A Word From Our Pastor: 2013 March Easter

Not all of the gospels tell the same Easter story.  The most mysterious is the gospel of Mark.   According to Mark, on Easter morning, three women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome go to anoint Jesus’ body.  When they arrive, they find that the large stone that had been blocking the tomb had been rolled away.  Inside the tomb, they find a young man who tells them that Jesus is risen, ‘He is not here. . .go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee.  There you will see him, just as he told you.’

Then comes the clincher:  the last verse of the gospel:  ‘Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.  They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.’

It’s a real cliffhanger, isn’t it?  If the women had remained silent, how do we end up here, two thousand years later, still talking about Jesus?   Where and how did they find the courage to tell the others to go to Galilee so that they might see the risen Christ?

It isn’t so different for us today.  We live in a world where many people (especially people in the Bay Area) aren’t interested in the story we have to tell.  Even more, there are plenty of people who don’t want to have anything to do with Jesus or church, perhaps because they had negative experiences of church growing up, or they don’t much like what the church seems to stand for today.  We often feel like those women on that early morning, hesitant to say anything about our faith to anyone, because we are afraid of their reactions.  Will they think we are fanatics?  Will they think we are trying to pressure them into something?  Will they start avoiding us because our talk about faith or church or Jesus makes them uncomfortable?

But we know better.  We know that church has been for us a place of comfort, of community, of joy. . .where we meet friends, sing songs that are dear to us, work for peace and justice and encourage one another to grow closer to God'” God who only wants us to be filled with love.

So it is a big bridge we have to build ‘” across the prejudices that our friends may have and the blessings we have experienced.  Where do we begin?

One suggestion:  start not just with words about the blessings of comfort, community and joy.   Why don’t we start with actions?  How can you bring comfort, community and joy to people you know?  What words can you offer? ‘” Send a friendship card, or write a short note of appreciation. . . this can be another way of saying ‘you are a child of God, and I see God’s love in you.’   Is someone you know going through a difficult time ‘” perhaps with career difficulties, aging parents, or raging teenagers?  Can you be a listening ear?  Don’t offer advice, but just be present and let them know that you want to take the time to pay attention to their struggles.   We will be offering a 5-week class on ‘Christian Caregiving’ in May   — it should give you lots of good ideas about how to offer comfort and community to your family and friends.

Find out what gives them joy, ‘” do they love going to Giants’ or Cal games or movies, but just don’t quite seem to get around to doing these things?  Can you help by planning an occasion with them?  When you’re there, help them savor the moment by saying how grateful you are to spend the time with them, and how great it is for the soul to do the things that give us life.

If you are able to have a conversation, you might be surprised that your friends and family are truly interested in the things that you have found so fulfilling in your faith and at church.  Or, when someone criticizes faith or the church, you might respond with something like, ‘I wouldn’t go to that kind of church either.  What do you think a church should be about?’ and let them tell you what kind of faith community they would like.

Maybe they don’t think the kind of community they long for exists. . .but perhaps it does. . .at BMU!

We are not trying to sell people something they don’t want.  We want to find out what people are longing for, and perhaps making a match between who we are, and what will heal them and bring them life.  Just as we have.  Been healed.  Found life.

Comfort.  Community.  Joy.  It’s here.   Now.  Celebrate Easter!


Easter Letter


Dear Friends and Members of BMUC,

After Jesus was resurrected on Easter,  and before Christ ascended to heaven, gave a few last instructions.  We know about paying attention to last words:  they are often the most important. . .  One gospel tells us Jesus’ last words in this way:

“Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?’ ”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Take care of my lambs”.  A second time Jesus said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.”  A third time Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter became sad because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” and so he said to him, “Lord you know everything:  you know that I love you.”
Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep”.  (John 21:15-17).

As a church community we have comfort, community, joy, love. . .Maybe not all of them, all the time, but we KNOW these things from our own experience.   In a world that often drags us down and is torn apart by violence, and oppression, we remember the peace and serenity that comes with helping to bind up the wounds of the broken-hearted.  Step out in faith and discover new life ‘” take care of a few of God’s sheep today, in your family, in your neighborhood, in Palestine, wherever you are called.  You are the light of the world!

Rev. Naomi