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Fr. Paul’s “grown-up” sermon is here.
“For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:21-23
I remember in High School in an intramural soccer game, suddenly I was in front of the opposite team’s goalie with the ball at my feet. Another larger, more athletic boy on my team charged in behind me, and instinctively I stepped away to let him take the shot—I was too worried I would mess it up and have my teammates look down on me for it. My hesitancy did not help. The other boy blasted the ball so hard against the goalie’s hand that he jumped up in pain, with half his pinky finger at a right angle to the rest of it. I have never been good at sports, and that incident proved it beyond doubt.
It’s a small thing when put up against other failures I’ve faced in my life, but it is symbolic of just that. I fail. I mess up. I don’t always come through. I suspect you feel the same way about yourself. We see it in one another. Life is not all good, and we wish it were, yet try as we might, we never quite seem to get it right. We are somehow profoundly broken, both individually and as a society and a global species. There is no perfect society in the world, no perfect culture. I would go so far as to say that no culture is any more intrinsically whole than any other, or more broken.
This passage tells me that God knows and has done something about it. As a Christian, I see in Christ a process of redemption, beginning to unfold. We must die to our egos, our brokenness, even to our imagined dreams of a perfect society. Belonging to Christ means committing myself to loving as he loved, dying to my egocentric urges and ethnocentric fears for the good of people I don’t even understand, and trusting that such small deaths will ultimately transcend the big Death, which is to remain in our brokenness. In such a resurrection, death itself will finally serve no purpose and atrophy with disuse.
Loving God, on this day when we celebrate the resurrection of your Son, our trailblazer and guide, grant us the grace to witness the final death of death itself. This we pray by the power of the life-giving Spirit, and in the name of that same Son. Amen.
-Fr. Paul Moore
“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
If you have ever been a child, a parent, a friend, a human, you know the need for love. All creatures need love, and without it, they wither and die. Love is nourishment, and it includes forgiveness. How many of us do not need that? A toddler who runs out into the street finds he will be scooped up, scolded, and hugged all at once. Love for the little one covers up the anger at his behavior.
We use this kind of love in all our relationships. Loving and forgiving come hand-in-hand. It comes close to God’s agape love, being loved for oneself, not for what one has or has not done.
I have received this kind of love many times, and it has saved me. It is difficult to forgive myself, but the love of others has given me the courage and freedom to move on and try to do better at this thing called life. Thanks be to God and to those who can love and forgive.
Gracious God, we thank you for your undying, holy love for us. Without it, we would be nothing. With it, we are able to live and love those you have given us. Amen.
“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds…” – Hebrews 10:24
Sometime back in the ’80s, Skagit County decided to build a new jail. The original building was located on top of the courthouse, a metal structure that was probably freezing in the winter, steaming hot in the summer, and miserably cramped. The new design promised to be the latest in technology, larger, safer, and full of cameras. My husband Dennis was a paramedic at Skagit Valley Hospital and he and the rest of his crew were invited to visit the jail before it was officially opened so if they had to go and pick up an inmate they would have an idea of the layout and protocols. I was permitted to join the tour and gathered with the group outside THE DOOR on that chilly day. The portal opened silently and our guide pointed out that it was six inches thick but it wasn’t quiet when it closed after we entered, it made a huge booming noise. The rest of the tour showed us no privacy, hundreds of cameras, and a special room with a drain in the middle of the floor for inmates detoxing from alcohol or drugs. No way I wanted to end up in that facility.
Last year, a group of us at St. Paul’s formed an OPOP team, One Parish, One Prisoner. OPOP is an organization that matches an inmate who is going to be released with a dedicated team with the hope that with support, love, prayers, and visits, when this person is liberated from the prison’s walls, they will not return because of a lack of housing, food, driver’s license, programs to help with drug and alcohol addiction, absence or no family members, unpaid fines and no money.
I’m not sure why our incarcerated friend was chosen for us but I feel it deep in my soul that he will be like the starfish I picked up on the beach in Florida and placed back in the ocean so it would survive, that with our OPOP team, the OPOP organization that started us on our journey, our congregation, the community and with God’s help, he will survive.
Thank you, Lord, for helping us to heal and restore a person with love and good works. Amen.
-Mary Ann Taylor