This prayer has been on my heart since Easter Sunday:
O God for whom there are no barriers,
no stones too big to remove,
roll away our resistance to you.
Let your words fill us with new life
and bring us out from the tomb of indifference, alive in you.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
(UCC, Celebrate God’s Presence, p. 197)
Let your words fill us with new life...
At my final outreach service at Les Floralies, LaSalle this week some 30 people attended worship and shared with me words of appreciation for some ten years of monthly ministry in this residence. The SouthWest pastoral team members were given flowers and I received a card, gift and a homemade Celebration Cake! Beryl Barraclough, the Designated Lay Minister who will begin her ministry July 1st at SouthWest was also there so people would know there is continuity. We sang this hymn:
Sing them over again to me,
wonderful words of life,
Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life.
(P. Bliss, 1874)
In John’s Gospel (6: 25-71) Jesus talks about his death and how the disciples would have to ‘feed on his flesh’. Many did not hear the allusion to his death and resurrection and found his teaching too hard. They turned back and no longer followed him. The words I have spoken to you are full of the Spirit and Life, Jesus says to those remaining. In other words: are you going or staying?
Peter responds: Where would we go? You have the words of eternal life!
In the midst of significant transitions it is hard to hear words of life. In the endings it is difficult to hear of new beginnings. When there is loss and grief, can we hear hope or in the darkest night, see the light?
Faith believes that the One we follow has the words of eternal life. That Jesus has gone before us through the depths of the grave and darkness of the tomb. He knew God’s silence on the cross as he hung naked and alone.
There too, few disciples remained to keep vigil.
I am only keeping my head above the waters these last days of May as I prepare for the emotion-filled goodbye to SouthWest after 20 years. At every turn there are memories of two decades of ministry and relationships. I believe that God is in our midst guiding and cajoling us: reminding us of that strong faith of our ancestors that gets on with doing what must be done in the midst of change and challenges.
I believe that there is life in the words of Jesus and a living relationship with him that gives us the courage of goodbyes. I believe that love knows no boundaries or distance and is not limited to biology. It is the ultimate word of life.
So join me in the prayer:
Let your words fill us with new life!