We make mistakes, do things we regret and regret not doing other things. The good news of the Gospel is not only that Jesus died that we might be forgiven, but that he has been raised from the dead! In him, we too are raised from being dead, so that we can have new life, full of hope and promise.
Sometimes our plans get disrupted. Or we get something we would have never expected. We make mistakes and fall short; we get caught up in “deadly” routines and behaviors - that prevent us from living fully. One great surprise has changed the course of all our lives and enables us to move from self-made plans and expectations into the life God has created. We celebrate that reversal today.
Two women go to the tomb, a place for the dead. A guard of soldiers has been standing watch to make sure none of his disciples could steal his body and claim he was resurrected. These soldiers, policing the tomb, were to make sure Jesus “stayed dead.” No human power could stop God from overcoming death. An angel announces the news and a reversal of positions. The soldiers are so afraid that they become “like dead men.” Jesus lives, and those who would have him dead become deathly afraid.
The angel tells the women, “Do not be afraid.” This is actually good news for them. Despite their fear, their joy about Jesus’ resurrection moves them to run and tell the other disciples the good news. When they encounter Jesus, he says “Do not be afraid, go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Fear no longer needs to control us, even if learning to live fearlessly doesn’t come naturally.
The Ephesians text reminds us we are deeply loved by God--loved so much that we are saved through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the power of God--that even when we were dead in our trespasses- or the places that we sin, Jesus Christ raises us to new life. Our sin does not define who we are, or who we will be. Instead, we are forgiven and raised to life. We are called to more.
As we encounter the living Jesus, we can move forward, even if we are afraid. We do this not on our own strength but through the resurrection power that comes through Jesus Christ. As living testimonies to God’s redemptive work in Christ, we cannot keep this good news to ourselves. We are called to go out and tell the world that Jesus is risen and that this is good news for all.
From the United Methodist of greater New Jersey website
Lisa Beretz, LLBeretz@gmail.com
God give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed;
Courage to change the things that should be changed;
And the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
When thinking about serenity, many people think of the famous prayer written by Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. Frequently invoked by members of twelve-step programs, it is popularly known as “The Serenity Prayer.”
I believe, however, that the time has come for us to stop associating serenity with things that cannot be changed. For we can dramatically change the quality of our lives when we consciously seek to restore serenity to our daily endeavors.
How exactly can this be accomplished in our lifetime? When women stop behaving as if they were whirling dervishes.
If you frequently feel as if you’re about to spin off this planet, it’s probably because you are. I know of a woman who will begin to brush her teeth only to leave the bathroom to start making her bed while she is still foaming at the mouth. And why? Because out of the corner of her eye she saw the rumpled sheets. Before she could rinse her mouth, she had flung herself into the next task. Needless to say, a day that starts off this frenzied can only go from bad to worse.
This is not how the cool and regal Grace Kelly, beloved as Her Serene Highness the Princess of Monaco, spent her days. Nor is it how we should spend ours. And while I’m sure Princess Grace had somebody else making her bed, the point is still valid. Serene women do not become sidetracked. Sidetracked women, who scatter their energies to the four winds, never achieve serenity. (Nervous breakdowns, to be sure, but not serenity.) It’s as simple as that.
Today, we must start to recover our sanity. The way we do this is to concentrate slowly on completing one task at a time, each hour of the day, until the day is over. Like the members of twelve-step programs, we will act “as if” we are serene (think Grace Kelly), by bringing all our attention and conscious awareness to whatever we are doing---from brushing our teeth to putting the children to bed. What we will gain from this exercise is the inner peace that comes from living fully in the present moment.
I realize, of course, that for most of us, accustomed as we are to performing six tricks simultaneously, what I’m proposing sounds ridiculous. You wonder how you’ll get everything done if you don’t do everything at once. But I assure you that you will accomplish all you set out to do and need to do with much more ease, efficiency, pleasure, and satisfaction when you merge mind, body, and spirit with the task at hand.
And you will experience serenity.
Borrowed from “Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” by Sarah Ban Breathnach.
It is the authors hope that this daily lesson will invite us to open up the eyes of our inner awareness as it exists today for a simply abundant tomorrow. I know I need to work on this particular lesson myself and hope it is meaningful to you as well.
Lisa Beretz, LLBeretz@gmail.com