A message from the pastor

Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity…

Second Step, Alcoholics Anonymous

Dear Friends in Christ,

On Easter morning this year a disciple-sized group met for sunrise at Crystal Lake. (That means twelve people.) A party-sized assembly (about 80?) gobbled up about 800 eggs in under three minutes on our church lawn, just before worship. And then our sanctuary was filled with wonderful music, sincere prayers, a welcoming communion table, and a full house. And we heard a message about how those who first encountered Jesus’ resurrection ran away. Or as Mark says, they “fled.”

But, the question from the pulpit was whether the trembling and phobia and running in Mark’s Greek also means excitement and reverence, that sends us into action. That is, were they running away from something, or running toward something, with something? 

Of course it can be both. And there’s a clue in another Gospel, in the text we read many years the week after Easter. We’ll read it on April 7. After the resurrection John says “Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah.” And this is the origin of the phrase that is so wonderful in AA, and so wonderful in our Christian faith: “come to believe.” Belief is not forced on us. It doesn’t take place in a moment — even a moment by Jesus’ tomb or beachside, necessarily. But it is a process. We come to believe. We came to believe. That’s what we’re running with.

If you’ve ever read the little explanation of some of our Christian Education values that is on our website, it says this (and I copied this line from someone else years ago): it says “Faith is caught, not taught.” We come to believe, with the help of others.

This is why Wendy shops and sets up the ingredients for 100 sandwiches to serve Waltham each month. This is why Kitty organizes gatherings and meals and towels and clothing each year. It’s why folks come to Good Friday’s Tenebrae, and why they try out the Community Choir. So that we catch the habits from one another, and — even if we’ve been to Easter worship dozens of times before — so that we come to notice, to perceive, to receive something new. And then we run with it. Not to flee, but to move to the places of need in our world.

Frankly, even Easter isn’t a one-time, one moment event in Christian tradition. Eastertide lasts seven weeks. Some of us just come for the big event, but for the life-changing, world-serving bits, it takes those months, if not years. 

Frankly, this next year may test our faith on many levels. An evil tyrant attacks a neighboring nation in Eastern Europe. An ancient animus blossoms with modern cruelty in Israel/Palestine. A bridge falls down. Politicians become cruel. Neighbors in Newton are attacked for their faith and identity. A trans kid is bullied for theirs. My own spirit is assaulted by events near and far, so my commitment is to keep on making sandwiches, delivering towels, preaching ethics, advocating respect, and running toward the needs, not away from the negatives. 

One thing about both AA and the disciples who came to believe in John, is that it is so much easier and so much more meaningful and inspiring when we do it together. Which is why we’re a church. So a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. And then we spread the sanity.

Did I answer the question?

See you in Eastertide,

Ken's signature on a transparent background

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