Today it is my privilege to host Brian Marsh, pastor of our home church, Moreland Presbyterian Church. In addition to serving the flock at Moreland, Brian is a loving husband and father, musician, poet, comforter, and, in his own words, an all-round troublemaker wherever he is.
This past Sunday Brian spoke to us via Facebook Live Stream on the topic of Known in Absence. Below is Brian’s 180-word poetic version of his message. After reading these words, I was moved to share them here.
known in Absence by Brian Marsh
whether from Spirit
but the Magic
is what my Spirit
to fill the absence
and hold me
and tell me
is gonna be
three were confronted
by the Absence
and the fear
to familiar safety
in unfamiliar space
and encountered Presence
revealed in absence
a new Way
flow from Strength
from the soil
out of supposedly
but not driving
grief and sadness
by the same Spirit
that enabled Resurrection
of our innately
as Beloved vessels
equally valued Voices
and transformed rejection
I couldn’t come to grips with writing a new post this week. Something or Someone advised me to step back and take a self-care breather.
So, I’ve pulled this one from the 2015 archives, brushed it up a bit, and offer it to you on this Easter weekend in 2020. The memory is one of my childhood favorites. It always comes to mind during the week before Easter.
One Easter Sunday stands out in my mind above all others. The year 1950. I was around age four. Dressing up was a highlight to most little girls, especially around Easter.
Easter meant a visit from the Easter Bunny with baskets filled with eggs and jelly beans and always a chocolate bunny. And it almost always meant new clothes. This particular Easter meant a new pair of black patent leather Mary Janes. I was proud and excited to wear them. I thought Sunday would never come.
Finally, Sunday came. Up early to check out what was left by the Easter Bunny, eat breakfast, brush our teeth, and then dress for church.
That’s when it all fell apart. I heard Mama and Daddy talking. Well, maybe arguing.
“She cannot wear those shoes. Can’t you see it snowed last night?”
Oh, no! Mama was telling Daddy I couldn’t wear my new shoes. If I hurried, I could get dressed and have my new shoes on before they finished.
“Honey, the snow isn’t that deep.” Hurray for Daddy! But Mama was having none of it.
Finally, Daddy saved the day. He told Mama if she felt it was too messy to wear the new shoes, he would carry me from the house to the car, from the car to the church, and reverse his plan when it was time to come home.
I’ll never forget wearing those shiny new shoes. But above all, I’ll never forget how loved I felt when Daddy reached down with his long arms, picked me up, and carried me to the car and into church that morning. I like to think it was Daddy’s way of showing me the unconditional love of God.
Children have a way of catching you off-guard, don’t they? Specifically, they have a way of asking the wrong question at the wrong time, literally.
The following incident happened several Easters ago. Yet, each Easter since it’s a memory I still recall with a combination of joy and trembling.
One of our choir members had brought his four-year old granddaughter with him to the early service (8:00 a.m. *yawn*). Her grandma was home preparing Easter dinner for the family. Monica, the granddaughter, and I were good buddies so her grandpa asked if she could sit with me while the choir warmed up and during the service. Not a problem!
As the service progressed, our pastor stepped forward to bring the Easter message. In it, of course, he made reference to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
At the words, “Jesus died on the cross…,” she turned to me and in a whisper others could hear said, “Jesus died?”
The stricken expression on her face told me I needed to quickly respond with something comforting. But what would a four-year old understand about death and resurrection? Talk about feeling put on the spot!
Quickly I asked God’s help and just as quickly received an answer.
Giving Monica my full attention and getting down on her level, I quietly told her that yes, Jesus died on the cross as a gift for us. I also told her God brought Jesus to life again.
I then indicated we needed to be quiet and encouraged her to ask Grandpa more about it once they got home.
Her response? “Amazing!”
Yes, Monica, it is amazing and stays so year after year.
Have you ever been put on the spot by a child asking similar questions? Perhaps you’ll be willing to share below if you have.
Header image attribution: Via Pixabay/no attribution required
Palm Sunday, this last Sunday, is a time for reflection on Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. Palm Sunday also marks the beginning of Holy Week and the last days of the Lenten Season. We are now approaching the end of Holy Week and our arrival at Easter Sunday.
During Lent, our congregation celebrates the Last Supper or Communion every Sunday. Our usual tradition is to partake of Communion the second Sunday of each month. Some traditions practice Communion every Sunday all year, others once a month, some every other month. There are as many and varied ways of honoring this symbolic sharing of Christ’s Last Supper as there are denominations and modes of faith practices.
For me, the most important part of Communion is the remembering …
… remembering why God gave His only Son in this way
… remembering why Christ died on the cross and shed His blood
… remembering why we symbolically partake of Christ’s body and blood
… remembering what I am giving in exchange for the life I have been given
… remembering I am to spread His Word abroad
… and I am hopeful you can add to this list.
It was not for nothing that God chose to give up His only Son.God was giving us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life through His Son’s death and resurrection. Truthfully, I have only one child, a son, and despite how often he irritates me, I cannot imagine giving him up and watching him die.
It was not for nothing that Christ died on the cross shedding His blood for you and me. His precious blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life in Him as long as we confess our sins and walk with Him.
It is not for nothing that we symbolically partake of Christ’s body and blood. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 (CEB), Paul relates the Last Supper with Jesus’ disciples:
… He took some bread in his hands. Then after he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Eat this and remember me.”
After the meal, Jesus took a cup of wine in his hands and said, “This is my blood, and with it God makes his new agreement with you. Drink this and remember me.”
We partake because Jesus instructed us to do so to remember Him.
And what am I giving in exchange for this life I have been given? I am to give myself wholly to a walk of Christian faith, to witness and live so that others may see Jesus in me.
And am I spreading His Word abroad? I try, I honestly try. Wherever I go, I want to let others know I believe, that I am a Christian, and so I carefully think about my words and my actions wanting to show the best He has given me. Abroad is a hard one to manage living as I do in the U.S. and rarely travelling outside the state of Oregon. But with this blog and in connecting with others, I do pray it happens.
Most importantly out of all these things, I believe it is the instruction to “remember me” that we are called to bear witness to.
Required to remember so many things in this busy world–business appointments, doctors’ appointments, kids’ after school activities, where to be when, where you put your keys or cell phone and more–we often forget to remember Him in the middle of our daily activities. But it is what we are to do.
The week between Palm Sunday and Easter is considered by many religions to be Holy Week. During this week, many observers re-enact, duplicate, or otherwise repeat some of the acts of Jesus between the of his entrance into Jerusalem and his crucifixion and resurrection. It is this journey we draw close to during Holy Week.
Remembering the path he walked … and why.
And as we approach this holy time near the end of Lent, are you remembering? Are you able to add to my list above?