they’d inflicted on innocent people. He said he understood, now, that they were also victims, caught up in this evil system. That sounds like forgiveness to me, and in that I see the hand of God — and I remember the words, “Father, Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Here’s his Facebook page. I hope you follow him on Facebook and read Blaine Harden’s book about his “remarkable odyssey.”

https://www.facebook.com/NKSDH?fref=ts

–Amelia Franz

Have you read the book? Even if you haven’t, what do you think? Don’t be shy, leave a reply!

http://www.epiphanybaltimore.org/shin-dong-hyuk/

A Moment Lost

kristoferheadshot-150x150I waited listening, trying to pay close attention to the comments of leaders from our church, seeking the words that I myself was feeling led to speak: synthesizing, hesitating, preparing. When I heard them: “I rise to make a motion to table the resolution…”

These words made my heart sink this afternoon when discussion ended (without any action) regarding Adoption and Implementation of a Non-Violence Training Program at the 229th annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

Now let me be clear- I feel like we accomplished some really good things at Convention (including resolutions on poverty, violence and the environment) and I love this opportunity we have to gather as a wider church. And furthermore, I do not long for another requirement for leaders in the church to be added to an already long list of mandates (important though they may be).

And yet, I have felt the powerful effect of a training like this one, on my own life and ministry, that teaches creative approaches to non-violence — both interpersonally and systemically.

Now I have three college and graduate level degrees, but I have never been a part of an institution that valued the ethic of non-violence so greatly that it would take the chance on making such education a requirement. My wife, Heather, whom I met in college, actually created a non-violence curriculum for children as part of her senior project, because she felt like it was so critical.

I guess I wish that the church – a body that seeks to follow Jesus still today, some 2000 years after his own violent death – would jump at the chance to teach people how to face courageously into the violent realities of our world and choose differently. I am not talking about about learning rhetoric or theory about why we should give peace a chance, nor a gathering of people waving the peace sign at each other. I am talking about the kind of things that one can learn from people like Colman McCarthy at the Center for Teaching Peace in DC (to name one of many approaches). I met him through Heather, when we were in college, and things I learned from him (almost 15 years ago) still impact my life today.

Because the world in which we live is constantly assaulted by violence, our traumatized selves, families, and institutions of all sorts seem to be blind to the fact that there are other ways to do things. But I am not sure that most people would choose to practice those ways – to learn how to be creative about our responses to the onslaught of violence in our lives – unless communities like the church get serious about teaching it. If the church doesn’t see it as important enough to mandate, as a practical way to live into the second part of the Great Commandment (to love your neighbor), than why should anyone else?

I wish that when I was a small child and I experienced being bullied for the first time that I had tools to handle the situation. I wish that when I was 14 years old – hanging out after my first high school basketball game – that I had those tools when I watched a classmate “stomped” within inches of his life by a bunch of other classmates. I wish that I had those resources when my school floundered to respond to this violence as retaliative attacks erupted. And I am so glad that I did have those skills when (as a young adult) I witnessed what seemed like most of a fully-padded middle-school football team “jump” three other boys in the middle of the road as I sat at a stoplight. In that moment as I recalled my non-violence training, rather than retreat into whatever primal fight, flight or freeze instinct, I got out of the car and ran toward the altercation screaming the Lord’s Prayer. This was just one of the many “out of the ordinary” approaches we learned, but it was the only thing that came to my mind in that instant.

At the beginning of our Convention, we recognized the one-year anniversary of the shooting at St. Peter’s in Ellicott City. So many, so many more, have died since that day. How many more will be injured or killed? How many more will injure or kill? I believe that the church is called to be a witness of Christ’s love today, and that love can be exhibited in countless ways. I only wish that we could have used the opportunity that we turned away from today to do something different.

Brian McLaren (our keynote speaker) held up the critique of many who do not wish to be part of the church: the voice that denounces “organized religion”. He further clarified that for most the trouble is not with organized religion, but with the fact that religion is organized for the wrong purposes (and often poorly organized at that). McLaren called our Convention to participate in the liberating work of God and the priorities of Planet, Poverty, and Peace. I could really feel the Spirit moving.

We concluded our Convention, as requested by Bishop Sutton, with the prayer attributed to St.Francis of Assisi: “Lord make me an instrument of your peace…”. I regret, however, that that petition cannot be more easily realized, as I believe it would have had the resolution been passed.

Those words “I rise to make a motion to table the resolution…” still resound in my heart and mind. Mostly because I did not say anything. The moment passed and I missed it. Because I wavered, looking for the right words, a moment was lost. Its not that I feel like my voice would have changed anything in the vote (though I concede that that is possible). It’s more that I have to walk around with this “truth” festering inside me for the next year, until next Convention when we might talk some more about it again. I know that I have to let that go, but my heart feels heavy.

Tomorrow I will rise and go forth to the table that Jesus set for us all. I pray that when I do, I do not go to that table “for solace only, and not for strength, for pardon only and not for renewal”.

Lord, please, make us all instruments of your peace. And please do it quickly, in spite of ourselves and in spite of our reluctance to act.

- The Rev. Kristofer Lindh-Payne, Composed on a bench outside the Maritime Museum, 5/4/13

http://www.epiphanybaltimore.org/a-moment-lost/

How Much Did Those Shoes Cost? Thoughts on the Factory Collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh

 
“Where are those shoes from?” “How much were those pants?” “Who made the shirt you are wearing?”
 
I am embarrassed to say that I don’t have answers to these questions, but the garment factory collapse in Bangladesh last week that killed more than 400 workers has me searching for them.
 
On the radio this morning, I heard various American shoppers interviewed about the recent tragedy. I was struck by the callousness, the disconnect, the lack of understanding that the clothing they had just purchased could very well have been made by someone working in that factory. The report went on to share a study that placed two identical articles of clothing side by side in a department store, the same price, only one had a sign stating that the shirt had been made in a factory that treated its workers justly (fair wages, safe conditions, etc.). The study showed that when priced the same, shoppers chose the latter.
 
With a variation of only 5% of a price increase though, shoppers began to regularly chose the cheaper product that offered no information about factory conditions. Is the cost of human life worth so little?
 
The report left me at a loss for words…that is, until my eyes fell upon this collect as I prayed compline (“night prayer”) from the Book of Common Prayer. It reads: “watch over those, both day and night, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil” (pp.134).
 
How often do I forget about these literal “threads” that link our common lives? I wonder how often you do. I expect it happens to most of us. All of us even, at least some of the time. Even if I was able to live into that vigilant awareness, what can I do about injustices that occur on the other side of the planet? Is choosing not to buy something really enough? It’s not like this kind of stuff that happens here in this country, right?
Later this afternoon I listened – from across the lunch table – to someone recount terrible stories of how members of their family, working in a Baltimore area factory, were subject to unsafe work conditions, and were harassed and arrested a mere generation ago for trying to organize to change this unjust situation for the better.
 
This is a reality in our world and it doesn’t have to be. We can do something. We must do something. God cries out for it. Change is possible.
 
In Luke’s gospel account, when Jesus is faced with the provocative question “and who is my neighbor?”, he responds (brilliantly, I might add) with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Most of us know how that story ends. If you don’t, check it out (Luke 10:25-37). I don’t want to be the guy that walks past and does nothing, but I know that there are times when I am “that guy”. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget. I forget about those threads that connect us all. I forget to love my neighbor. I forget and I am sorry.
 
As I prepare for bed, please God, “watch over those, both day and night, who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil”. And when I do forget again, please forgive me, God. Forgive me, and guide me to change. To change not only myself, but also work to change the injustices in this world that deny human dignity – that fall down upon your people. Show us the way to resurrection and new life.
 
–The Rev. Kristofer Lindh-Payne
What do you think? Don’t be shy, please leave a reply!

http://www.epiphanybaltimore.org/how-much-did-those-shoes-cost/

Rick Warren and the Beautiful People

What was your first thought when you heard that Rick Warren’s son, Matthew, had committed suicide?  Whether or not you agree with Rick Warren’s theology or his stance on human sexuality or anything else, you probably couldn’t help but feel a moment of real sympathy for him and his family. Maybe you said a prayer for them. Could anything be worse than losing your beloved child?

What was your next thought? You probably don’t remember, but I remember mine. It was something like this: Guess he and his family weren’t as “together” as they seemed. After all, he’s the author of The Purpose-Driven Life, the pastor of a church where 20,000 people worship on Sunday mornings. He even eats breakfast with the President now and then. People look to him not only for spiritual guidance, but for life guidance.

Well, that kind of thinking is completely wrong, start to finish, mainly because mental illness has nothing to do with being “together” or not “together.” It’s just that, an illness. It can happen in any family, and can’t always be cured–not by prayer, or doctors, or therapy, or medicine.

It’s not the first time I’ve found myself thinking this way, though. I thought the same thing a few years ago, when I heard that a couple I knew from my former church were divorcing. They were the beautiful people, you see. Their luxurious house boasted a scenic view, a pool, a three car garage. The inside was straight out of one of those Martha Stewart-ish magazines. The husband was a high-level executive at a well-known company. The wife, of course, was pretty and smart. I’ll bet you can guess what their kids were like: adorable, blue-eyed, early readers, the “deep end of the gene pool”. She sent out those form letters every Christmas. You know the ones–”Our family is so blessed”–followed by an enumeration of the many, many ways in which they’ve been blessed.

It wasn’t so much those superficial things, though, that made me think they “had their act together.” At Bible Study and parent get-togethers, she spoke freely and eloquently of their spiritual life–how they prayed together and sought God’s will in their lives. She thanked God for keeping them strong and united, and prayed that He would continue to bless them with the strength to weather any storm.

So I wouldn’t have believed they were divorcing it if I hadn’t overheard it from one of their children. She was telling a little friend that she didn’t want to talk about her parents’ divorce, because it made her feel her so sad inside. At that moment I wanted more than anything to give her a big hug, but I respected her privacy instead, pretended I hadn’t heard anything, and went about my business.

At some point, I found myself thinking it:  Guess they weren’t as “together” as they seemed.

Do you ever find yourself saying those words? I don’t know why I do it. I know the proverbial truth: The rain falls on the just and unjust alike. I know that we’re all broken in some way, “screwed up,” as my son would say. Isn’t that why many of us come to church, anyway, because of some soul-deep brokenness that will never be fixed in this life? I know all this. I suppose I just forget, but maybe I shouldn’t forget. Maybe I need to remind myself that the person I’m sitting next to in church or at a school fundraiser has probably lived through, or is living through, some unspeakable pain.

The “resurrection stories” that Epiphany parishioners have been sharing on Sunday mornings recently can remind us all of  this truth. There is healing and victory in these stories, to be sure, but also admission of human sadness and pain even in those who do, in fact, seem to “have it all together.” I’m so glad that these brave souls are sharing these stories in this powerful way, and I hope we continue the practice.

What if I made it a point to remind myself  that the person I’m sitting next to–this well-dressed, smiling, outwardly confident and competent person–is really hurting, or has been, or will be? What if I imagined this person as the heartbroken parent of a child with a mental illness, whom all the prayers, doctors, and medicine in the world can’t heal? As the parent who sat alone in the dark and cried the night before from sheer frustration, or maybe didn’t cry at all, out of fear that once released, their tears would never stop?

What if I imagine that the person who’s annoying me for whatever trivial reason, has been diagnosed with cancer and is terrified of death and leaving behind his loved-ones? Or realize that he or she might have had to stand and watch, helpless, as his or her life partner walked out the door for the last time. I could picture her having to tell her children that their lives are about to change in a big way because Mommy and Daddy won’t be married to each other anymore.

The particulars vary, of course. Maybe nothing awful happened this morning or last night, at all. Maybe it was a lovely evening, a restful sleep, and pancakes for everyone in the morning. But it will happen–today, tomorrow, next week, next year. The pain will come, no matter how much you pray or attend church, synagogue, or mosque, no matter how close to God you might appear to others or yourself.

Maybe it wouldn’t make a difference at all if I performed this imaginary exercise. After all, he or she would never even be aware of what I was doing. But the thing is, you just never know. It might end up meaning something, after all. It might even make all the difference in the world. I’m going to try it with someone this week. Will you?

–Amelia Franz

What do you think? Don’t be shy! Leave a reply!

 

 

http://www.epiphanybaltimore.org/rick-warren-how/

April 16, 2013 – A Reflection on the Boston Bombings by Patrick Kangrga

“When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus… asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus… came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”

-“Excerpt from Good Friday reading for 2013” John 18:1-19:42


As Christians we thought that the terror of the tomb was behind us. We thought that Christ had risen. And then suddenly, tragedy strikes. The bombings at the Boston Marathon have death reaching up from the grave yanking each one of us back into the tomb. We are kicking and screaming but it seems like that large rolling rock will close the entrance and leave no exit.

How is this the time of the Risen Lord? How do we live into the liturgical season of Easter and live out the Resurrection after yet another tragedy? As people of faith, how do we address the pain of people and places currently grieving their loss, currently still stuck in the limbo of Holy Saturday unsure if tomorrow will bring a miracle or if it will just be a normal day like any other where the dead stay dead?

There are no simple answers. This is the kind of thing that can shake our faith to its foundation. It’s the kind of thing that can contribute to people letting go of their faith altogether.

Just a few weeks ago, Episcopalians celebrated Resurrection Sunday with Christians all over the world. We attended our Easter vigils and our Sunday morning services that had the waving of brightly colored streamers over our heads and fanfares of epic portions. We saw attendance at its height and shared the Good News of a Risen Christ with complete strangers and long lost family. And is all that for naught?

No! The difference in our religious celebration and now is the difference between being in the moment and having perspective. We celebrate Easter because Good Friday happened. We call it, “Good Friday” in hindsight. It’s Good Friday for us because we know that on Sunday Jesus got up out of that tomb in the most victorious way. But for the disciples, for the people who knew and walked and talked with Jesus, that Friday was far from good. It was the worst Friday, the worst day in human history up until that point.

Except maybe for what we call Holy Saturday. That day of waiting and in-between time when Jesus was laying in the tomb unmoving, lifeless and all the people thought that was it. For them this was the end of the story. Not even the promises of Jesus, the promises that he would be resurrected were enough. For it was as true then as it is true now that oftentimes words are not enough, we have to see to believe.

Right now, many in Boston do not realize that Sunday is just around the corner. They may be too grief-stricken like Mary who wept so much that she could no longer recognize Jesus, the Risen Christ standing in front of her in the middle of the garden near the tomb. The pain of many Bostonians will change the short walk to Sunday into what appears only as the long walk of Christ to the Cross.

For families and friends and others that are affected, these next few days and weeks and months will be the suffering without the redemption. There will be the loss without the hope. They will know the truth but witness none of the Grace. They will lose all perspective and be confined to the hellish wait of Holy Saturday.

So to return to the question, how do we escape this return to the tomb? How do we live into Easter and live out the Resurrection in the midst of tragedy? Well, some have already given us the model, set the examples.

There are stories about runners in the Boston Marathon who were doctors and nurses finishing the race and after finding out what happened went directly to the aid of the hurt and the afflicted. There are stories of people offering up their homes and hotel rooms to complete strangers. There are people giving blood, volunteering their whole bodies to labor, and others opening their souls to God in prayers of the people for the people of Boston.

As the people of Boston and others walk this painful path, we are to be their Simon of Cyrene. We are to help them carry their cross; help them to bare their burdens. Remembering that as we walk with them, we are the sign and symbol and in some mysterious way the real and tangible presence of Jesus Christ, our Resurrected and Risen Lord in their life.

For when they may have forgotten or never heard the promises of the Good News of the Gospels, the promises that Sunday and Resurrection are just around the corner, they can look to us. They can look at their neighbor. They can see in us and in our love the love of God, the promises of Christ fulfilled.

And God willing in that moment of seeing, they may become people who believe in resurrection. They may become people who believe that there is life after death and suffering. They may even become people who live into that new life.

http://www.epiphanybaltimore.org/april-16-2013-a-reflection-on-the-boston-tragedy-by-patrick-kangrga/

Saturday, March 30

easterrisenI have to admit that I have always found it difficult to know how to feel and act on Holy Saturday. I am caught between knowing that Jesus was crucified and died an excruciatingly painful death on Good Friday yet at the same time, knowing the rest of the story, that He gloriously rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. So on Holy Saturday I am conflicted… should I continue to keep silent and dwell on His pain and suffering or get excited and anticipate His resurrection during this day between these 2 extreme experiences? What emotions would be considered holy or appropriate during this 24 hour gap? Does anybody else have this heart and soul dilemma on Holy Saturday?
 
I believe the Holy Spirit is starting (just barely) to reveal to me how important this period between the crucifixion and the resurrection is in terms of meaning and purpose. Holy Saturday can become for me a time to reflect on the extent of Christ’s compassion for me and the whole world in the same way that as Martin L. Smith describes that Jesus descended into hell and ministered to those separated from Himself on the first Holy Saturday. Once again I am blown away by the extreme love of Christ for mankind and each Holy Saturday gives me the opportunity to focus on my commitment to Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit as I await His imminent and glorious resurrection.
 
Thank you Holy Spirit for working in our lives during another Lenten season when we have searched for greater understanding of Christs’ death, celebrate His Resurrection with childlike acceptance three days later, and feel peace and contentment during the time in between. Amen.
 
Christ is risen… He is risen indeed!
–Pam Wright
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http://www.epiphanybaltimore.org/saturday-march-30/

Friday, March 29

goodfridayThe Ultimate Sacrifice with a capital U. In the Gospel of Mark (10:38) Jesus asks two of his disciples if they “are able to drink the cup” that he drinks, or, “be baptized with the baptism” that he has been baptized. Jesus goes on to promise them that they WILL be able. What confidence Jesus has that his approaching death will not be in vain! God’s plan will prevail! The message for us is that through our own baptisms, we must embrace the sinners on either side of us and count ourselves in their company, before we can fully understand the power of God’s love for us. We must think twice before using the phrase, “There but for the grace of God go I”.
–Sue Elinsky
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http://www.epiphanybaltimore.org/friday-march-29/

Thursday, March 28

Today’s reading focuses on foot-washing. How strange it must have been for the disciples when Jesus washed their feet, for them to look down on the one they considered a master as he performed a servant’s duty. It seemed to disgust Judas and horrify Peter. I wonder how I would have reacted.

In our American culture this lesson is contradictory to our ideas of rugged individuality and being the master of our own fate. I find it challenging. It can be painful to let go, to say “yes”, to yield to the unconditional love that Jesus has offered.

When do we allow another to wash us? When do we allow ourselves to feel that vulnerable? How do we break through our own reluctance to serve and to be served, to love and to be loved?
–Peggy Hardin
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http://www.epiphanybaltimore.org/thursday-march-28/

Wednesday, March 27

In John 15:4, we are invited to abide in Christ, “Abide in me as I abide in you.” As I consider this inviitation, I am struck by just how difficult I fnd it to answer in the affirmative. To abide in Christ is to sit by him as a companion, often in times of quiet. I am so often caught up in what needs to be done, or comes next, that sitting quietly along side anyone, even Christ is a challenge. On this Wednesday in Holy Week it is my prayer that I, and all of us will pray for the courage to wait with Jesus and see what happens next.
–Kim McDonald
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