Posts Tagged different

A Different Easter to Celebrate During Coronavirus War –

It was a different Easter.

Gone were the new outfits. Gone were the in-person Easter egg hunts. Gone were the gatherings together for worship.

Our Sunday School class met by conference call. We watched the worship service on computers, iPhones and iPads. We were together but separate.

Gone were the big Easter family dinners. One friend and I – that was it. My sister in North Carolina laments it was the smallest Easter dinner she had ever cooked, but we were good soldiers in the coronavirus war.

We talked on our telephones, as has become our custom. We accounted for every family member – so far so good. We talked about the sunrise services of our youth when our dad was in charge of the arrangements.

Michael, my son, called to tell me about the new version of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” now showing on NBC.

I thought back to when I accompanied him and his young friend to see the road show version and how I worried about whether or not I was doing the right thing to take them.

My doubts lifted a few days later when I overheard Michael and the same friend discussing in serious tones whether or not Judas had a choice. And to my utter astonishment, discussing whether or not Judas could be saved.

Fourteen-year-old boys trying to solve a mystery that religious scholars have struggled with for two centuries. Yes, I was right to take them to see the show.

I settled in to watch the television version, trying to compare it to the original. It is a beautiful/horrible story or a horrible/beautiful story depending on your point of view.

I was forced to realize the problems of the last week are nothing in comparison to the last week Jesus endured before His crucifixion. Here it was again unfolding on the screen in front of me.

The hundreds of times I have heard the story, read the story, seen the story and told the story do not matter. Time does not soften its impact.

It grabs you and does not turn you lose even though you know the ending, even though you have experienced the ending. You are horrified all over again.

What a story! What an ending! What a new beginning!

Easter is beautiful where I live. The flowers and trees are dressed in such splendor that no store-bought outfit could even come close to competing.

Spring is here. New life is here. Coronavirus or no, a new day is dawning. Easter brings us new hope for all the days ahead.

The telephone rings. A friend is bringing me an Easter basket and a freshly made quiche. I meet her at her car and maintain six feet of distance between us.

She is a devout Christian out spreading joy wherever she can. I’m moved by her thoughtfulness.

It’s late, but it’s Easter. It’s time for me to call my daughter in Tennessee. They are in a different time zone.

“Hello, honey. Happy Easter.”

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Sitting in someone else’s chair – Brett Younger –


Most of the people in my congregation sit in the same area of the sanctuary most Sundays. A few have been sitting in the exact same pew for 20 years. I know where to look for certain people. I have figured out which faces are good to look at while preaching – engaged, thoughtful and interested faces. I have figured out which faces not to look at while preaching – confused, concerned and disinterested faces.

Most of us like sitting in the same spot. How do we react when we come to the kitchen table and someone is in our place? What happens when we walk into the office and someone is sitting in our chair?

The way we respond says something about us. Some choose not to make it a big deal. We sit in another place and try not to think about it, but we feel strange sitting in someone else’s chair.

Others respond more assertively: “You’re in my chair. You need to move.”

“The willingness to sit where another sits is the beginning of love.”

There must be a third category of people who are not only willing, but eager to sit in a different place and see from a different perspective; but this third group has to be the smallest.

We do not want to sit where others sit, because we like believing that our perspective is the best perspective. This is how we divide the world into us and them.

Doesn’t it feel awkward to walk into a party where everyone is something you are not – different politics, different race, different religion or much younger than you are? Or you are wearing a sweatshirt and everyone else is dressed up? Do you almost unconsciously start looking for someone who looks like you?

If one day you said, “I think I met someone today who’s going to be a good friend,” would the people who know you best be able to guess how old your prospective friend is? Just by hearing that you made a new friend could they estimate how much money the new friend makes, how much education they have or where they live?

Some rich people talk about the poor in a way that makes it obvious that they have never thought about what it is like not to have a home. Some white people talk about people of color in a way that makes it clear that they have never imagined how it feels to be a victim of prejudice. Some straight people talk about gay people in a way that leaves no doubt that they have never considered what it is like to be gay.

Counselors often encourage married couples to argue from the other side. Sometimes they make them switch chairs to help them see from the other’s perspective. Don’t you enjoy it when judges sentence slum lords to spend a month living in their own apartment buildings?

If our parents had a different kind of faith that had led them to a different sanctuary, we would probably have different ideas about faith.

“We need to stop looking for people who are like us and start listening to people who are not.”

If we could trade places for just a day imagine what we would discover – students and teachers, 70 year olds and seven year olds, married and single, natives and immigrants, church people and those who would rather be anything else, and those who have been abused and those who have abused.

When your sister says that she is getting a divorce you learn not to make sweeping judgments. When your best friend gets laid off, you stop seeing the unemployed as a statistic. When your father admits that he is an alcoholic, you stop thinking alcoholics are weak.

We need to stop looking for people who are like us and start listening to people who are not. Sometimes when we listen to a person who is making life miserable for the people around her, we learn that her life at home is more horrible than anything we have had to deal with.

What happens when we sit in someone else’s chair and ask what it is like to be them? What is it like to be your child? What is it like to be your parent? What is it like to be your minister?

What is it like to be 14? What is it like to be 84? What is it like to be a widow whose husband of 50 years just died?

What is it like to be 100 percent certain that Donald Trump should be president? What is it like to be 100 percent certain that Elizabeth Warren should be president?

What is it like to be Jewish? What is it like to be a Syrian refugee? What is it like to be Mexican immigrant?

What is it like to be your neighbor? What is it like to be your enemy?

The willingness to sit where another sits is the beginning of love.



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Pope Francis: Christian Unity – No Competing for Souls

Rome, Jan 25: Pope Francis has laid out his formula for fostering Christian unity: resist competing for souls and make concrete gestures of acceptance and dialogue. Francis celebrated vespers today evening in a Rome basilica along with Anglican, Orthodox and other church leaders to cap an annual week of prayer for unity of Christians. He told the church leaders that “our shared commitment to proclaiming the Gospel enables us to overcome proselytism and competition in all their forms.”

Francis said getting to know “those who are different from ourselves can make us grow.” He also cautioned about “subtle theoretical discussions in which each side tries to convince the other.” Referring to Christians being persecuted in the Middle East and elsewhere, Francis described their suffering as a kind of “ecumenism of blood.”


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