It was just a few weeks ago that we had our First Communion Retreat with our fifth graders. It was in the midst of one of those nor’easter snow storms. Despite that, it was a special day and as always, an exciting time. We begin our Retreat by talking about baptism – and we spend a good part of our time in conversation. But even before we get together, families are reminded to talk with their children about their own baptisms – and particularly about their child’s day. Things like: Who was there. What happened. What it means. And why it’s important.
Memory is a powerful building block in our lives.
We take time together as a class to talk about those memories and why it’s important for us to remember those special times and the promises that we make, as a family. (more…)
Always during Lent – and particularly as I read the lessons that begin Holy Week – I think of my travels to Israel. My first trip was more than 30 years ago, with my mother and more recently with folks here, with a group from Faith. It is a remarkable place. Full of history. Where the pages of the Bible come to life. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Looking out over hills, capturing the same sky, the same views that Christ saw with his own eyes. One of the things that I’ll never forget is the Mount of Olives. With the magnificent view of Jerusalem, the perspective there of the Holy City. Simply incredible. Walking down, the trek is treacherous – through networks of graves and tombs marked with rocks and stones. I can’t help but think about Jesus making that walk down that hill more than 2,000 years ago. Descending to the depths of humanity. Through crowds of people, Despite the warnings, continuing his travels to Jerusalem, closer to the cross, where he would take his last breath. He knows, he called it, claiming what was coming long before anyone else recognized what was happening.
It’s the Prophet Isaiah who predicts the coming of the Suffering Servant – the one who will bear our pain and heal our wounds. The one who is called to show us God’s mission, who doesn’t turn his back to the onslaught of abuse, but fully accepts what’s to come. He is the one who God sends to “sustain the weary with a word” and exposes his own vulnerability in doing so. It’s Jesus who took the unpopular stand to seek out those who are poor and weak – and it’s Jesus who gives us the words to use to be the voice of the least. To make a stand for justice and to walk, to march for fairness in a world where integrity is lost; in a world that that too easily overlooks the broken and the impoverished – too often at the expense of those who need it.
The Gospel today gives us a glimpse of the crucifixion and its implications for the church. Jesus is preparing his disciples to serve and to follow him… And he predicts his own death, using the image of the dying seed. A seed that’s scattered – one that is transformed and grows – and finally renewed – and surrounded by new life.
Our faith is like that. We’re here…on this journey through Lent – reflective season – one that encourages us to pause, to pray more, to be more intentional about our actions, and reactions. And one that reminds us of our own mortality as we walk with Jesus each week, closer to the cross. We know the story – that in the coming days Jesus will be tried and crucified…will die and rise and that he and us will be given new life.
While each of us begins this new life at the font – beyond that, our lives are different…In between, the story is different – and the journey is different – for each of us… Each of us, as people of faith, is called to discipleship – and what follows that re-birth at baptism varies. (more…)