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Archive for March, 2015

Rehearing Judas

On Palm Sunday, we heard the stories from that first Holy Week from the characters who were there (Peter, Mary the mother of Jesus, a bystander, a Pharisee). And folks are still talking about–the insight, the interest, the inspiration of these 1st person perspectives. Perhaps the one that has folks talking the most is the one that allowed us to rehear the story from Judas’ point of view:

“All I ever wanted was to be a good man … to serve God, to help other people. And he gave me my chance.

I’ve done more good in the past three years than I ever imagined. We all have. He’s helped us become good men and women.

And you know the greatest thing? He’s given us hope. When you have nothing and other people look down on you and you spend your whole time being ripped off by those more powerful and wealthier than you, you don’t know how incredible that feels. But, now … now, it’s so messed up. It’s all got out of hand. Even Jesus is worried. I’ve seen him at night brooding and praying.

There are people – even some who’ve been with us from the start – who want to proclaim him king. You should have seen them when we came into town, the way they were waving the palm branches, shouting, Hosanna to the King. People are treating him like a god. People are talking of revolution and of overthrowing the authorities. And that’s got to be wrong. Surely he’s just a man and not a king. And most definitely not God. That’s blasphemy.

I’ve heard them, you see – the leaders of the Temple and the Romans too. They’re not going to let this get out of hand.

Maybe you’re the kind of person who’ll throw away their life for a cause. But what if that cause has got out of hand?

You know what I think? We should have stayed away from Jerusalem this year.. I think he’s starting to believe what they’re saying of him. I’ve seen it in his eyes. There’s no way we’re going to get away with this.

Someone’s got to make this stop. Don’t judge me for what I have to do. All I’ve ever wanted was to be a good man. And what I’m going to do is for his sake. And my sake. And for the sake of everyone.”

I invite you to lean into the anxiety, clear away the schedule conflicts, and join us in Jerusalem at the Maundy Thursday service, where we’ll hear from seven characters including Peter, Pilate, the Zealot, a Soldier, a servant woman, James and Mary Magadalene. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to worship among the voices of the original witnesses.

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Outreach Chair, Ruth Owen, called to say weather is cancelling our mural painting today (we’ll try again next Saturday) but regardless of the weather, it’s been an eventful week in the life of the building. Snow may be falling but pay attention to all the green shoots around the building–by the back door in particular, tulips and daffodils are peaking out to greet this Holy Week.

And everyone is working hard to get things ready for those visitors who join us on Easter who we’re so glad to have among the body of Christ (however briefly). The trustees are working to repair the water damage from the leak by the back door and have shampooed the carpets on the main floor and polished the Fellowship Hall. Administrative Asst. Carol D said the building “sparkles.” A group came in to sanitize surfaces and rid the windows of fingerprints, the choirs (singers and ringers) plus their extra musicians have filled the halls with beautiful sounds, bulletin boards are being updated, Easter bulletins created (an in-house project this year to go with our Lenten theme) and Education Chair Laurie Conz and Tom McGowan got the mural started. There’s a pancake lunch tomorrow hosted by the youth to raise funds for Exequiel in Nicaragua.

It’s so great to see all the energy and passion of our members especially our children and all those trying to improve the building and the education wing  to meet their growing needs. The mural is just the beginning of a campaign that will help us invest in our future. And if that doesn’t warm your heart with signs of new life, I don’t know what will.

Shalom, Pastor Kelly
P.S. A reminder: the Pinch of Salt occasional devotional is moving–no longer an email format, it can now be found here on the ELUMC blog address https://kellypinchofsalt.wordpress.com/ Make sure you sign up to receive updates to get info in a timely way

It's never too early to start serving the Lord. Thanks to Reese and her grandmother Laurie for getting the mural off to a great start.

It’s never too early to start serving the Lord. Thanks to Reese and her grandmother Laurie for getting the mural off to a great start.

. And don’t forget to follow ELUMC on Facebook and Twitter.

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A prayer for today’s news from one of the best liturgical writers, Maren Tirabassi.

Her work highlights the inspiration, meaning and deep relevance of the scripture (in this case Psalm 139) to our current day. As the news comes at us fast and furiously, so too insight and prayer, spirit and a call to attention. These days, there’s lots of sources of inspiration which can be set to arrive regularly in our mailbox—I follow the words of David Whyte and artwork of Jan Richardson at the Painted Prayerbook religiously. Lots of folks use the “Unfolding Light” blog by Steve Garnaas-Holmes for their daily devotion. I keep up on the national UM happenings following the twitter feed of Becca Girrell. And for humor, the tweets of Paul Poundstone keep me giggling or going “hmmm.” You no doubt have your own favorites–let me know.

I’m moving away from group emails (too many address changes, too many spam challenges) and will now post the “Pinch of Salt” type offerings to this blog or to the ELUMC facebook page. Please make sure you get the latest information in a timely fashion by subscribing to the blog and “following” the church Facebook page.

Thanks to those who have responded to me over the years about the Pinch of Salt posts–who have noted your appreciation for them and who have let me know how they relate to your own experience. I’ve enjoyed and been sustained by the conversations started here. Feel free to post your comments publicly or email me directly.

So now to the prayer. Take a deep breathe. Light a candle if you can and pray this prayer poem with Maren and with me. She writes: “I used to think that this psalm was so very first personal singular, but it’s not. It is a psalm of how we are knit together.”

“I planned to reflect on psalm 139
because it is my birthday
and I am so aware
you formed my inward iowa parts
of minnesota norwegian
and tennesee hillbilly,
and you knew me in Liz,
the only child she brought to term.

I was woven of blond hair,
poor eyesight and the alcoholism,
a passion for swimming,
dogs and chocolate,
the one smaller lung,
the pollyanna thing that irritates
so many of my friends.

And in your book was written
how I would love books,
reading and writing
and hiding in them,
when others want me to party.

It is, after all the psalm I read aloud
when I bury someone
who dies by suicide,
(I tried that once, too, long ago)

because I know – love it or hate it –
there is just no place
your Spirit cannot find us.

But all of that doesn’t sing the psalm
the way I need
to hear its music today
for the opera singers and the students,
for the babies and the pilots –

that no one can ever take
the Germanwings of the morning
and fly beyond
your gentle gathering love
that walks the mountains in the bodies
of rescue workers,

for you make
of even this darkness, a light,
and count these your fallen children,
every one of them,
come to this sad end
saying – I am still with you.”

Shalom, Pastor Kelly

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