Saturday, April 25, 2020

From Mother Vicki

Now on that same day two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him.....As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Luke 24: 13-16, 28-32 NRSV

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

This Sunday, the Third Sunday in Easter, our Gospel is the Easter evening story of two disciples walking on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, sad because their teacher, rabbi and friend Jesus had been condemned to death and crucified.  They were also bewildered because they had heard stories about the tomb being empty and visions of angels, and they didn't know what to believe.  Jesus joins them on their walk, but they don't recognize him.  After explaining why they're sad, he says how foolish and slow of heart they are, and takes the opportunity to interpret the scriptures and the necessity for the Messiah to suffer these things before entering into his glory.  Encouraging him to stay with them, they finally recognize him as he takes bread, blesses and breaks it and gives it to them.  "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us?"

"Slow of heart" and "hearts burning within us:" two different figures of speech, both dealing with emotion and spirit.  As The Rev. Meigs Ross shared with us in a Diocesan webinar on grief and loss, loss is emotional and spiritual.  Someone has died.  Our emotions and spirits are overwhelmed.  For some of us, we can't stop crying.  For others, we are upset with ourselves because we can't cry.  There is no right way to mourn and no correct way to grieve.  We are each different.  But our hearts are in the mix.

These dear disciples are open to Jesus and his words because their hearts have been broken and they are questioning what is real.  In the process of listening to this stranger as he explains the importance of suffering, their hearts are stirred.  They don't want him to leave them.  And so they invite him to stay and are blessed for their generosity of spirit by his revelation to them that he is Jesus the Messiah before he vanishes from their sight.

We are in a great time of fear and anxiety, of tremendous loss in many different ways.  Easter is about seeing our life in a new way, seeing beyond the grave, beginning to understand that suffering is a part of our life on earth, and through suffering the risen Christ is revealed to us, if we are open to that miracle.

This week we mourn the death of Dorothy Woods Stone, a daughter of this congregation and Carol Walsh's former sister-in-law.  Dottie, as she was known, died suddenly last Sunday evening at home at the age of 62.  She was beloved by many.   May she rest in God's peace.
We also pray for Carrie Parkey and her family as they mourn the death of her brother Neil, who also died last Sunday night.  Carrie was grateful to be able to be with her brother and family as he passed. May Neil rest in God's peace.

In Mayor Spano's weekly letter to the community he is attaching a video of the five bells from our front lawn and formerly from Saint Andrew's Church that are now ringing in front of the new Fire House every evening at 7 p.m. as we continue to applaud all who are on the front line, our doctors and nurses, EMTs and first responders, everyone working in hospitals, nursing homes and group homes, and all who are working to supply us with the goods and services we still need.  Some of us are quarantined or sheltering in place, others are working long hours.  Everyone is struggling with the loss of some kind of freedom.  This is a very difficult time. What a wonderful use of the bells.

And so we pray for each other by name.  Please continue to email or phone me with names of those who need our prayers. More than ever, our prayers for others are important.

Thanks to Naomi Henderson who is our first reader this Sunday for the Acts of the Apostles, and to T.J. Hamilton and Jonah Henderson for helping with Psalm 116.  Thanks to Chris Canty for the second reading from 1 Peter.

Even without meeting together in a shared space, we continue to be Saint John's Episcopal Church.  Don't forget to mail in or use Paypal for your weekly donations, and don't forget your special Easter Donation!  Together we are the body of Christ.  Our phone calls and kindnesses to each other and to neighbors and friends are part of Saint John's ministry.  Keep up the good work and keep Saint John's going!

Please join us for our second ZOOM COFFEE HOUR ON SUNDAY, APRIL 26 FROM 11:30 TO NOON.  This worked wonderfully last Sunday.  It was delightful to see people! Please join us with your cup of coffee for some on-line sharing and laughter! See below for instructions on how to join us (either by internet or phone!)

Our grieving and mourning are part of the healing process.  May Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Savior, open the eyes of our faith that we may behold him in all his redeeming work.

Easter blessings and joy,
The Rev. Canon Victoria Sirota

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