Holy Week 2020: Tuesday

Hard conversations. I feel like this was the central theme of the week. It matters not which account you chose to read, every single one of them tells of Jesus trying with all that he had to communicate and explain what is about to happen without giving up. But there were moments that he had to want to scream, “You idiots! What don’t you get?” When I pulled up the text for today, I read a familiar story of one of those conversations. The account is found in John chapter 12. It begins in verse 18 and is a lengthy passage. And while I tried to find the truth suggested, or at least an interesting new insight, I struggled with familiarity. Until I arrived at the last line: After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. (verse 36). That was the truth I needed this morning.

Jesus understood. Jesus was human. Jesus was like the worn out mom in the midst of quarantine. He, too, need to get away from the people and hide. Because being a coordinator of chaos is a heavy job. Because all the questions. Because we all have moments when we reach the end of our ability to be calm and kind and rational. We all have the moments where we just need to depart and hide.

Two nights ago, I knew in my gut that it was one of those nights. I went away for a bit (aka locked the bathroom door and prayed that no one would start bleeding or feeling). I took a break in my homebound sanctuary. But even that was not enough. After a long bath, I found myself sitting on my closet floor. The closet is inside the bathroom, inside my bedroom. I had 2 sets of door between me and the next human. I departed and hid from them. I texted a friend. I said some fu* and sh* words. I had a moment where I just needed to let the weight of the day jump the heck off my back. These moments are hard for people like me. I want to be the tough and capable type of human. I want the world to think that I have the answers and the serenity to face what may come. But the truth is, I don’t.

There is an added challenge for those of us that are holding on to sobriety in these days. It has been a while since my last drink, but please don’t think that I am not immune to the deepest desire to have some wine to wash away the day. I know that fast acting anxiety meds would work wonders for the wiggles and the need to run that I feel. These days are long. These feelings are big. The solitude is painful. And at the same time, the excessive words are maddening. One of the biggest signs of struggle in my sobriety experience has been drinking dreams. Multiple times in the last weeks I have woken up in a cold sweat because in my dream I was back at it. And for a moment it feels good. And then you wake up. You feel the misery. It is a painful way to “rest.” Actually, there is not much rest to be had in these moments. I was taught in early sobriety that sleeplessness does not kill you, but a drink can. So how do we keep moving?

I get my ass out of the bed when I wake up in that panic and I go for a long walk. I depart and hide from them. If I have learned one thing on this journey, it is that I need to work through the feels. Which I ABSOLUTELY hate. But they will kill me. They will suffocate me in the name of shame and resentment and fear. They will paralyze me from breathing. I have to get away from the voices that are filling my mind (my people, the TV) and I have to listen to my own Spirit. Some mornings, that means that I am walking around the neighborhood crying. Others, I am listening to a podcast and filling my inspiration tank with Brene’ and Glennon and Mike. And still other days, I am having an anger fit with my favorite musicians.

I feel like this week is a unique and holy moment to recognize the many ways that we are wired and called to not just read the stories but experience the journey. I am already planning some unique connection points for the days ahead. I can assure you that the other 3 humans in my house will want nothing to do with my pilgrimage, and honestly that is more than perfect. This is for me. I have spent most of my adult life preparing Holy Week for others. I don’t think I knew just how much I needed to travel this road without a to-do list.

Here’s a challenge for you. What does remembering the meal, the garden, the trial, death, Saturday and the first light of resurrection look like for you this year? Let me let you in on a secret that I’m finally embracing: there is no wrong way to do this. But, you miss a holy opportunity if you don’t.

May we depart from the ideas of should, and hide in the unique opportunities we have been given to walk this road with Jesus this week.

Holy Week 2020: Monday

The last week in the life of Jesus is something I have tried to wrap my mind around for decades. Knowing that the end was near. Walking alongside the people you love. Pressing to say all the words that you need to speak before time is up. I can only imagine that the conversations felt important. I can hear the passion in the words and instruction in the tone.

The Gospel text for today is the story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with costly perfume. To those at dinner that day, the group perception was waste. Why would you pour such a costly gift on someone’s feet? Mary used her hair to rub the oil on his feet. If you know my fear, hatred, abhorrence for feet, you can feel my body recoiling from this part of the story. But I need to tell it. We all need to see this. Mary did something so extravagant and overtly attention grabbing that people called her out for the crazy, for the unnecessary and wasteful act.

Have you have ever done anything that caused those around to question your crazy? Something that others perceive as unnecessary, wasteful, out of line or reckless? While I will never rub feet with my hair, I have had many a moment that my feelings, passions or need to speak up and out have caused me to move past the point of “acceptable” behavior. The number of times that I have been told to calm down, take a breath or just walk away are many. So, I get Mary. I get the kind of disrupted soul moment that all I can do is break that jar of oil and sit at the feet of those that have taught me that my passion is worthy of being trusted.

Recently, I have be writing extensively about listening to and trusting my inner voice (which I call Spirit). For many women, we are taught that our feelings are too much. We are led to believe that our passion and drive is too emotion based. I can see many of the comments that I have received in years past being said that day by the disciples to Mary. Yet Jesus had a different approach. He let her feel. He let her demonstrate and give action to her passion. He let her trust herself to respond in that moment to the whispers (and perhaps even the yelling) of her insides to cling to her teacher.

This leads me to a challenge for you today. Who are you clinging to? Who are you listening to in a way that expressing their worth in your life, as a voice of truth to you, is right? This is a bizarre season of separation. But like I said yesterday, we have a unique opportunity to slow down and speak words of affirmation and thanks for the teachers in our midst. Is it your friend? Is it a podcast host? Is it your child? Maybe all of the above? May we use today (don’t wait!) to lavishly express the place of honor that our people hold in our hearts.

Holy Week 2020: Palm Sunday

“When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: “Go over to the village across from you. You’ll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, ‘The Master needs them!’ He will send them with you.”

This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet: Tell Zion’s daughter, “Look, your king’s on his way, poised and ready, mounted On a donkey, on a colt, foal of a pack animal.”

The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!”

Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants.

He quoted this text: My house was designated a house of prayer; You have made it a hangout for thieves.

Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them. As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?” The parade crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee.””
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Matthew‬ ‭21:1-14‬ ‭MSG‬‬

This is my 45th Palm Sunday. With very few exceptions, I have been in church on this day my entire life. I have read this story countless times. I have walked on this street in Jerusalem and imagined this scene. I have participated in waving, displaying, collecting, drying and preparing the palm branches. And yet it took this long for me to see it. I read this story this morning in my pjs at home. Before I did, I intentionally took a deep breath, as if I knew I needed oxygen that I didn’t have.

I wonder if you can relate today? My breath has felt shallow at times these past few weeks. I have struggled to allow oxygen to feed the rational and stillness producing cells in my being. In these moments of chaos, my words have been erratic. My tendency has been toward panic and my thoughts have become blame filled and destructive.

There are times that I am proud of my holy discontent. It has been used for good in shaping more open spaces, more inclusive circles and more generous actions. I have used many of the stories of and the teachings of Jesus as my basis for righteous indignation. One of those stories is this moment in the temple. What I had failed to connect until today is that in Matthew’s gospel this happened on Palm Sunday. Jesus went from the branch waving party “straight to the temple” and got his fiery rebel-rouser on. I have always focused on the party of this day. But as any good challenging advocate will tell you, parties are short lived when there is work to do.

My insight hardly stopped there. Keep reading. Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. I know that this is a paraphrase version of the text. I know. But, I needed THESE particular words today. Especially the first one: NOW. It was because of Jesus’s table turning fit, because he kicked out the thieves and deceivers, NOW there was room for healing.

I sit on Palm Sunday of Holy Week in a season of spiritual house cleaning. I have had the fits. I have had the anger. And because I do those emotions and feelings so naturally, I know they are not gone forever. They will return. In the meantime, because I have turned over some tables and kicked some of the thieves out of my soul space, I have room for the brokenness. I have room for the questions and doubts and the healing. I now have space to drag my tired and worn out body into the temple.

I’m going to sit in the house of prayer that I have created space for this week. I may not have words. I’m sure I won’t have answers. I may not understand the reasons, but I will be there. And this is only possible because I have made space. So if you need permission to flip some tables, my friends, you have it. This day is not just about crowds and parades and celebrations. On this day, while the kids ran through the temple waving their branches, Jesus was deviating from the social norms and cleaning house. May that be our call today. Flip that shame table over. Kick over that belief that you are not smart enough, religious enough or faithful enough to be in the temple. YOU BELONG. I BELONG. And If anyone tries to tell you that you don’t, send them my way. I still have enough holy frustration to break a table over their thieving back.

Hosanna!

RELEASE: 2020

I am horrible at making resolutions. I find myself hating them before the first week is out. Years ago I was introduced to the idea of a word for the year. Over the past few years, I have identified words like JOURNEY and JOY and WHOLENESS. Words that have been turned into jewelry and vision boards and prayers. It is one of the only “resolutions” I have. I resolve to pick a word.

My intentional movement towards a word for the year begins at the beginning of the liturgical new year, Advent. By the time we reach January 1, I comitt. Since it is now, 11:36pm on December 31st, there is no time like the present.

There are many reasons that I have chosen RELEASE for 2020, but there are a few that I want to share publicly:

1. Let’s start with the obvious. My oldest leaves home this year. If that is not RELEASE, I dont know what is. My word is always about me. It is about what I need to center and grown into in the coming year. I’m not sure anything can teach you like the journey of motherhood, so launching my girl into the world has once again wrecked me. I just can’t think about all the things that I have to RELEASE with this one, but it is for real.

2. I am an Ennegram 8. I am bold and oppoinionated and damn right. All the time. To say that I have some serious RELEASING to do in the “my way or the highway” department is an understatement. And I do. The Divine is teaching me this in all kinds of neat ways, so I will lean in. And probably fall on my face. You have been warned.

3. And at the exact same time, I will celebrate four and a half DECADES of life this year and, guess what? Some things never change. I am who I am. I am a big personality. I suck at keeping in touch with people. I basically hang up the phone on everyone who calls me. I have a wicked sarcastic streak and I am really fond of fu and sh words. I am also the kind of parent that lets my kids say fu and sh words, correctly of course. So, there you have it. I also love to talk about the Spirit and redemption and faith and recovery. I have come to the amazing realization that these things are not for everyone. More interestingly, the circle where all of these things can coexist seems even smaller. Therefore, I know that the time has come to do some more RELEASING of expectations.

I tell you these things in the hope that you will join me breathing life to a word as you enter this year. If you have one already, please send it to me. I love to know how we are all journeying together on our own paths. If you want to explore this idea more, reach out, I would love to process the journey of intention with you.

Happy New Year

PEACE: when things don’t feel peaceFUL

Motherhood is the definition of helplessness. I always thought that moms had all the power. And while they ARE superwomen, there is nothing like a sick child or an accident that you can’t fix to remind you that you are not in control. My youngest was diagnosed with scoliosis in August. I have spent the last 4 months learning that once again, I cannot fix, change, mastermind, coordinate or bargain our way out of this challenge. There have been very few weeks since the diagnosis that we have not been in a doctor’s office getting new imaging, fitting for her brace or learning a new aspect of care to withstand the pain.

This is not my first rodeo with health concerns and my kids. I have learned and advocated and researched and studied before. I have become a non-licensed expert in areas that I previously knew nothing about. But unlike some other challenges, this one seemed to hit me in new ways of hurting. My Gator is my physically strong one. Her will is equally as powerful. There is something about those that are wired to throw caution to the wind in a sport that gives the appearance of invincibility. That’s my girl.

Standing 6’+ in shoes, she is now looking down on me. Her shoulders are broad enough to stand on. Her feet are more like flippers. And her hands: we all agree that those fingers are just freaky long. But her spine, that is another story. It has 3 curves. It causes her rib cage to be displaced. Her low back comes out from her hips sideways, which we now understand is why she has had hip pain for 3 years. On the surface her body looks so strong, but growing has been hard on the part of her skeleton that supports the core – literally.

In November, she was at swim practice and lost feeling in legs and feet. Some tingling is not unusual. That is part of the journey of pain management, but this was different. We had to go back to the drawing board for more imaging. We found some additional complications in her low back. She sat out her November meet, in hopes that she could be strong enough to complete at her last age group championship meet in December. That meet was this past weekend.

To say that I lacked “peace” in the last few weeks would be an understatement. I was mildly psychotic – trying to ice and massage and give her relief. She was not able to train like she wanted. On more than one night, we sat in tears of frustration. Peace is defined as “a state of tranquility or quiet.” That is not what we have been throwing down around Team Hilbrich. We have been more like anti-peace. Chaos. Fear. We braced for the worst this weekend. In a direct quote from the 14 year-old, we “prepared for the shit show.” Both sets of grandparents traveled with us because we were going to celebrate the simple fact that she was in the water. She was swimming and that had to be the joy. It had to.

She swam a smaller schedule that she wanted to. She even scratched (swimmer speak for elected not to swim) one event during the meet. Every time she went off the block, I felt pain shoot up my own back in sympathy. It was hard to watch, but weirdly, peaceful. She is so happy on the pool deck. I am happy with a latte and a biography in the same way that she comes alive cheering for her teammates and joking with her coach.

After a race, her feet have nerve pain. She describes it like feeling as if they are asleep. Depending on the length and the intensity of the swim, it can be more severe. She swam 2 events each day. After the first event, she would get in the cool down pool and then return to her chair. This is the position that she would assume to help her feet regain full feeling for the next race. It struck me as I watched her, that this was her peace. She knows how to prepare by reestablishing her strength.

I wonder how many of us need that kind of Advent peace today? Do you know what your soul requires to return to a place of tranquility and quiet? I admire and love the fact that not only does she know it, but she also practices it. She stays close to her place of comfort and strength and intentionally engages in the actions that produce healing. Even when she knows that she cannot practice “fully”, she gets in the water for at least 2 hours everyday. She exercises her core and rolls her muscles. She wears her brace 18 hours a day. She does everything she knows to do to set herself up for success. That’s how we find peace. We do the things that we know can fill our soul (and mind and body).

Oh, and she swam 3 best times and finished 2nd in her favorite event. It was hardly the shit show that I worried about. That’s what I get for choosing not to lean in. May we cling tight to the journey of peace this week.

HOPE: The Eyes of a Child

Last night, we held the first of 3 Advent contemplative prayer times at our church. For an hour each week, we will stop. We will be still (if not in our body, at least our soul). We will look for ways to connect with the Divine in new and ancient practices. There is a station centered around Anglican prayer beads. There is a station inviting us into the practice of the labyrinth. There is also an art installation that helps us navigate the often challenging waters of practicing prayer.

The art is created by Scott Erickson. His work challenges and moves me. The opening statement of the collection held my attention and prayer for the entire time last night. But it was one of the closing lines that my heart played on repeat. “The essence of prayer is the Love of God.” That is just good. I clearly over complicate prayer. I have too many rules. I have expectations and qualifications. Yet I miss out because it is not about the checklist, it is all about love. I think that is where our world misses the mark most often.

During our prayer time, we were each invited to explore prayer in a way that was helpful for us. There were families with children as young as 7 participating. As we closed the evening, our pastor asked us to reflect on the experience. I enjoyed being still. I actually wanted it to last longer. I felt nudging to move and act. But what I really needed to hear was the voice of the youngest in the room. As the first to speak up during reflection time, my friend said, “I saw God in the fire of the candle. Because, God is the light of the world.”

Mic drop, Noah. Mic drop.

HOPE: In Unexpected Places

In December of 2013, my then 11 year-old raised money to give American Girl dolls to children that would not otherwise get one. What at first glance seemed like a cute one-time service project continued the next holiday season. And the next. By the end of 2019, the dream of two teenagers became a non-profit organization and will have placed more than 750 dolls and raised more than $80,000. All of this is wonderful. The hope that they have spread in their work is tremendous. But Dolls For All is more than a charity. It is more than a way to get service hours for a resume. For my daughter, this work has changed her life and been a gift of hope to HER.

Today, she hosted the first holiday tea party to honor 5 recipients. We went back to my daughter’s elementary school. In those halls, she became acquainted with anxiety and panic. She learned that there was something different about her insides. She could not explain it at the time, but school seemed to trigger the worst in her brain. Yet, she excelled at this thing called “education.” The same place that brought on terrible tears and fears also gave her space to be challenged and shine in the classroom.

As she navigated the ups and downs of her own journey, her compassionate heart was always drawn to kids. I like to say that she came out of the womb wanting to mother. She is, by her very DNA, a tender nurturer of all young people, especially the hurting ones. As Dolls For All grew, she began working with and reaching out to organizations that cared for kids on the margins. She learned about CPS and CASA and Child Advocates. She worked with school counselors to encourage kids that had been through their own personal trauma.

At 15, she hit a personal wall. One that could not be climbed in the “traditional” education system, so a shift was made to online school. What felt like defeat in many ways was the open door of hope. It was because of this change that her schedule was freed to explore ways to grow Dolls For All and in-turn her own love of children.

She recently wrote her college application essay. She didn’t shy away from the messy parts of her story. She spoke her truth. She also gave much of the credit for the shape and the trajectory of her future to the opportunities, people and organizations she has met as a part of her Dolls For All journey. What began as an opportunity to give children a toy has been a tool of redemption that God has used to be a light of hope in the midst of some very dark days.

That’s the tricky thing about hope. It can surprise you. What started out to be a light of hope for others has turned into the greatest hope show imaginable. There is nothing like leaving a tea party or delivery and seeing the sheer fullness in my girl’s heart. As my friend John says, “HOPE. Like a prayer to get through the night.”

HOPE: A Musical Experience

This morning, I woke up and was not feeling all of the hope. Yesterday I preached about the topic and yet I could not find it in my insides today. In a very strange turn of events that we can discuss at a later date, I have recently developed a pattern of living that involves walks. So I took one. In days past, I would have mulled. I probably would have pouted and stewed. But as I began out my door, the cool air hit my face and so did the sun. It was so bright. So bright.

Even with the world and creation shouting a new season to me, I was still mulling on my own world. Usually my walks include my favorite musicians. Most often, the blasting beats are sung by 90s pop artists with a random twist of a 80s country song. But today…

I have talented friends. I am so thankful that I have the privilege to walk alongside of and learn from people whose gifts and giftings are completely different than my own. I am surrounded by writers and artists and athletes. I often listen to tales of creating and grinding. Some of these things I understand. Some of them I just love to hear about because they are the heartbeat of my people. One of my co-conspirators in all things Liturgy is my friend John.

Today I needed a kick in the Advent ass and he provided it in the form of one of my favorite Advent songs. “Hope is Here” was on repeat in my ears until I was ready to be IN hope. If you have never heard this song, download John’s Advent music and make a playlist now. I am also a HUGE fan of the “Peace of God”, so add that in, too. Because you just need this in your life. If you don’t already know him, let me introduce you to one of my favorites, Mr. John Hatfield:

How long can you hold on?
How long can you wait?
How long can you look for a sunrise?
How long is too late?

It feels like forever
You gotta have faith
We’re going to see the sun rising one day
But we have

Hope
Like a prayer to get through the night
Love
Like a song instead of a fight
Joy
Like the brightest of heavenly lights
Peace like a river

Somewhere in the darkness
Out there in the night
The morning is breaking through clouds with its light
So we’ll have

Hope
Like a prayer to get through the night
Love
Like a song instead of a fight
Joy
Like the brightest of heavenly lights
Peace like a river

Hope is here and
Love casts out all fear and
Joy will hold you near and
Give you peace

Hope
Like a prayer to get through the night
Love
Like a song instead of a fight
Joy
Like the brightest of heavenly lights
Peace like a river

released December 4, 2018

Hope Is Here
Music & Lyrics by John Hatfield

Advent 2019: Hope

I am a documentary nut. I love to watch them on all the streaming things. Recently, I have watched multiple accounts of the journey of patients with AIDS – both in the early days of the epidemic and the advancements in treating the disease. One of these stories was the account of program that was started in Salt Lake City’s Holy Cross Hospital.

In the mid-80s, these women of faith stood eye to eye with one of the most hope-LESS diseases of our time. With no cure and an almost certain death sentence, they loved and cared and nursed and offered grace in ways that I can almost promise none of them ever intended. It’s almost as if they were open to not-knowing…

One of the sisters, Bernie Mulick said, “It’s part of our mission as Sisters of the Holy Cross to care for those who are poor and sick and needy. We have always cared for the forgotten ones, for the underdogs. They were the railroaders and the coal miners in our earliest days in Utah. During the 1980s and 1990s, individuals with HIV and AIDS were the lepers of the time, and no one else was taking care of them.”

Another nurse, Sr. Linda Bellemore said, “Those were the years of fear about the transmission of this terminal disease resulting in alienation from family, friends and society due to their diagnosis. At the time of their lives when they most needed care and support, how could I not help? The need was obvious, and I am committed to serving people as Jesus did, especially the poor and alienated.”

Watching this film made be want to be that kind of hope dealer. These women were hope with skin. The kind of hope that stands in the face of death and pain and horrible alienation and loves. Because there was no cure. There was no medicine. There was not even a promise of acceptance and basic care. And yet the Sisters offered hope in the midst of the darkest, darkest pain. 

We don’t get to have hope without having seen pain. Hope dares to admit that not everything is as it should be, and so if we want to be hopeful, first we have to walk into the darkness. First we have to see that something is broken and there is a reason we need hope to begin with.

Advent matters, because it’s our way of keeping our eyes and our hearts and our arms all wide open, even in the midst of our not-knowing and darkness and longing. The weary world is still waiting in so many ways, in so many hearts, in so many places, for the fullness of the Kingdom of God to come. 

Advent is for the ones who know longing for that kind of hope.

Holy Week 2019: Palm Sunday

This is the week. This is the week that changed everything for those who follow Jesus. For me and my fellow Liturginerds, we get stupid excited when Holy Week begins. It’s the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Our journey is wrapped in everything from celebration to sorrow and back again. This year I have jumped headlong into a study and use of the Enneagram in my personal growth. One of the most fun moments of the joking and learning process was the identifications of the corresponding Enneagram numbers and Liturical Seasons. I am a passionate 8. I am also a living breathing story of Holy Week. I love the party, I need the meal, I depend on the darkness and I hope in the light. All in a 7 day period. You will hear from me daily this week, and some of this is not new information, but it is the great story of the Greatest story and we need each day.

I need just a moment to express some personal thoughts on this week. Well, perhaps they are more than thoughts. They are my not so subtle suggestions. Please hear them with the appropriate amount of love and grace and firmness. PLEASE do not skip from Sunday to Sunday. The story of Jesus is not complete with just palms and lilies. We need the bread and the cup. We need the nails and the grief. We need to hear and feel the stone closing of the tomb. When we wave palm branches on Palm Sunday and skip past the week to a sunrise egg hunt and matching family pastels, we miss the WHY.

I missed worship today. I was at a swim meet this morning with my youngest. Between some great swims and a live stream of a historic round of golf, we were throwing our own party. I was with my dad, and if you know him, you know that Tiger and his Ally-Gator are two of his favorite athletes. Watching the cheering and yelling and precious reverence was a holy moment for me.

While we were cheering our sports things, I was reminded that around the world people were gathering together and shouting Hosannah and celebrating that the King is riding the donkey into Jerusalem in Glory.  There were children whacking each other with leaves and reminders of parties and glory. There were picnics and egg hunts. Today was a celebratory time for so many. I was terribly sad that I was not with my community this morning, and I took a few moments of stillness to usher myself into this week. This is important. We have much to celebrate and grieve about and hope for in the days to come. Be present and connect in ways that are meaningful for you.

Over the next few days, I am going to write about stories that are found in the Gospels between the entry of Jesus to Jerusalem and the Last Supper. On Thursday, we will remember a holy meal. Friday is the day that hope seems lost as we witness the pain of death. And then we wait.

You can do this in many ways, but I find it especially valuable to do this in the context of community. For my local friends, I would be honored to have you as a part of our community at ECL. On Thursday, we will share the Eucharist in the context of a potluck meal. Join us at 6:30pm under the oak trees at 218 Clear Creek Ave. Friday, we will journey with the Gospel writer John and be reminded of the pain of death. This service will draw on the hopelessness on the day of Crucifixion.  That service begins at 6:30pm, as well. Sunday morning, all are welcome for our Easter Vigil at 6am. We will gather by firelight under the oak tree for reading, listening and anticipation of resurrection. And at 10am Sunday we will celebrate all that is Resurrection. All of it!

This week is intentionally painful. The road is not easy. My prayer for you is that you can find a space and time and way to be on a journey this week. If the journey of Jesus seems like a far away story from a far away time, I pray that it will come alive for you this week. May we see the road leading into Jerusalem as our invitation to hope.