Easter So Far

I go to a non-traditional church. This after most of my life of conservative evangelical churches.

I still consider myself evangelical. I’ll tell you all about what I believe if you want to hear it. You get to have agency and responsibility for your own faith. I will never force you to wear mine. God trusts you on your journey, why wouldn’t I?

But church is part of my life. I don’t look at church as a building. That’s too confining. I consider it the people I live my faith with. Some believe similarly to me, I suspect some are atheists.

Faith is not a point in time – it is an active journey. I believe God smiles as we grow. As we see more and more of our own flaws and worry less and less of those of others. As our mind expands to see God in people not like us and learn from everyone.

Last night was our Maundy Thursday service. Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper. Jesus washing the feet of the disciples.

We eat supper together. Mediterranean. Think charcuterie trays, breads and crackers, hummus, olives, nuts, apricots, apples, and dates. It’s a beautiful spread and great conversations.

Then we have a very short service and communion. One thing I love about my church is few of us think more words are better. One of the women in our church has a gift of taking scripture and making it relevant and practical. She writes for and directs our reader’s choir. I love reading her words.

Most years Maundy Thursday service ends in darkness and quite somber. This year it started in darkness and ended in light,

Most churches think service means sitting and listening. Our church often believes it means acting and doing.

Today it’s a very rainy Good Friday here. That is the day of the crucifixion. I’m just going to copy some words from a Facebook post I did about our “service”, because I am too lazy to type again.

Today for Good Friday we gathered at the old jail, our meditation on the old hanging tree. We were supposed to gather underneath it, but the porch of the old jail was a good and appropriate haven from the rain.

The hanging tree

We then delivered Meals on Wheels. There were meditations along the way. Let me share. I’m not sure if all the places were all the same for others, but these were mine.

At Fifth Street Shelter (our homeless shelter) – Reflection 1 – “I thirst.”
At a parking lot on Rickert St: Reflection 2 – “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Dozens of streets became dead ends with the construction of Industrial Blvd., now Garner Bagnal. The construction othis major thoroughfare separated oI town without regard to the damage and neglect it might cause the southside neighborhoods. How can we be part of building bidges in our community?”)
Parking lot of the jail: Reflection 3 – “Today, thou shalt dwell with me in paradise.” (How can we be a part of improving our
prisons and judicial system? How can we help those impacted by these two institutions?
Near Statesville High School: Reflection 4 – “Woman, behold your son; Son, behold your mother.” (Grace is partnering with Speak Life and Live in an effort to make a difference in the lives of our young people. Much of their program takes place in the high school. How can you participate?)
At a home where meals are delivered: Reflection 5 – “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Take a minute before you leave to read this reflection and ask how we can do more to sit beside the lonely in our community.)
Iredell Memorial Hospital – Reflection #6 – “Abba, Father, into your hands commit my spirit.” (How can you use “faith” as a verb for those who are sick and alone?)
Oakwood Cemetery – (On this Good Friday, we have traveled on the road that confronts the suffering in our world. Before traveling to whatever is next in your day feel free to drive through the cemetery it stop, but take time to read this last reflection.) Reflection #7 “It is finished.”

You may not know the places, but wherever you live I suspect you can places where you can relate.

“It is finished.”

So many churches, so many Christians, insulate. They act as though they fear being sullied by the “sinners” around them.

I love a Jesus who said to love my neighbor, whether they live my “religion” or not. Who hung out and served prostitutes and tax collectors. Who healed the sick. Who fed people and made more wine out of water so the party could continue. Who chose imperfect disciples, even knowing they would fail him. Who questioned God and said “are you sure this is the only way?”

A couple of times I have stood in the room in our state prison where they administer the death penalty. It’s tiny! There is room for a few observers, a stretcher that the person dying would be on, and a curtain behind that. No one knows who administers the lethal injection – it can be one of several people.

I get queasy just thinking about it, even knowing the person committed heinous crimes.

But suppose that person was innocent. Suppose they were dying in place of someone else. Suppose the evidence was clear they were innocent, but no one would change it all from happening.

That’s Good Friday.

But wait – there is more to come.

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