Good morning all! Well, we are in the last stretches of our Lenten journey. This week is Holy Week. I feel a little like it’s the calm before the storm…
Today’s scripture: Isaiah 42:1-9 Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
Yesterday was a crazy day of whirlwind emotions and activities. At McMinnville Cooperative Ministries the services were powerful. Two outstanding women shared their stories. One woman shared about remembering sexual abuse and sharing the truth, how she felt betrayed, but had to be heard. And the other woman (yay Susan!) shared with us about how to connect with one another, how we each deal very differently in the midst of betrayal, suffering and tragedy, and how to hold one another during this time. So powerful!
Then I had a fab lunch with my friends and colleagues, Mark and Robin. It is a lucky thing to like your co pastor and choir director. We had some wine, caught up and went to buy some more wine together after lunch.
I then traveled to Salem to attend the graveside service of Phil Hanni. Phil was my pastor during my middle school years. He and Erin, his wife, got me through some pretty awkward years of life with their grace and encouragement. They led me through confirmation in the church. Phil was a gentle soul who genuinely cared for people and fought mightily for peace in his own way. Phil introduced me to the works of Frederick Buechner. And I remember one time when we were caroling to shut ins and I saw Phil sit with this woman who I did not know and give the most moving pastoral care. At the time, I didn’t think about the pastoral care aspects but in my early brain I thought, “wow, he is giving this person time and care that is amazing.” I could see his complete presence with her, his gentleness, the way he gave that moment to her completely. She was fully cared for. After Phil retired, he and Erin moved to Salem and I chose Willamette as my college after high school. Phil and Erin would see me and give me great big hugs every time and I knew I was the most important person in that moment. They encouraged my seminary searching and kept me posted on their lives. Every time I appeared at Willamette afterwards for meetings or catching up I saw Phil and Erin in the coffeeshop on campus.
I was sad to be letting Phil go back to God yesterday and happy to be supporting Erin. These people are family to me and it was good to be surrounding them. This week is so bittersweet with death and new life. I find myself getting nostalgic and thinking about these wonderful people who have passed before me. Phil’s death has really brought all of that to the forefront. This week holds all of that for me, especially remembering those who have gone before me and have lead the way for me. I usually spend some time really remembering my grandmother who passed 7 years ago during Holy Week. I remember her bravery and her grace. She was a courageous woman who lead the way for me as well. And these are just two people that I hold up this morning.
Isaiah gives us what we traditionally call the profile for the suffering servant. Over the years we have taken this to mean prophecy for Jesus which is why it appears now and during Advent. But what I love about this passage is that Isaiah holds up a leader who fights for justice, who serves the poor and marginalized, who leads the way for change, who leads us into a little bit of light. I think that could be so many more people than Jesus. Could it be profiling those who step up and lead the way for us? Could it call us to remember what others have done for us and what we are called into?
I believe so. So today remember those who have gone before us. Spend a little time honoring your saints in your life, maybe light a candle and get ready to step up to where we have been called.
At the end of yesterday, Jeff and I went to a concert. It was in a little venue in Willamina and it was so great. Good people, good food, great music. As I sat listening to these musicians putting their spin on music from the past I thought about how they weren’t so different from me and then I enjoyed what they brought. May you find the space to do the same.