Happening Now Blog

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Wednesday Message

The grave is empty! Hallelujah! Our Easter celebration on Sunday was filled with joy and celebration. The breakfast was excellent. We heard again the story of the discovery of an empty tomb, the words of the divine messengers and the shock and disbelief of the first apostles, the story we are sent out to live in the world.

One of my favorite Easter stories from the Bible is the text for a service on Sunday evening, one in which we rarely have opportunity to participate. That story is of the appearance of Jesus on the Emmaus Road.

Two of the disciples are walking toward the village of Emmaus on Sunday afternoon, talking about their loss. In addition to the confusion and grief of the death of Jesus they have heard the reports of the tomb being empty. They don't know what happened to the body of their teacher.

A stranger joins them along the way and asks them about their conversation. They unload all their pain and frustration and he shakes their head. This stranger is obviously familiar with scripture and helps them understand the message of the gospel. They are comforted and, at the end of the walk, tired. They invite the stranger to stay at the inn with them, and while eating supper they realize that their guest is Jesus!

How often have I been tired, frustrated, grieving angry or empty? How often have I headed down my personal path, walking in the darkness of my own feelings and not willing or able to look around myself and see the world? How often have I been attended to, listened to by a stranger who turns out to bring the living presence of God into my vision?

Once in a while I get to be that stranger. While waiting for a friend to join me in a coffee shop in Minneapolis (a friend who is very busy and involved with many things and people and so is chronically late for casual appointments) a young woman from a nearby college came up to me and asked me if I would be willing to participate in a neighborhood survey which was part of her sociology class project. "I am willing," I said, "but perhaps not helpful. I don't live in this neighborhood." She was disappointed and went back toward the coffee shop entrance to await a qualified interviewee.

About 15 minutes later she came back to my table. "Where are you from?" she asked, and we began to talk. I told her who I was, what I did for my living and then she told me of her life.

She was the daughter of a small town pastor in western North Dakota. While she and her siblings never felt wealthy, they always had enough and some to spare. As part of her college experience she spent a month in a small village in Nicaragua where she witnessed two things that changed her life: first, the absolute poverty of people who lived on nearly nothing along the edges of conflict and violence. Second, she saw and shared in the joy of a people who are simply glad to be alive.

By this time my new friend was crying. "I have so much and am still unsatisfied," she confessed; "they have nothing and they taught me about true riches. I'll never be able to feel faithful again." We visited for about 45 minutes and found bits of light and hope, laughter and future. Whatever this woman is doing today I am convinced she is living and teaching faith that matters in real life. What a gift. (And when my friend who did live in that neighborhood finally arrived, I made him sit down and answer her survey questions!)

The two disciples on the walk to Emmaus are from the larger circle of those who followed Jesus, not of the inner circle of 12. One of them is named Cleopas. The other is never named. Perhaps her name is Beth, once a sociology student and now a servant of God's Word in the world. Perhaps this disciple carries a name from your experience—maybe even your's.

along the way

pd

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THIS WEEK

Friday      5:00 - 6:00 pm Women's Bible Study

Saturday  9:30 am Choir rehearsal
                 12:00 pm Walk in the Park

Sunday     8:30 & 11:00 am Worship Services

† Walk in the Park
This Saturday, April 27th, at 12:00 pm at SOV

† Next Scrip Sunday is May 5th 

† Committee Awareness Day is next Sunday, May 5, between services. Tables will be set up for each church committee to present their mission. We want everyone who attends SOV to find a calling and join one or more of the committees that provide a vital service to our church community.

† Mark your Calendars for May 18th
Come join friends on a hike—
thru Washington Park and Council Crest area
Saturday, May 18.

The hike, known as the 4T trail, is moderate in difficulty with varying elevation.  It starts at Washington Park Zoo (but we will start at the Sunset MAX station). Hikers travel to the south of Hwy 26 on the "T"rail then take the OHSU "T"ram to the waterfront.  They then catch the "T"rolley to the Max.  From there we take the MAX "T"rain back to our cars.

Due to a busy parking lot in May, we will actually meet at the Sunset MAX station at 10:00.  Taking the MAX to the Zoo exit.  Please buy an "All Day Pass" which will be valid for the trolley and return trip on MAX. You must RSVP to Kristi so that we can hike together and not miss anyone.  Friends are welcome to join.  Hope to see you there.