Posts by Lori Leopold (Page 2)
I think the notion of walking in the truth…the truth of who we are and whose we are…is probably a fairly appealing notion to most of us. Our spirits, I believe, inherently yearn for this type of authenticity. But day to day reality has taught many of us that this is probably easier said than done. There are all kinds of things and forces and entities that tempt us to step outside of our truth, sometimes unnecessarily puffing ourselves up…sometimes tamping down the essence of who we are.
Being “born again” is language that most of us are probably familiar with but many of us may not have adopted or used. What was Jesus talking about in being born again? How might that be meaningful for our lives as Christians who continue to seek to follow in Jesus’ way and live lives of faith, love and service in the world?
On Sunday, we’ll spend time with the second account of the ascension from Acts, reflecting on that head scratcher of a question asked by the “two guys in white” who appear after Jesus is taken up: “Why do you stand looking up to heaven?”
In our reading for this Sunday, Jesus continues with that language and presses this point, the life-giving connection between him and his disciples, as he prepares them for his upcoming departure. It’s as if he’s saying, “Even though I won’t be here in person, our connection is real and will be more profound and necessary than ever.” And then, as one often does when giving last minute instructions, he circles back to something important and something he’s said before, “Love one another as I have loved you.”
On Sunday, we’ll ponder the words of this rather remarkable individual, Philip the evangelist, an outsider on many levels, who asked, perhaps hesitantly or perhaps boldly, “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” It’s a great question. What indeed? We’ll explore ways in which worldly forces, external and internal, might try to put up barriers for those who seek to enter fully into life with Christ, all the while mindful that the divine response to such questions is generally quite different and always grounded in radical grace.
Jesus is the good shepherd. What does it mean for us to be sheep? What does it mean to have a shepherd? This week we’ll spend some time in the shelter of Psalm 23…remembering all those who have gone before us who have known and cherished this psalm and reflecting on the ways we know and are known by the ultimate shepherd, Jesus.
Into the midst of this angst and struggle, Jesus comes to the disciples with a word of greeting, “Peace be with you.” He then emphasizes the fact that he’s there in the flesh. Jesus invites them to touch him…something they couldn’t do if he was a ghost! And then he does something equally delightful…he asks for a snack. They get him a little leftover fish and find themselves “joyful, disbelieving and still wondering.” Isn’t that a great description? How often are we, just like those early disciples, a mix of joy and disbelief and wonder?
Despite anything and everything that has come before, despite hardship and struggle, despite pain and suffering, despite plagues and pandemics, despite any and all circumstances that have felt as if they were too much to bear, morning comes…day breaks…Easter arrives. And we are reminded, once again, that God’s goodness, God’s love, God’s life-giving, life-restoring, life-saving force has been at work, is at work and will continue to be at work until God’s kingdom comes in its fullness. Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
On Sunday we enter into Holy Week with what’s often called Palm/Passion Sunday. Holy Week, in its entirety, begins on Palm Sunday as we remember Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper and the giving of a new commandment. The word “maundy” comes from the Latin word for “mandate” and Jesus gives a new mandate to “love one another as I have loved you.” On Good Friday we traverse the desolation and despair of the crucifixion and on Easter morning we celebrate the risen Christ!
Our supplementary Lenten series for 2021 presents a broad range of spiritual practices. We often think of spiritual practices as general “prayer and meditation,” but the Christian tradition gives us many other tools to connect with God. You are invited to watch the video, try the spiritual practice out for yourself, and join in a discussion group around each one.