Sunday, 1 April 2012 ~ “Other WISE”

Scriptures:   Palm and Passion Sunday readings from Gospel of Mark

LET US PRAY:  O God of grace and blessings ~ as we travel with Your Son today and throughout this Holy week … open us to hear Your word of grace in Jesus’ suffering and anticipate Your word of hope in Christ’s promised resurrection.  Amen.

My dear friend, Rev. Dot Shelly, is an amazing poet.  Her voice … her calm presence … embodies the calmness and calming insights that fill her poetry.  It was Dot who introduced me to one of HER favorite poets … Jane Kenyon.  Born inMichigan, Jane moved toNew Hampshireafter marrying poet Donald Hall.  In April, 1995, Jane died at the age of 48, after a 15-month battle with leukemia.  Today, I would like to share one of my favorite poems written by Jane Kenyon entitled:  OTHERWISE, published the year after her death.

I got out of bed

on two strong legs.

It might have been

otherwise.  I ate

cereal, sweet

milk, ripe, flawless

peach.  It might

have been otherwise.

I took the dog uphill

to the birch wood.

All morning I did

the work I love.

 At noon I lay down

with my mate.  It might

have been otherwise.

We ate dinner together

at a table with silver

candlesticks.  It might

have been otherwise.

I slept in a bed

in a room with paintings

on the walls, and

planned another day

just like this day.

But one day, I know,

it will be otherwise.

Life is filled with what I call “otherwise’ moments.  “Otherwise” moments are those pivotal moments when things can go Oh So Terribly Wrong … OR things that can, Thankfully, go Oh So Right.  I’m speaking of those moments when life moves into a totally different entity … moving in a direction and dimension that you had not anticipated OR hoped for!

Let me give you an example:

I remember back MANY years to when I returned from Europeand found a job in Phila. And commuted by train every day.  One night, the brakes on my train car caught fire and everyone was asked to move to another car.  I can still see the kinda cute,  tall guy with the brown hair who walked past my ‘new’ seat and smiled at me.  We soon became friends, sharing our stories while we commuted to work and home every day.  13 months later, David and I were married.  But, It might have been otherwise!

OH!  And, then, there was that time of major disappointment … when David and I found out that I couldn’t have children.  David and I filed our application with Mont. Co. Child and Youth Services to adopt a baby.  And, finally … 4 VERY long years later … we traveled to Collegeville to pick up our 4-month old son, Kevin.  At times, it seemed that moment would never arrive.  But, it was otherwise!

And, even as I share these stories with you … I am very keenly aware that ~ for many people ~ their “otherwise” moment is not always a happy one.  You see, I also remember receiving a phone call while living in Athens… telling me that there had been an accident while my parents were on vacation.  My Dad survived with minor cuts and bruises.  For my Mama … it was otherwise!

One of the things I love most about sharing the stories of Jesus with you each week is the time when we can share our stories with each other.  Are there any “otherwise moments” that you would like to share with each other?

LET’S take a moment to give thanks for all of the pivotal moments in our life … Loving God, sometimes our lives are filled with major disruptions, hills and valleys.  Thank you for being present with us in every ‘otherwise’ moment that graces our lives.  Amen.

You know:  whether we call them OTHERWISE or PIVOTAL moments … or COINCIDENCES … there is 1 very important thing for us to always remember … EACH of these happenings are TRULY “GODincidence” ~ BY-THE-GRACE-OF-GOD ~ moments.  And, no matter where these moments take us … by God’s grace, we have stood in the presence of the Holy and been touched by the hand of the Divine.

On this Palm / Passion Sunday … our readings from the Gospel of Mark very definitely speak of a very dramatic “otherwise” moment in time!

We know that Jesus’ sightsANDfeet were firmly set on the road that would fulfill God’s plan for the world.  And, despite the torture He would endure … Jesus never wavered OR experienced the OTHERWISE.

As we begin our journey into this Holy Week … we are invited to be PRESENT in these pivotal moments.

Today, we stand with the crowds ~ shoulder to shoulder ~ laying our coats on the ground; waving our palm branches and shouting our Hosannas!

However, this is not a shout of joyous welcome BUT a plea for Jesus to SAVE US!

By the end of the week, it might be otherwise!

Today, we wrestle with our own emotions as an unnamed woman anoints Jesus with costly ointment ~ torn between knowing that she alone is preparing Jesus for the events to come at the end of this weekANDfeeling the pain of not sharing in her offering.

By the end of the week, it could be otherwise!

Today, we long to be seated at the table with the other disciples … sharing the meal, the  stories and special prayers around the Passover Table with Jesus.

By the end of the week, it will be otherwise!

In just a few days ~ whether by conscious decision or simply by being swept along with the crowd ~ we will …

  • Hear the crowds around us beg that the criminal Barabbas be released and that Jesus be crucified
  • Watch Jesus stumble and fall under the weight of His cross as He makes His way to the Place of the Skull
  • Hear the sounds of hammers, pounding nails through flesh and bone
  • Huddle together ~ staring at a boulder rolled over the opening to a new tomb … wishing it WERE otherwise.

My friends … by the grace of God ~ we enter this Holy Week …

  • Knowing what to expect as each day unfolds
  • Feeling the pain and sorrow of Jesus’ agony and death
  • YET: Trusting that God’s grace will support us throughout this time.

BUT: we can enter this week with confidence because, by the grace of God ~ we can anticipate, with hope, a glorious morning … when a rising sun will reveal discarded linen cloths and an empty tomb.

Our journey with Jesus this week ~ from palms to passion … from broken bread to broken Body … is one that we can make with reverence and thanksgiving.  Because, by the grace of God … and His promise of His presence, love and life in eternity … we are assured that it WILL be otherwise!

Amen.

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