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Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 11). This version of the image shows the detail of his face. The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Easter Sunday‘s sermon was going to be a little different from the usual, according to my priest, Father Chip. It was different, and so

English: The Lord Jesus Christ in the image of...

English: The Lord Jesus Christ in the image of Good Shepherd. Early Christian tradition of symbolism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

in response to his request, I am attempting to answer the three questions that he posed. “Come back with your answers next week,” was his challenge. I decided that as long as I am writing, I may as well “blog it.” My wording of the questions may not be exact, but the meaning is the same. I hope I do them justice.

The first question is this: God shows no partiality; so why do we? Fr. chip went on to say that we are all the same in God’s eyes – black, white, gay, straight, Christian, atheist – and we must clear the deck, so to speak, and treat everyone the same. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? But do we as Christians really treat everyone the same? Are there any of us who can honestly say we have no prejudice? We are facing many questions in our country: same-sex marriage, immigration, multiple ethnicities in our schools and places of work, and other civil rights issues. Father Chip asks that we drop our prior notions and give these issues a clear look without prejudice. It is not easy.

I like that he reminded us that the first person our Lord appeared to after his resurrection was Mary Magdalene, a woman. Angels appeared to her, and the risen Jesus spoke to her before appearing to his other disciples. And yet there are still many churches who do not allow women to serve at the altar. The Episcopal Church allows women priests and welcomes equally all who enter its doors.

As a kid, I heard many prejudicial slurs, from other kids mostly. I believe these can be embedded in one’s subconscious, so that they can rear their ugly head later as adults.  Although we know these ideas and memories are wrong on many levels, they can appear in our thoughts in spite of ourselves and at very embarrassing moments. They relate to race, religion, sexual orientation, politics, and other aspects of life. We can also develop these prejudices as adults because of events that happen in our lives. I fully admit to them and feel very uncomfortable about that. The only antidote I know of is to dismiss them from our minds, ask God’s forgiveness, and move on, trying to make a more just world.

Question number two: Why do we look for the living among the dead, a scriptural reference from this morning’s sermon. This question has always puzzled me, and I have never understood it – until this morning. Father Chip explained this in a way that I can visualize as an unending line. Life is a continuum that does not recognize death, thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, who defeated death on the cross. When we die, we go on to another kind of spiritual life. We all will know this one day, but today we are asked to put our faith into the picture and believe that life goes on.

The third question is an easy one for me. Why are you here today? I have been attending church all my life. Well, not quite. There was a time I gave it up because I thought God had abandoned me. I finally concluded that I had abandoned God and came back to the fold. Otherwise, I have been faithful from the time I experienced Baptism as an infant. I like going to church. The music inspires me, the fellowship gives me joy, and yes, even the sermons give me something new to ponder. I have sung in the choir, served on the vestry, and worked on many committees. My husband and I raised our children as Christians, a fact that gives me great joy. I am here to stay, and I am here today because I want to celebrate the joy of Easter.

Joke: A man complained that he does not like going to church because we only sing two hymns –  Jesus Christ is Risen Today, and Silent Night.

Father Chip asked if you have never been here before, will you come again? He hopes so. He ran out of communion wafers this morning and had to go “backstage” and fill up. I’m sure he would like to do that again.

Each of these questions deserves more than I can give it. I hope I have not violated proper theology, and that Fr. Chip likes what I said. I’m sure he will tell me. We need to maintain a sense of humor about our Faith, our prejudices, and why we go to church, or don’t.

Thanks for listening.

English: Easter Sunday at St Andrew's

English: Easter Sunday at St Andrew’s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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