Easter Sunday- Fr. Chris- April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday

April 16, 2017

Maui SunriseSuddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

It was Friday afternoon at the end of a long week. I walked down the hall of the continued care facility in the Washington DC area where I was serving as a chaplain. My thoughts were with the weekend as I turned towards the stairs to leave. Then I saw her eyes. They were eyes that cried out for contact, for human interaction, for community. A part of me was tempted to just nod, smile, and keep walking… after all I was off the clock. Yet, the desire to respond to those pleading eyes overcame my desire to leave. As I entered her room, I introduced myself and asked if she would like to talk. She replied. Only, I could not understand a word she said. Suddenly it dawned on me that I had just engaged in conversation a woman whose current medical condition had rendered her unable to speak. Those same eyes that cried out for contact began to fill with tears of pain as she was once more isolated by her condition; her curse to understand all that was around her yet unable to reciprocate in conversation. I assured her that there was no need to talk and that we could just sit and be together. We proceeded to sit there for several minutes saying nothing, just content to sit in each other’s presence. A peace settled over the room. After a while, I stood up to leave and thanked her for this time we shared together. I asked if she would like another chaplain to come sit with her the next day. And then in a clear voice as if her medical condition did not exist, she replied, “I hope. I hope.” Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; go and tell the others to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The worst night of sleep I’ve ever had was in Maui. I was not there for the typical touristy fanfare. As a leader on a Boy Scout trip, instead of a drink with a paper umbrella in it, I had a Nalgene water bottle. We had traveled to backpack the volcano Haleakala (translated to English means “house of the sun”). What most don’t realize is how incredibly tall this inactive volcano is. Let me rephrase that, I did not realize how incredibly tall Haleakala was. It goes from sea-level (in other words zero-foot elevation) all the way up to just over 10,000-feet. This is significant because even at around 7500 feet, which is around where our campsite was located, the temperature drops by about 25 degrees or more. As I tossed and turned on this worst night of sleep, I thought back to packing for this trip, when I had tossed clothing into my pack while images of beautiful beaches and warm sand had been foremost in my thoughts. As the sun set on Haleakala, the temperature dropped to 38 degrees that night. Needless to say, I was cold… Indeed, it was the worst night of sleep ever, well, that is if one calls shivering in a tent on the side of a volcano “sleeping.” So much for the Scout Motto: “Be Prepared.” But that next morning, I was up first and began preparing breakfast. The view from our campsite was toward the south east… and then it happened. As the sun began to rise over the ocean horizon I saw the beauty of the Hawaiian countryside bathed in the morning light. I saw the shimmering ocean and the splendor of it all was overwhelming. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; go and tell the others to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Per Jeane Esther Barbour’s obituary published last month in Syracuse, NY, Mrs. Barbour was beloved by her family, friends, and neighbors. In fact, their nickname for her was “Little Dynamo.”[i] Apparently, she had paid her own way through Syracuse University during World War II by working in a factory inspecting machine guns. She was very active in her church and had an eclectic set of hobbies. But none of that is what set Jeane Esther Barbour’s obituary apart from others… what has made her obituary shared far and wide are the last lines which read, “In lieu of flowers, please be kind to someone. Call a friend or relative you haven’t reached out to recently. Forgive someone. All acts of kindness are appreciated.”[ii] Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; go and tell the others to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

We stand once more at the opening of an empty tomb and are filled with wonder and amazement. Each week we affirm in some form or fashion this paschal mystery of our faith: “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” Yes, it is by coming together for this Easter celebration to hear the story that is the cornerstone of our faith and by joining with the women as we peer into Christ’s empty tomb that we ourselves can stand in our lives, even at the grave, and make our song “alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.” Indeed, we are an Easter people that are called to live our lives not in the darkness of death, but rather in the light of resurrection. Yet, the story does not end with Jesus’ empty tomb. Our story does not end with the empty tomb. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; go and tell the others to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

We do not encounter the risen Lord only one time a year or in this place on Sundays. Instead we are called to go to the Galilees of our lives and see the risen Christ in the world around us… Yes, we are called to go to the Galilees of our lives and see the risen Christ in the world around us. In the moments that we see hope in what appears to be a despondent situation… In the moments in which the beauty of creation sings out when the coldness of the world has been pressing in… In the moments of experiencing the love of Christ reflected unto us by the body of Christ, that is his people… In these moments and so many more, we see the risen Christ and we share the risen Christ with others.

Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; go and tell the others to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Good people of St. Paul’s, we experience the risen Christ on this Easter morning and we cling to his feet and worship him… And then we see the risen Lord in the Galilee found in the grocery store and on the soccer field. We see the risen Lord in the Galilee found in the hospitals and in rush hour traffic. We see the risen Lord in the man begging on the street corner and in our friends and family. Indeed we are called to go to the Galilees of our lives and see the risen Christ in the world around us. And then we share the good news of the resurrection, we live the good news of the resurrection for we are an Easter people and we make our song “alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”

[i] www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/acts-of-kindness-obituary/ (no publish date found; visited on 4/10/2017)

[ii] http://obits.syracuse.com/obituaries/syracuse/obituary.aspx?n=jeanne-esther-barbour&pid=184430613&fhid=22216 (published in the Syracuse Post 3/10-12/2017; visited on 4/10/2017)

Service Schedule

Sunday Services
8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite I
9:15 a.m. Christian Formation
10:30 a.m. Holy Eucharist, Rite II

Weekday Services
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. Holy Eucharist

Address

St. Paul's Episcopal Church
5373 Franz Rd
Katy, Texas 77493
(281) 391-2785
Website:http://www.stpaulskaty.org
Email:info@stpaulskaty.org

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