Praying for enemies…forgiving others…

 

Recently a friend shared a story of how he was brought up short when he was praying the Lord’s Prayer. Everything had been going fine until he reached the line that says “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Oops!

What happens when we hold on to our anger against someone else? when we refuse to forgive them?

What about those people we consider “enemies”? Are we supposed to pray for them as well? to forgive them? Isn’t it right to hold them accountable? to have righteous anger?

Are we supposed to pray for them to change? or for us to change? Are we supposed to just roll over and let them do whatever they want?

I’ve struggled with those questions. There aren’t easy answers.

When I think of those questions, I’m reminded of a scene I enjoy in Fiddler on the Roof: Tevye is saying that they have a prayer for everything in the community. We see the students coming out of the synagogue with the rabbi, with the rabbi’s son asking him if there is a prayer for the tsar. The rabbi thinks for a moment and then says, “May God bless and keep the tsar…far away from us!”

Sometimes that’s the only way I can pray. And maybe that’s a start.

Sometimes I just have absolutely no idea of words to use. And that’s okay as well. If the desire is there, that is the start of prayer.

Praying for enemies…forgiving others…sometimes starts as an act of will. Sometimes I almost “throw” those prayers at God, saying something like “Okay, God…I have no idea what to say or what to pray for, for these people. But here they are. I give them to you.”

That doesn’t mean that we can’t be angry at the results of their actions (or inactions)…or that we can’t hold them accountable…just as others hold us accountable.

We have to see them as loved children of the Divine–just the same as we see ourselves. That’s not easy. But only then can we begin to find–and create–peace in this world.

 

 

 

Easter is over…or is it?

See the source imageWe’ve made it through Lent…through Holy Week…through Easter. It wasn’t like we’ve done it in the past. We weren’t able to gather together with family and friends. We didn’t share in church services with wonderful music and messages. We didn’t get to have Easter egg hunts with our children and grandchildren.

In some ways, it was just another day to get through. And we’ve made it through. Easter 2020 is over.

But is Easter really over?

The day is…but not Easter. Easter isn’t just about one event on one day. It’s about a way of life.

True, on Easter we celebrate a resurrection. But the spirit of that event is ongoing life! It’s a continual resurrecting!

It’s seeing new life beginning, even in the middle of darkness. It’s hope in the midst of despair.

So while we’ve “finished” with Easter 2020…we’re not through with Easter. Not really.

We’re living in the middle of uncertainty, just as they did 2000 years ago. We don’t know how life is going to turn out…the same kind of questions they had 2000 years ago.

But if we live in the spirit of resurrecting, we have hope that death is not the end…and that the spirit of love will bring new life.

Happy resurrecting!

Easter Monday…now what?

It’s Easter Monday. So now what?

Yes, the tomb is empty–but we haven’t seen him. We know what Mary said…but she’s just a woman, and you know what that means. They’re so likely to get carried away by their emotions!

So what are we going to do? Go back to the way things used to be?

But we can’t.

We’re stuck in this limbo between the comfort of what we once knew and the uncertainty of the future we thought we saw.

So what do we do?

We can try going back to our old lives, but once we’ve allowed him to touch us, that isn’t the road we’ll end up finding ourselves on.

It’s a new world for us. We see with new eyes and want everyone to know the possibilities that have opened before us.

We can’t keep silent! The needs are so great–and the message of hope we have is so profound.

We can’t go back, even if we try. The tomb is empty…and he’s going ahead to prepare the way.

It’s Easter Monday–and a new day has dawned.

Holy Saturday…Dark Saturday…

How do I come today? I just feel out of sorts–discombobulated. Part of me wants to just sit…eat everything in sight…play video games all day–but another part of me wants to be busy doing creative things. And I end up feeling paralyzed.

What do I desire? To get unstuck!

I think this is what it must have felt like that Sabbath of Easter weekend! I’ve said before that it was long and dark–but we’re living it now in many ways.

There’s a major trauma. Life as we’ve known and experienced it is over–and we’re stuck at home, not sure what the future holds.

Just like Jesus’ followers.

So how did they pass the time? Thinking about how good life was “before”? being angry at what happened? blaming God? crying? going back through scripture to see what they had missed?

Probably all of that.

So in a lot of ways that gives me hope for where we are today. The feelings that we have are normal…

And we know what happened after that Sabbath.

Yes, life as they knew it had ended–but a new way of life was beginning. We know that.

So maybe–just maybe–we’re in that dark Sabbath time right now, wondering what’s happened to us. But a new day will dawn–bringing with it a new way of life.

I don’t have any idea what that will look like any more than Jesus’ followers did. But I think we’ll find him calling us–asking us to create a new way of living…a new community…that can change our world. If we don’t give up hope…

Holy Week…2020

This week between Palm Sunday and Easter is going to be unlike any Holy Week most of us have ever experienced.

Normally we would have gathered in large groups yesterday…watched (and perhaps joined with) children parading around the sanctuary, waving palm branches in memory of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem.

We would be gathering together for Maundy Thursday services, sharing in commemoration of that last supper.

Many of us would be sharing in a Tenebrae service on Friday night as we go into the darkness.

And then we would be gathering in more large groups, celebrating the Resurrection with family and friends…enjoying Easter egg hunts and dinners with family…

But not this year.

This year most of us are staying home…unless there is an urgent need to go out for groceries or medications.

We are not getting to see each other face-to-face. Some of us have been able to share in services via Zoom or other media platforms, and while that’s provided some wonderful opportunities, it’s not quite the same.

But maybe this week is allowing us to experience more truly what that first Holy Week was. There weren’t large crowds at the events. People were worried, uncertain of what the future was going to hold.

Some of you may have seen this post by Rev. Allison Lanza on Facebook. But if you haven’t, I think it’s an important read…something to ponder as we go through this Holy Week.

The very first Easter was not in a crowded worship space with singing and praising. On the very first Easter the disciples were locked in their house. It was dangerous for them to come out. They were afraid. They wanted to believe the good news they heard from the women, that Jesus had risen. But it seemed too good to be true. They were living in a time of such despair and such fear. If they left their homes their lives and the lives of their loved ones might be at risk. Could a miracle really have happened? Could life really had won out over death? Could this time of terror and fear really be coming to an end?

Alone in their homes they dared to believe that hope was possible, that the long night was over and morning had broken, that God’s love was the most powerful of all, even though it didn’t seem quite real yet. Eventually, they were able to leave their homes, when the fear and danger had subsided, they went around celebrating and spreading the good news that Jesus was risen and love was the most powerful force on the earth.

This year, we might get to experience a taste of what that first Easter was like, still in our homes daring to believe that hope is on the horizon. Then, after a while, when it is safe for all people, when it is the most loving choice, we will come out, gathering together, singing and shouting the good news that God brings life even out of death, that love always has the final say.

This year we might get the closest taste we have had yet to what that first Easter was like.