Welcome Good morning and welcome whether this is your first time worshipping with us or whether you have been part of this worshiping community all your life. We are all brothers and sisters and part of the same family of God. It is a blessing to be together. We lift up to God all those who could not be with us today for one reason or the other; “ Bless them, O Lord, wherever they may be and bring them back to us in your time, Amen.” Today is the third Sunday of Easter. We are continuing to explore what it means to live as “Easter People” in what often feels like a “Good Friday” world. In our gospel lesson, we hear Jesus asking Peter over and over again if he love him. Each time, Peter answers, “Yes, my Lord, you know that I love you.” By the time Jesus asked the same question the third time Peter begins to feel hurt. He feels hurt because Jesus does not seem to accept his answer. Jesus seem, no doubt, also feels hurt because Jesus feel mistrusted and is reminded of the three times Peter denied Jesus. However, despite Peter’s initial shame, Peter went on to demonstrate his love for Jesus and Jesus’s and Jesus’ disciples and people, Jesus’ sheep and lambs and sheep. Peter went on to be the leader of the early Christian movement. Legend has it that eventually Peter was crucified, for his faith. At his crucifixion in Rome, he requested that he be crucified upside down. Why crucified upside down? Because he dares not be crucified in the same position as his Savior! What about that!!?? Here the Good News. T he mark of true faith is NOT PERFECTION, but rather, TO ALLOW OUR WORST MOMENTS TO DEFINE WHO WE ARE. This leaves room for you and me to be Resurrected. May your time with us today be one in which you come to know “Resurrection Power and Light!” Yours, In Christ, Ernest Belisle (Pastor) 1
Chilmark Community Church 9 Menemsha Crossroad Chilmark, MA 02535 Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022 Welcome to our Resurrection Day Worship Service We are happy to welcome you to our Resurrection/Easter Day Worship Service. Today’s Gospel reading is from Saint John, chapter 20. This gospel has the longest resurrection account. First, Mary Magdalene, a key figure in all the resurrection accounts, came to the tomb and found the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Mary was surprised by the empty tomb, so she ran to Peter and John and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him” (20:2). Peter and John came and inspected the tomb, going inside and looking around. They verified that Jesus was not there and then returned to their hiding place. Mary lingered at the sight. Jesus revealed himself to her and engaged her in a conversation, relating to her the importance of his resurrection and exaltation. In this Gospel, these two acts, the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus the Christ, seem to represent the importance of the events. We must note that Mary approached the tomb in the dark. For John, darkness is a sign of ignorance (1:5; 8:12; 12:35, 46). She is ignorant (not knowing) of where Jesus’ body was and his resurrection. Mary panic, she feared that his grave was robbed, which was common in her time. As the Sun rose and Light is given, her ignorance is dispelled, and it is only then that she met the risen Christ. What are the things concerning life and death of which you and I are ignorant? Think about it! We know truly little about death and indeed, if we dear to acknowledge it, life itself! This, sometimes, makes us fearful and even resentful of death, and indeed, life! Allow the Son to rise in you, receive the Light and you will recognize the empty tomb (death) and life for what they truly are! Look up, O doubting soul, look up! Eyes fixed upon the earth can never see the life that finds in death its glorious birth. Look up! And ever looking up, your eyes shall clearly see the tombs of earth filled with the light of immortality (Thomas Kelly) . As Mary did, may you seek and find the living Christ this Resurrection Morning! Sincerely, Ernest Belisle (Pastor)
Beloved in Christ:
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
On the first Easter morning, the Resurrected Christ asks Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” (John 20:15). When Mary fails to recognize Jesus, He becomes personal and says to her, “‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher).” (John 20:16)
Though this beautiful and powerful dialogue between Jesus and Mary may be examined through different theological, cultural, and sociological lenses, may I invite you to recognize Jesus as the great servant leader who demonstrates the quality of empathy in this encounter with Mary.
Stephen R. Covey, from his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, writes “Empathy is not sympathy. Sympathy is a form of agreement … The essence of empathic listening is not that you agree with someone; it’s that you fully, deeply, understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually.”
Dylan Marron, a podcaster and writer for the TV show, Ted Lasso, said essentially the same recently: “Empathy is not endorsement” (Dylan Marron, as quoted on Today with Hoda and Jenna, NBC, April 1, 2022). We could all learn to be better empathizers today.
On the first Easter morning, the Resurrected Christ asks Mary powerful existential questions: “Why are you weeping?” And not once, but twice, He asks what she is looking for. Mary turns around and calls Him “Teacher” in her language, a language familiar to her.
Beloved in Christ, on Sunday as we listen to and reflect on the powerful gospel stories of Easter, sing the beautiful Easter hymns with gusto, and smell the aroma of lilies and Easter breakfast, perhaps with fresh maple syrup from our communities, countless “Marys” will be weeping – here and around the world.
- Marys who have lost family members to genocide in Ukraine or who are trying to make their way and find safety in a foreign country.
- Marys who have lost the ability to afford food for their tables in Afghanistan.
- Marys who have lost freedoms behind the wall in Palestine.
- Marys who have lost hope and dignity because of sexual violence and abuse in Ethiopia.
- Marys who have lost their homes, safety, and livelihoods in Syria.
- Marys who have lost access to healthcare, food, and clean water to airstrikes in Yemen.
- Marys who have lost children to gun violence on their streets, in their subways, in their places of worship, in their schools and shops, and in their homes in the United States.
- Marys who have lost loved ones to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Marys who have lost … so many words could fill this space.
Like Jesus, may we strive to be empathetic to the Marys in our midst: grandparents, parents, children, youth, young adults – children of God of all ages, in spite of their languages, cultures, and accents, by asking the question, “Why are you weeping?” And let us not just ask the question but go on to act as Jesus did, calling Mary first, “woman,” and then, in an empathetic spirit, by her name, so she recognized him in her own language.
This past Palm/Passion Sunday, I worshipped with two of our congregations and joined them for a lunch following the service. It was a wonderfully collaborative service and gathering in which the congregations sang songs of “Hosanna” while waving their palms AND demonstrating the power of that message by sharing the scripture in three languages.
Among these churches’ worshipers is an Afghan family the congregations have been assisting as they become accustomed to American life. They have provided housing as well as rides to the grocery store and appointments while raising money to purchase a vehicle for this family.
Additionally, one of the churches presented me with a check for $5,000 to be sent to UMCOR, earmarked for their ministry and mission in Ukraine, and they boasted in Christ saying, “Bishop, this is in addition to paying 100% of our shared ministries for mission.” Praise God!
Friends, I know ministries like these that show so clearly our Christian empathy are happening in many churches in our Conference. Thanks be to God in and through the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
May God enable us to be a church of the Easter promise, not just on Easter Day, but every day, so all who are weeping – and I mean all – find and enjoy the hope Mary experienced on that first Easter morning!
Prema joins me in wishing you and your loved ones a blessed and glorious Easter!
In Christ’s love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar
|Feb. 25, 2022Beloved in Christ: |
I greet you in the precious name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, during these troubled times of war in Ukraine.May I offer this prayer:
Gracious and loving God, we come before you with our hearts rent apart by senseless war between Russia and Ukraine. We cry out to you to bring a cessation of hostilities. We remember the words of the psalmist,
“The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven. His eyes behold, his gaze examines humankind. The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates the lover of violence” (Psalm 11:4-5, NRSV).We join a worldwide chorus of Christians who deplore the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We pray urgently for diplomacy and peace. We pray especially for those fleeing for their lives as refugees to other countries. May your grace and peace be with the children and all those whose lives are being uprooted. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
Please pray for our fellow United Methodists in the region, particularly Bishops Eduard Khegay (of both Russia and Ukraine), Patrick Streiff, Christian Alsted, and all church leaders and pastors in Russia, Ukraine, and neighboring nations as they lead their parishioners in these difficult moments and days.
May you consider giving generously to UMCOR, which has already sent $60,000 to install bomb film in windows of one hospital and 16 schools in Ukraine. More help will be needed for refugees and others affected by war.
In Christ’s love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar
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