Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The richness of relationships

Palm Sunday is one of my favorite days of the church year. I am inspired to think that Jesus would actually enter Jerusalem on a colt—a demonstration of peace. As I said in the sermon I delivered on Sunday, Jesus could have bombarded the sky with such an intense display of lightning and thunder that the entire town of Jerusalem bowed at his feet. Instead Jesus entered Jerusalem by giving up power in order to display a different kind of power.

At Chain of Lakes Church we started our tradition of the Palm Sunday processional. We gathered in our fellowship hall and marched outside behind a banner that the kids of Chain of Lakes made. The children led the march. At certain parts of the march we waved palms and shouted, “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna.” The march was inspiring—partially because our attendance was so high and the line extended a long ways.

In the sermon I responded to all the questions people had submitted about Holy Week. Our video team had gone out to a shopping center in Blaine a week ago and took footage of asking people their questions about Holy Week. The sermon and video can be seen at: http://www.blip.tv/file/5033482.

When I came home from worship, my family quickly changed clothes and drove to Rochester to celebrate the retirement of Father Joe Keefe. Father Joe is the priest at Pax Christi Catholic Church in Rochester. He recently was diagnosed with A.L.S. and will be going on disability next month. My wife, Amy, was the administrator of Pax Christi for many of the eight years that Father Joe served at Pax Christi. She couldn’t miss this event.

We had a marvelous time at the event seeing and re-connecting with people we haven’t seen for a while. We were touched by the messages that many of the speakers shared about Father Joe. I even saw a family who participated at the Presbyterian Church in Plainview.

After talking to people for ninety minutes we got in line to shake hands with Father Joe. It was a poignant moment. I had listened to this man preach and share the Eucharist for almost ten years. He has a remarkable outlook on his illness and on his remaining time here on earth.

Relationships in the church have an immense richness. They are beginning, changing, and ending. As I was saying good bye and congratulating Father Joe, I was inviting another family to visit us in Blaine. Departure and deepening—all taking place in a fellowship hall at one faith community.

I love life in the church. I am the pastor of one church and participate in another church. I value the different types of relationships in both—and treasure the people that God has brought into my life. I can’t imagine living without a faith community.

All of this happened because a man got on a colt and rode it into Jerusalem.

If you haven’t been connected to a faith community, Easter Sunday is an excellent day to “dip your toe in again.” I’m biased about Chain of Lakes Church and encourage people to check us out this Easter Sunday. We’ll start worship at 10:30 a.m. with a breakfast beginning at 9:30. We have a wonderful Easter service planned. More details can be found at colpres.org. But many other wonderful churches exist. We are all waiting to welcome people back with open arms. Perhaps Easter Sunday is a day that many people can discover the richness of relationships with people in a faith community.

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