April 09, 2018
By Maxwell Grant.
Rev. Max Grant is the senior pastor at Second Congregational Church of Greenwich.
Scripture: Luke 24:38 (NRSV)
"Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?”
In the days after his resurrection, Jesus asks his disciples what they’re afraid of, and why they still doubt after the miracle that they have witnessed.
Surely, Easter is the proof that everything is different now. What more proof could anyone need?
He’s right, of course. (He is Jesus, after all.)
And yet, the fact of the matter is, most of us are only sort of different after Easter. And on the surface, the world and its ways are no different at all. Why should they be? Caesar believes he’s won.
Really, with things being so seemingly the same as always, it’s a miracle that our pessimism and despair have been transformed into hope at all. Let’s not dismiss that. We may not have directly witnessed the tragedy of Holy Week, but we have losses of our own to grieve, and reasons to doubt the notion that all things are just bound to work out somehow.
All these years later, we are still living in times that seem defined by fear and fragility, when Pilate’s question from Holy Thursday, “What is truth?” seems to echo over every mountain and hill.
So why are we frightened, and why do doubts arise in our hearts? O Lord, where do we begin? Because we have eyes. Hearts. Consciences. Souls — that’s why. Because Lord, you taught us to see and feel and know and to love our neighbors as ourselves, and it seems like that makes it hurt even more.
Easter doesn’t really change that. Not right away, anyway.
But it teaches us that there is much more at work than what we see. It reminds us that even if we’re only sort of different, or still sort of new to the concept of hope over despair, nevertheless, there is movement afoot. The power of God’s love is abiding, but always transforming — or is it transforming, but always abiding?
Maybe we can’t quite say. But for all our fears, we know that love still speaks to us, and brings life in the very shadow of death. And that’s a start.
Lord, be with us even in our fears and our doubts, that they might be ways of loving your world and opening our eyes to your transforming presence. Amen.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayers of Intercession:
- for those grieving or suffering after a bus carrying a Canadian hockey team crash on April 6 leaving 14 dead and as many injured.
- those suffering after a bus carrying high schoolers returning from a Europe trip struck an overpass in New York state, injuring 40 on April 8.
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- for those churches and individuals who help immigrants facing deportation work to stay in a country where they can be productive individuals and remain safe with their families.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
First Congregational of Lebanon, UCC
Ledyard Congregational Church, UCC
Newent Congregational UCC
Milton Congregational UCC
The First Congregational Church of Litchfield, UCC
This Week in History:
April 12, 1861 (157 years ago) Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, officially beginning the U.S. Civil War. The 4 years conflict resulted in over 650,000 deaths and is still the deadliest war in U.S. history.
Starting With Scripture:
April 09, 2018