Saturday, April 04, 2020

Street scenes

Matthew 21:7-9

They brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and [Jesus] sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’

Street scenes

There have been few more moving images in recent days than the cheers that accompany doctors, nurses and medical staff as they go into battle against the coronavirus. Images from Italy and Spain were among the first we witnessed. People leaned out windows along cobblestone streets shouting encouragement, and singing songs of pride and blessing.

They showered praise on those who do dangerous and exhausting work, day-after-day. Many are the stories of those who faithfully carry out this mission despite fears that they, like colleagues, may get sick or die.

These scenes of gratitude are heart-warming, but such thanks is not nearly enough. We must do everything we can to stop the spread of this plague through social distancing and using masks in public spaces like the grocery or pharmacy, etc.

These images from our streets also remind us of the Palm Sunday procession of Jesus on his donkey. “Hosanna,” people shouted at him, which means save us.

He came to Jerusalem to serve God’s kingdom by handing himself over to brutality and crucifixion. He did so to reveal the fullness of the heart of God and to establish a new community—a kingdom where love is the air we breathe and sacrificial service is our highest value and greatest aspiration.

Look at him as he rides toward his fate, as he forgives even from his cross, as he refuses to curse those who curse him. Just look.

To understand why, during these perilous times, we cheer those who serve at the risk of their lives, it has everything to do with Jesus on his donkey. His imprint on our civilization and our souls is unmistakable.

Praise him and give thanks for what is in his heart. Give thanks that this love is in your heart, too—and especially that this grace is in the hearts of those who battle for life, every day.

Pr. David L. Miller

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Listen to the living

And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.’ (Matthew 22:31-32)

Listen to the living

At the Lord’s Table, I am often aware of a great crowd of people standing back of me, as I bless the bread and raise the cup. They watch and smile their approval, although no one can see them.

I feel their presence, and they lift me into the joy of knowing I belong to them and to the Love who joins us, even as I know that someday I will join them.

For they are every soul who has known and loved this Lord we receive into ourselves at that holy table.

Old friends are there, family members I have loved and laid to rest in the soil of this earth. My father is there, and I feel Grandma Miller; Bob and Fritz, and every soul who has ever blessed me.

As the years go by, that crowd gets larger, including faces I have served and loved at St. Timothy, people you know and love, too.

They are physically gone from us, yet they are so alive in our hearts and in this great cloud of witnesses that cheers us on, especially now.

Many of them faced greater crises and fears than those that haunt us during this time. And to a person they all say, “Keep on. Keep on. This time will pass. But Love who holds you never will.”

Listen to them. They know.

Pr. David L. Miller