Saturday, May 20, 2017

6 Easter Yr A May 21 2017


Rick and I were married 33 years ago this November. If your math is as good as mine, that makes it 1984. We met through YMCA camp, I was the waterfront director and he was a camp counselor. But the point of this is baseball. When Rick and I met and were dating, we went to the Metrodome for Twins baseball. Now, in those days, I rolled my eyes at baseball, boring! And actually fell asleep during baseball games. But I went, because he seemed to enjoy it and I loved him. We got married, and had kids, and brought our kids to the Metrodome for Twins baseball. As long as the kids could walk under the turnstile, they were free, we packed our own hotdogs in our picnic basket, and got to the dome early so we could sit way down in front, or on the third base line to watch batting practice. Before the game began, we'd move up into the nosebleed section into our own seats. I grew to love baseball, our kids love Twins baseball, and we go whenever we can, even to Miller Park! These days, if you see me checking my phone, it’s to get the score of the game. It's crazy what we'll do for love. 

In the fifteenth chapter of John, following what we hear today is, "This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you." And what we have from John this week is a follow up to what we heard last week. John reminds us, you know how to do this, love is hard, and you can do hard things. John reminds us that love is about a relationship, love God, love yourself, love others. And in John, Jesus reminds us that we will not be left alone, love is a hard thing after all, and so Jesus gives the Advocate. Advocate is one way to translate the Greek word, Paraclete. Paraclete can function relationally by designating one who brings help, consolation, comfort, and encouragement. All of these meanings however, derive from the most basic meaning of the word to “come along side another.” A colleague was telling me that there was a time when a person who was standing for trial literally stood in the box the entire time. A Paraclete is the one who stands with, the one who holds up, and the Paraclete was the one to come along side to help the person stand throughout the trial, and if needed, to stand in for that person. This is the image that John evokes in this passage, this is the truth of what Jesus does in this passage. Jesus shows us what God's love for God's people looks like, we are not left alone, we are not left to our own devices. 

What is hard about love, is that our world has led us to believe that love is about a feeling, that love is the same as romance, or passion, or sex. Love comes and goes. You can fall into and out of love. But that is not this love that God commands, that is not the love that this story shows us. A real love story is a story that shows a relationship that endures, a relationship in which the lovers treat each other well, respectfully, compassionately, lovingly, even when they don't feel like it, even when they don't want to. A real love story is a story in which a father pushes his son's wheel chair for the whole race, so that the son will know what it is like to run. A real love story is when one friend, who is blind, puts his friend who has no legs, on his back and they go about living life together. A real love story is when a couple watches baseball together, because they've grown to love baseball together. 

Love is holding another person up, when all we want to do is fall down. Love is holding another person up when it seems impossible to stand another moment. Love is standing there for another person, speaking on behalf of the other, being the voice for the voiceless, love is showing up. And it is hard, so Jesus leaves this Spirit, this Advocate, this Paraclete, with us, we are not left alone. 

Love is hard, and you can do hard things. Have you ever known that Spirit, that Advocate, that Paraclete coming along side of you? This Spirit, this Paraclete is hard to identify. But it lives somewhere in the wind and the flame of compassion, of grace, courage, faith, peace, laughter, music, strength, and joy.  

Love is hard, and you can do hard things. When is a time when you have wanted to just lie down and quit, or even die, but someone came by your side and held you up? When have you been broken and spent, and someone came by your side and gave you words of encouragement? When have you been ready to throw in the towel, when have you been ready to call it quits, and someone came by your side and said, that's why a baseball game is nine innings. When have you stood by the side of one you love, when doing so may have seemed doomed. 

An understanding of Advocate is "to speak on behalf of another." In John, this is a manifestation trinity that is different than the more familiar Spirit, as in wind or fire. We’ll hear more about that manifestation of the Spirit in the coming weeks, when we celebrate the feast of Pentecost. But here, in this part of John, the Advocate will stick up for you, and you will stick up for others. You will bear witness, you speak on behalf of love, you will stand by the side of the other or the beloved, you will hold one another up, because you can do hard things, because God loves you, and because Love wins even if the Twins don't.

What amazing good news this is, especially as we face the challenges of these times. The Advocate has our back and will never give up on us. It feels empowering, like when someone is with you and for you, you can take risks, you can try things you didn’t think you’d try, not because you won’t ever fail, but because failure won’t destroy you when you’ve got this kind of support. You can try, and try again, and try yet again because you have an advocate.

And it’s hard to be generous, brave and compassionate when it seems like so many are not; when we witness people in all aspects of our civic lives, and even our personal lives, use language that is divisive and hurtful. It’s hard to be generous, brave, and compassionate when you feel that no one hears you, or even when you are afraid. Remember though, you can do hard things, because the Advocate stands with you, and even stands for you. You can do hard things, because God’s love wins, and God’s love welcomes all. We can do hard things, because we stand with and for each other, because we are nourished with bread and wine, body and blood. We can do hard things, because we are sent into the world bearing God’s love. Amen.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

5 Easter Yr A May 14 2017



5 Easter Yr A May 14 2017 Audio

The words that open this chapter of John’s gospel are words of comfort and hope. Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me.” As Jesus’ suffering, death, resurrection and ascension approach in this gospel, Jesus is giving his followers, including us, words of truth, good words to hang on to. Again, our lectionary is disjointed. In the season of resurrection, in the season of Easter, we find ourselves returning to a time when Jesus was teaching his disciples. But what Jesus is teaching his disciples is all about the promise of resurrection, it is all about life filled with God’s love, God’s abundance.

This gospel of John continues to show us what it means to live as Easter people. This is a story that shows us what John's understanding of eternal life looks like. Eternal life, the life that Jesus promises, the life that Jesus inaugurates with resurrection. We are Easter people, we are love carriers. And this story shows us that.

Jesus says "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." 
I am the Way. The invitation is not to a simple answer, but to a complex relationship. Jesus stands at the sheep-gate and calls our names. Jesus invites every one of us into this relationship that begins now, and continues through the fulfillment of all time, John calls this eternal life. Jesus has prepared and is preparing room for us, a place that where Jesus is, we are also. 

This is a relationship that breathes new life, a relationship that is about transformation, a relationship like no other. We know Jesus, and come to God through Jesus, not by a one time conversion, not by saying the right words, and not the same for all of us. Instead, we belong to Jesus, it is in Jesus that we are truly who we are meant to be. We journey together, we are a community walking the path together. The way is a way of continuous conversation and discovery. The way is not a single answer we can teach our children; it is an adventure we share with them and with Jesus, our companion on the way. It is an adventure that will bring us to people in whom we meet Jesus. The way is not a list of conditions we must assent to; it is how we are loved, it is how we love, it is how we give, it is mercy, it is compassion, it is justice.

Jesus says, I am the Truth. Truth is encountered on this adventurous journey. Jesus is the embodiment of truth. Truth is not defined narrowly. Truth is about a lived reality. Truth is the story of life, death and resurrection. Living in relationship with Jesus is the truth. The truth will accompany us on the journey whose destination is unknown, but is promised to be magnificent. Truth sets us free to make our home in Jesus. We see at the journey’s end a spacious place, open and welcoming, full of grace, far greater than the bounds of our understanding, full of the expectation of our return.

Jesus says, I am the Life. We define life so narrowly. In our culture it seems more and more that the boundaries of life include seeking ways to alter the reality in which we find ourselves. Our culture sells us images of fame, images of bigger and better everything, from homes to cars, trucks, and body parts; rather than inviting Jesus into the midst of that reality and living it fully. Throughout the scriptures we gather and glean that God’s deepest desire for humanity is to live life fully and to know the abundance of God’s love. 

Life is the relationship that Jesus invites us into, a relationship with him and with others. Life, love is the call to us in this world, right here and right now, in our work, in our homes, in our schools. Life is the relationship that Jesus calls us to, a relationship that demands loving oneself and loving others. A relationship that is full of living, a relationship that is full of giving. Giving for others, giving of ourselves, giving because it is the right thing to do.

The way, the truth and the life is not a narrowly defined exclusive club for people who profess a particular way of belief. The way, the truth and the life is an invitation into a transforming relationship with Jesus, a relationship like many of our relationships, with good days and bad, with joys and sorrows, with arguments and apologies, with forgiveness and new beginnings. 

The way, the truth and the life is an invitation into a transforming relationship with Jesus, a relationship that is lived out in community, lived out with others who also each day strive to bring their passion about and their love of Jesus into the world.

The way, the truth and the life is an invitation into a transforming relationship with Jesus, a relationship that brings meaning to life and death, and new life. A relationship that speaks the truth in the face of evil and injustice, a relationship that makes possibilities out if impossibilities. 

The way, the truth and the life is an invitation to live a life of meaning, and sometimes that is hard. I think in this story it is as if Jesus says to us, you can do hard things people. Loving me and loving one another is sometimes hard, and you can do hard things. So we come together here, in this church, to remember this. We come together, with all our own hurt, and with all the hurt we've caused others, we show up. We listen to the stories, we share our common prayers, we break bread, and we remember who we are, and something happens. We are made new, somehow the fissures of our hearts and souls are filled with bread broken, love spilled, truth lived, life reborn. 

It is such an expansive invitation, a call to each and every one of us. The house has many rooms, enough for all. The sheep-gate is for us to enter, it is not to keep people out. This house is the place where love wins, it is the place where hearts are healed, it is the place where new life arises out of death. It is the place where we can do hard things. In this house your brokenness is received, the fragments of your life are collected. In this house you don't have to have it all figured out, you can sit in the mystery and your heart will dance. 

And in this house, where all this messiness and healing and dancing happens, God’s love overflows, your love overflows and your love shows others how the cracks are filled. The cracks in our lives and in our common life together caused by poverty, and hunger, the cracks caused by drugs and alcohol, the cracks caused by power and greed, the cracks caused by fear. These cracks can only be filled with the love that overflows, the love that wins.

The call to us includes a sending. We are sent out to love and serve others. We are sent out to bring God’s healing love and grace into the world. We must act on this love, we cannot just say it, or sing about it, or think it’s pretty. Because love is what we do. Love is what God does, and we are God’s hands and feet. Walk in love as you are loved. God’s call to us, when we answer it, can change the world. Go, and change it.

Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleulia.   

Sunday, May 7, 2017

4 Easter Yr A May 7 2017



I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. During the 50 days of Easter, we read the stories about Jesus appearing to his friends, after Jesus has been resurrected. But today we go back. We go back to this story about the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd story follows right after Jesus heals the blind man. On the 4th Sunday of Easter each year, the Good Shepherd story is interjected into the series of stories of Jesus’ appearance after the resurrection. It’s a good story to hear each year at this time, because it is important for us to hear about what it is that God accomplishes in Jesus in the resurrection. And resurrection has everything to do with abundant life, the abundant new life that the blind man receives as he is healed, the abundant life the sheep have as they respond to the shepherd’s voice, and the abundant life that Jesus invites us into.

Jesus stands at the gate and invites. Jesus stands at the gate and says everyone may enter here. Jesus stands at the gate welcoming every one of us as he calls our names. This is what abundant life looks like. Resurrection is about abundant life. We are Easter people, Jesus has and does invite us in, and abundant life is available to us, to everyone, right now, not just at the end of our lives, not just at the end of time, but right now.

The story of Jesus healing the blind man, which immediately precedes this Good Shepherd story, is one of seven miracle stories in John’s gospel. It is a story about the blind man who hears Jesus voice, recognized who Jesus is, and is healed. That story continues as Jesus stands at the gate, calls our names, and invites us in, you, me, and the blind man. Jesus offers love, healing, compassion, and mercy. Jesus offers wholeness to our brokenness. Jesus offers life where there is only death. Jesus offers sight, when all around us there is darkness. Jesus, at the gate, offers entrance into new life. Oh my, what an offer. Are we willing to take Jesus up on the offer? Are we willing to walk through the gate, that is Jesus, and receive the miracle that is resurrection?

The miracle stories prepare us for the miracle of resurrection. Resurrection is a miracle of awareness, aliveness, an awakening. We have stories that help us roll away the stone of our tomb-life. We have stories that remind us that others have suffered as we do, and as those we love. We have stories that reassure us unexpectedly and unpredictably, that on the other side of suffering there is life. We have stories that help us to awaken and live. These are resurrection stories. These are stories about how we recognize Jesus. These are the stories that will set us free.

In the introduction to his book, Celebrating Easter and Spring, Mark Harris says, "If we believe in a creative power that shatters the icy tomb of winter with the life-giving miracle of spring, we have seen a resurrection. If we believe in a creative power that moves tens and then tens of thousands of people to cry out against injustices of society, enabling the downfall of hatred and prejudice, then we have fomented a resurrection. If we believe in a creative power lying within each human breast that enables us to break the bonds of personal pain and know the hope of new tomorrows, then we have experienced a resurrection."

This is what Easter is about; this is why we are Easter people. In the book of Acts, from which we hear this morning, is the story of people who live in the reality of resurrection, who are Easter people, and who formed their lives and community around that reality. Those who had been baptized devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. The response to resurrection is awe.

I am in awe because of the wonders and signs of resurrection. It is because of resurrection that we are baptized and we devote ourselves to the apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. What is it about resurrection that causes such fervor? Resurrection is a present and future reality. Resurrection, what happened at the first Easter, is about God’s interruption of human history, God has created this amazing new thing. God raises Jesus from death to new life. The promise is that the same will happen to each of us. That is what is meant by the present reality, and the future reality.

It is this reality in which we live and die. It is the promise that on the other side of suffering and pain there is abundant life, life that is unimaginable. It is the promise that in the midst of suffering and pain, in the midst of the muck and mess that sometimes just is life, God is with us, God loves us and cares about us. It is when we say, I cannot bear this suffering, that we remember that God's love for us is so great, Jesus bears that suffering for us on the cross.

In this Easter season we live on the side of abundant life. We live in the reality of new creation. The Good News is that death does not have the victory, the Good News is that love Wins. Life finds a way. Baptism, teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread and the prayers is our response to the gift of abundant life.

So in the resurrection and by the Spirit, the word, the sacraments and prayer, and in those in whom we are called to serve for Jesus’ sake, the absent Jesus is present to us. So in the midst of our pain and suffering, our joy and delight, we say yes to Jesus, we walk through the gate with Jesus, to new and abundant life. We are to be agents of new creation. We pray daily to our Lord, that the Kingdom should come, that God’s will be done. That is about the present reality of word, bread and wine, and prayer and the future reality of the new creation right here on earth.

We need to get to the work that God has given us to do. God's mission is healing and forgiveness of and in the world, and our mission is to bring that good news that God's love wins into the world. God continues to teach us to be compassionate, to listen to others whose opinions and beliefs are different than our own, to listen to each others faith stories, to identify our gifts and talents, to live out our baptismal ministry.


We need to walk through that sheep-gate, and invite others to come with us.  We need to recognize the risen Christ in others, we need to serve Christ in all people, Jesus calls us, how will we answer?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

3 Easter Yr A Ap 30 2017






3 Easter Yr A April 30 2017 Audio

Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread. From the moment my journey in the Episcopal church began, this is the scripture, the prayer, the action, that made the presence of Jesus Christ real for me. There is nothing about church, about community, about family, about faith, about compassion and justice, about baptismal promises, about a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ, that is not contained in this little collection of words, if only we can recognize. Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread.

As a child, I lived in a community of people. I am five of eight. There were most always people around, and the liveliest times of the day were our dinner meal. We would scrunch around our kitchen table, someone would have to sit on a stool at the counter, actually, the bread board, remember bread boards? in order to get us all in. I wonder if then I recognized the wonder in all that chaos. When my extended family would gather for holidays there were 23 of us grandchildren. We would enjoy a meal together, but not much quiet. Often many of us little one’s would end up staying the night wherever we were, eating breakfast and lunch together the next day, and playing of course. I think the seeds of understanding Jesus’ real presence were planted in those gatherings.

In the summer of 2013, Rick and I, and Tom and Amanda, and Willie went on an incredible journey, and among many amazing things we did, we met some of our Norwegian relatives. They were as happy to meet us as we were to meet them. A cousin, Jan, took us to see the land on which our ancestors farmed. We were profoundly moved as we stood on that land, and felt the timeless connection to those who came before us, and those who will follow us. We recognized that connection, that story that joins us all together. At Jan's home, we ate a wonderful meal of Norwegian porridge, and pork, and cheese, and bread, of course. The next day we gathered with my cousins Kjell and MaryAnn, and had heart shaped waffles with cloudberries.

Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread. 

It makes so much sense, as we journey together through this life, that breaking bread together is the central activity for us, we come from farmers after all. The most radical activity that Jesus engaged in was to invite people to a meal. And everyone got that invitation. Not only were there religious leaders, there were tax collectors, there were women, single women at that, women who were protected by no one. At table Jesus taught about the kingdom of God. At table Jesus disrupted the social order. At table, Jesus nourished not only the body, but the spirit and the soul as well.

When we gather together at this table we come from home and work and school; we come from far away and down the street, we come and we tell our story, and we tell the story of God’s activity in our lives; we tell the story of creation, blessing, turning away, God loving us back into relationship, repentance, reconciliation and restoration. We tell the story of life, death, and resurrection. We tell the truth.

The story that we know and we tell, is about how God saved God's people from the flood waters, and God freed God's people from slavery in Egypt. God brought God's people out of exile back into their land and God came to live and die as one of us, Jesus is in our midst.

We read and we study and tell these stories. We listen and talk about what God did and continues to do in this world. We tell these stories to our children. And we do because they help us remember who we are. We remember who we are and we recognize one another and we are recognized in the breaking of the bread and the prayers. We give thanks for our blessings; we ask for healing for ourselves and others, we eat together.

That is what happened with the two in our story today, who were walking away from Jerusalem, dejected, alone, afraid. Wondering what it was all about, wondering how it all went so very wrong. And the one who told the story of Moses and all the prophets, who told them the story of Jesus, joined them. They invited him to stay, he did, they ate together, and they recognized him. 

We recognize Jesus in the people with whom we gather to share and tell our stories, and the stories of our faith; we recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread, we see Jesus in the hands, and in the eyes, and in the faces of the people at our sides as we come to this table to eat. 





But we also recognize Jesus in the stranger, and the alien, and the immigrant. We see and hear Jesus in those who are out there, those who continue to live in isolation, in loneliness, in hurt, in this broken world. We recognize the freedom, the peace, the community that can be theirs as well.

Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread. You see, it’s not just in the baking of the bread, it is in the breaking of the bread, the bread broken for you and for me, the body broken for you and for me. Our wholeness comes from brokenness, our healing rises up out of broken hearts that are mended by God’s love. Humanity is made whole once more by the real presence of Jesus in our midst, in our lives, in our brokenness, the broken bread.

Risen Lord, be known to us in the breaking of the bread. Help us to recognize you in word and sacrament, in story and in food, help us to see you in the midst of this community, and help us to see you in those we greet each day. Help us to be agents of your new creation, standing on the ground that you have already won in your resurrection. And help us to be your ministers, to go out and be your hands and feet. Help us to help others to recognize you.

For that is what we are called to do in our baptism. That is what we are called to do each time we renew our baptismal promises, as we will do here today as Hayden is being baptized, each time we come to this table to take the broken Jesus, and return the love that is first given to us. We die with Jesus, and we rise with Jesus, to serve and love, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Alleluia! Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia! 3 Easter Yr A April 30 2017 Audio

Saturday, April 22, 2017

2 Easter Yr A Ap 23 2017



2 Easter Yr A Ap 23 2017 Audio

Last week we left off with Mary Magdalene running from the empty tomb early in the day and announcing to the disciples, "I have seen The Lord." Today we pick up the very same story, on the evening of the day of Resurrection, with the disciples in a house with the doors locked, and Jesus came and stood among them. But Thomas was not there. Later, when the other disciples saw Thomas, they proclaimed the very same words that Mary Magdalene used, "We have seen The Lord."

When was the last time you missed some really big news? Do you ever claim, "why am I always the last to know?" Imagine Thomas, wherever he was, clearly not with the others. Maybe he was picking up the beer and snacks, it looked like they were going to spend some time in that house locked up, they were fearful of those who put Jesus to death. So Thomas, unaware of what was going on, finally shows up only to find out that he missed the big deal. He missed this alleged appearance of Jesus. And, he's not taking the word of the rest of his friends on this, he wants to see for himself. It's not that he doubts Jesus, he doesn't believe his friends. Thomas wants to see The Lord, he wants to see and even touch the wounds, he wants all the gory details.

But what's even more important is that Thomas does something for us in this story. Thomas, through this experience of seeing and believing, joins us to the beloved community that will never see the person of Jesus in this life. So it is not so much about believing without seeing, as it is about being made part of this relationship with Jesus through the community that is forming. The community of the beloved disciple, as Raymond Brown, a New Testament scholar calls it. We, like Thomas, claim the resurrection. Jesus is talking to all of us, not just Thomas, not just those gathered in the room, but to all of us. And in this relationship, in resurrection, all of us have a different sort of life, a life of mystery and craziness, a life transformed. The gospel writer, John, calls this eternal life. I call it, being Easter People. 

So, the story continues with the disciples locked in this room, afraid. Jesus came among them and said, "Peace be with you." And I'm sure they replied with "and also with you" because they were all good Episcopalians. And then they rejoiced.  Resurrection is about choosing love over fear. Love transforms us, fear strangles us, love creates community, fear isolates us, love wins, fear kills. This amazing occurrence, this truth that death does not win, this truth that even in joy there is pain, is what Easter is about.  

We have walked the forty days of Lent, we buried our alleluias, we confessed our sins, we have been engaged in our spiritual disciplines, whatever they were, and here we are. Singing and proclaiming the alleluias, rejoicing and sharing God's peace, as Jesus first did with us. The sorrow and pain of our lives is no less, you know that, I know that. We live in a world filled with the sadness of lives ended too young, the horror of children across the world dieing because they don’t have enough to eat, the pain of depression, anxiety, and addiction. This sorrow and pain is no different for the truth of the resurrection, but what is different is that we are joined to Jesus and to one another as we walk the way. Jesus says to us, with and through Thomas and the others, believing is not seeing, believing is the gift of finding me in one another, believing is the gift of doing this life together, believing is my body broken for you, so you may be whole and holy. Be not afraid. Fear prevents people from seeing, fear prevents you from seeing, from shedding our old self to take on the new real self. Fear moves us to grasp for the safe and secure rather than reach for the real.

This story, of Thomas who says he wants to touch Jesus' wounds, and then doesn't do it in the end, shows us what is real. Jesus' presence is real. Jesus' wounds are real. Jesus' peace is real. And Jesus leaves us with the real presence of the Spirit. Do not be afraid, we hear at the incarnation, and we hear in this room, do not be afraid, instead, be filled with the spirit. The spirit that teaches us about grace, and forgiveness, and love.

This Easter story, being written into each of our lives is the real story. With Thomas each of us gets to see, to feel, to touch, what is real, and what is real is the amazing love that God has for us, what is real is that this love brings us into relationship with God and with one another, a relationship we call the body of Christ. Sometimes we succumb to the lie that this life is about getting as much as we want, or doing as we please, without any thought on the effect that has on those around us, or even on the living, moving, breathing earth upon which we live. But that is not reality. Reality is that we are all connected. We are all related. Reality is that what I do, what you do, affects the web that surrounds us. That is what this story tells us, we are part of the community of faith, and the communion of saints. That is what Jesus is telling Thomas, the rest of the disciples, and us. 

And this is how resurrection matters. This is how what God does in Jesus matters. We do indeed encounter Jesus at every turn. You show forth the reality that Love wins. You show forth the reality that death does not have the final word. What you do matters to the world and to the kingdom. What you do, what we do has an effect on the world about us, what we do has an effect on the people around us. Like Thomas, we see, feel, touch the pain and suffering of Jesus in our midst. We see our brothers and sisters suffering as the result of natural disasters, tornados and snow storms. We witness the pain and suffering in our community as the result of poverty. We accompany our friends as they sit with family in hospital and in homes and await death and await healing. We are accompanied by friends who sit in vigil with us. We may be afraid, but instead of being immobilized by that fear, we proclaim by word and example that Jesus is in our midst and that Love wins, that new life is possible now. That's the story we write. That's the story that's true. 

Love wins. God brings wholeness and healing to all of creation, including Thomas, and you, and me. 
God re-members us. God puts us back together. God reconciles us. God restores us. Even when it looks like and feels like everything is falling apart, even when it looks like and feels like failure. Peace be with you is what Jesus says to those gathered in that room. Peace be with you, you are now reconciled, you have new life.

The Easter story we write is the story that says yes to God. Because, when we say yes to God, when we open ourselves to Jesus' living, giving action the cross, we enter into a way of life. God is the source, the strength, the example, and the assurance that the story of death and rebirth, new life, is the way into the only kind of life that actually sustains and inspires. Loose your life to find it. 

Let your life, let your Easter story show the world that Love wins. Each time you put your finger into the wound of another, be the agent of resurrection, be the bringer of hope, of new life. Each time you see the pain in the world, be the one who responds with mercy, compassion, and love. Each time you hear words of derision, words that bully and hurt, speak instead words of mercy, of compassion and of love. Each time you encounter fear, fear of death, fear of change, fear of the other, fear of not having enough, remember that Love wins over fear every time.