Better Times

  • Posted on Apr 25, 2009

Many are saying, “Oh, that we might see better times!”*Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O Lord. Psalm 4:6

The local news has been rough these days. Not only is our economic news unsettling, our local news in Baltimore and the surrounding region has been downright disturbing. Adding to the urban violence that has become all-too-commonplace, last week the front pages of the Baltimore Sun told the story of two murder-suicides of families by fathers. Today the front page story was about a pastor who murdered a disabled adult for insurance money. You have to wonder what the world is coming to these days. I join with the psalmist and say “Oh, that we might see better times!” I’d also add another psalm verse: “How long, O Lord?”

It is into these times that God’s resurrection hope beams once again this spring. Boy, do I need the resurrection this spring! As I look through the lectionary Gospel readings for the next few Sundays in Eastertide, the readings are classic portions of John’s Gospel. However, after this Sunday, we move away from the resurrection appearances to the images of Jesus as Good Shepherd, the vine, the exemplar of love. What I need right now are those great scenes of Jesus appearing to the disciples in the flesh. With all the news in our world today, I need to touch and be touched by Jesus.

That’s why I give thanks for the Eastertide activity that always takes place at Memorial in the spring. While most clergy and church staff feel as though summer should arrive just after Easter only to find at least 6 weeks of busy program yet to come, the time of blessings, baptisms, garden dedications and musical production at Memorial is just what I need. We need opportunities to come together in joyous thanks and celebration for the life that we have. Last night at Opening Night of the Sound of Music was a perfect example.

Last night the house was full. We saw Maria leave the convent and begin her time as governess of the Von Trapps. Yet, just as the thunderstorm brought all the children to Maria’s bed, a cry went up from the audience. “House Lights!” One of the cast members’ grandfather was ill. Immediately from the audience, a doctor, a medical student and an EMT ministered to this man. An ambulance was called. The man was transported to the hospital in good hands. But what happened in those moments while we waited and then after the medical crew left was a resurrection appearance. What happened was this…as we waited, we prayed. As the crew transported the man to the waiting ambulance, we sang Amazing Grace. Children in the cast (there are at least 30) came out to hug their parents. Then, the show went on. The Goatherd scene with all the children dressed and acting as puppets brought smiles to the crowd. Cheers ensued. All was well. An amazing moment in community.

Here’s what I felt in that moment of community….when hard things happen to us and those we love and know when we are in community, it feels different from reading about those events in a newspaper, television or the internet. In Memorial Church last night, the community held the love and fear, the joy and sorrow all together. We could hold hands and pray together as teenagers backstage worried about their friend and her grandfather. We could comfort the wife of the ill man at the door as she waited for the ambulance. We could sing the song we all know about overcoming adversity and hardship and pain. We could say God is there and touch one another in assurance that Christ is among us. We could sing and laugh again even in the midst of the fragility of human life. He is risen. It makes all the difference in the world. Alleluia!

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