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A Word from Our Pastor 2018 April

Easter thoughts. . .

I find preaching on Easter Sunday challenging. People have high expectations; for some people this may be one of only a couple of times they attend church, so the message needs to be particularly compelling. Hardest of all: it’s basically the same point to be made: the gift of new life, of second chances, of starting over, of finding life in unexpected places. It’s a message we all need to hear, because if we really hear it, it can be life-changing.

Most people, even some of the most outspoken atheists, want an experience of God. We don’t always admit it, perhaps because we think it won’t happen to us. I don’t know what most people expect: flashes of light, voices from the heavens, doves or angels descending? What do you want? What do you think will qualify as an “experience of God”?

Julian of Norwich, an English mystic, had an experience of God in 1373, on May 8, God simply “showed her God’s heart,” and she spent the rest of her life trying to describe it in writings (one of her books is called “Showings”) and teach it to others. Others, like Angela Merici, who founded an order of nuns, had a vision at 17 that told her what she was to do. However, she didn’t get around to it until she was in her mid-50s. Others may discover God’s presence later in life.

But what the mystics teach is that we’re already having an experience of God: right here, right now. We’re always in the presence of God. To become aware of God’s presence in our life we have to “wake up.” (You may be reading this phrase a lot lately, as people are encouraging others to “stay woke” and pay attention to what is happening in our political and social life). Both Jesus and the Buddha talked about how to be awake and see. . . Jesus talks about staying watchful (Matthew 25:13; Luke 12:37; Mark 13:33-37). “Buddha” means “I am awake” in Sanskrit. Jesus also says, “If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light.”

The point is: to experience God we only have to see what is there. Simple, right? Not so much. The “world” – whether it is our love of comfort and luxury or our preoccupations with worries and fears – has us sleepwalking. In this state, we think that the world has the “right” to be at the center of our thoughts and activities. As long as we are focused so much on “the world” – we will not be able to see the bigger picture, we will not be able to see God. We will stay asleep.

Every now and then, a sliver of light peeks into the world, and we can see God. Perhaps we discover, like Julian of Norwich or Angela Merici, something that feels so right, we know that this is one reason we were put on this earth, we know what we were born for. When that moment comes, it is resurrection; with it, we know that grace is at work, everywhere, all the time.
May you have a blessed Easter.
–Rev. Naomi