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This Side of Easter – Br. Jim Woodrum

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Read by Br. Jim WoodrumJohn 6:60-71

It’s the Eve of the 4th Sunday of Easter, and we’re still basking in the glow of Easter Day.  At my table at supper last night we were discussing how Texas has already reached temperatures of 95 degrees, and in Mississippi the tulips and dogwood flowers are but a faded memory.  But here in New England the flowers are just now popping up and the new foliage has that bright minty green hew.  This year’s winter has been hard, but praise God, the signs of resurrection are now all around.  How interesting then it is to hear today’s gospel on this side of Easter.

Those who had been following Jesus had a different idea of what Easter was supposed to look like.  They could buy into Jesus’ message of freedom and redemption, but they were hoping for freedom from the iron grip of Rome.  When they realized that Jesus was speaking about freedom of a spiritual nature, they left and returned to their homes.  How disheartened Jesus must have felt as he turned to his chosen inner circle and asked, “Are you going to leave me also?”

IMAG1721But if we’re honest, I think most of us can identify with the crowd’s confusion and disappointment.  In our society and culture today we have been programmed to believe that Easter is somewhere out there.  If we work hard enough, act the right way, have the right clothes, surround ourselves with the right friends, and are willing to spend a certain amount of money, then we too can have our own slice of Easter, made to order.  How many times have we all bought into this lie of self-fulfillment only to have our hopes nailed to a cross?  In my own pilgrimage, I have felt Jesus hand on my shoulder many times and heard him say, “Please don’t leave me, your Easter is here!”

That is the good news.  If we know Jesus, then we already have Easter….and it is more than what we could ever find in the world.  The Psalmist writes, “Lord, I love the house in which you dwell and the place where your glory abides.” (1) That place of glory is not a place to search for but is in fact here in this chapel in the tabernacle which an icon of the human heart…..your heart.  What you’re searching for, you already know.  God has blessed us with this amazing life, with eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind discern, and a heart in which to perceive the living presence of God in our midst.

You may be at a place in your life where you are basking in the glow of Easter and have fully come to know God’s blessing.  But if you’re still searching, then pause and take a moment to make Peter’s prayer your own:  “Lord, to whom can we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  Christ is risen, the Lord is risen indeed!  Your Easter is here.  Alleluia!

  1.  Psalm 26:8
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8 Comments

  1. Louanna Furbee on April 20, 2017 at 11:56

    Thanks you for your kind and thoughtful accompaniment this just past Lent and for your general mission to the world.

  2. Glenna Bailey on April 20, 2017 at 08:45

    Thank you, dear Brothers of the Order of SSJE. Your Lenten offerings were such a blessing to all of us who are struggling to keep our heads above the fray of the technological and political onslaughts as the 21st century speeds ahead. Of all the choices bombarding us we have one simple choice to make and that is deciding what we mean by “winners” and “losers”, “weakness” and “power.”
    As we approached Easter Sunday we heard and sang the lovely 18th century Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts” many times. Brother Jim’s message today reminded us that “Easter is here”.
    The life of Jesus has shown us, from the culture of 1st century Palestine, examples of the world’s greatest exertion of imperial power and how the willing sacrifice of the weakest played into this time in which we live.
    The simple choice : Is Jesus of Nazareth a winner or a loser?
    When we are baptized we are “marked as Christ’s own forever.”
    May God “grant us wisdom, grant us courage for the facing of this hour.”

    In deepest gratitude to SSJE for your love and prayers.

  3. Linda Posthuma on April 9, 2016 at 20:47

    Hello brothers,
    I want to thank you for the thoughtful and thought provoking Lenten journey you offered – creating a rule of life.
    I am now receiving your daily reflections and find them helpful and inspiring.
    Thank you for all.
    Linda

  4. a city monk on April 9, 2016 at 12:22

    It is Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, who is bringing a ‘newness’ to Easter this year. I’ve welcomed Mary and John into the Hermitage of my Heart… the tranquility of their Easter upper room is different! They hold the bright freshness of Easter Joy, praying in the welcoming of the Holy Spirit on the still doubting and fearful. I’ve not ever pondered the Easter Season awe that they hold with the Grace of Son rising mornings. A gentleness! a fearlessness! a tranquility of Spirit! a work of ‘readying’ my heart for the Coming of the Holy Spirit. How lovely is your dwelling place oh Lord…
    It is Jesus Christ who ‘pushes’ attention toward Pentecost. His own Ascension is going to shake up false expectations I project on the Resurrection community. Prepare for Pentecost! it is as if Lent was merely the course turning of the soil, now it is ADDing amendments to improve the fertility of a heart waiting…patience, loss of control, living in the present, compassion, gratitude, humility and trust in God. Veni Sanite Spiritus… Mary and John, teach my heart your prayers of waiting.

  5. Robert Shotton on April 9, 2016 at 05:43

    Many thanks Br.Jim Woodrum, although, here in New Zealand, we are now coming to the end of our warm weather we can still celebrate the Good News of the Resurrection; It is a message which is relevant throughout all seasons and, I feel, is the basis of our faith.
    May God bless you all. Robert.

  6. Margo on May 12, 2014 at 10:46

    Thank you Br. Jim but it is not the lie of self fulfillment that masks my sight I suspect, but the lie of too much collusion and exclusion that says my prayer is beautiful, I can read and write and count. I live with like minded good hearted people, my material life is secure and all these things are deeply bound to a system of privilege I take for granted and never challenge saying I can do nothing about. The resurrection I would like to see and be part of (I am not) is living more simply that others might simply live. Margo

    • Christina on April 9, 2016 at 09:51

      Beautiful final sentence. C

      • Margo on April 11, 2016 at 08:48

        If you are commenting on my final sentence:”to live more simply that others might simply live” I heard it in the Anglican church in UK early 1970s. It was a dream then and still is. The thing that haunts me is the USA is about 4.7% of world’s population and we use about 20-22% of world’s resources. I do not know of nay other name for that than greed and the church, especially my beloved Episcopal tradition is right there in the front line of blind consumption.

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