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  • Copyright 1998 by St. Paul's Episcopal Church, St. Joseph, Michigan.

      St. Paul's

    E p i s c o p a l     C h u r c h

    914 Lane Dr.           St. Joseph, MI              (616) 983 - 4761         Fax:  (616) 983-5682

    At a Wednesday Eucharist a few weeks ago I told about a professor of mine at seminary who was also an Episcopal nun, The Rev. Sister Rachel Hosmer. She once mentioned a dream she’d had in which a person could mail order Jesus. There was a blond haired, blue eyed Jesus in a blue robe, or a brown haired, brown eyed Jesus in a red robe. The surprise was that, instead of getting what you ordered, you got the real thing.

    Our idea of how God should act and God’s idea of how God should act are often two different things. The first Sunday in Lent begins, in fact, with the devil tempting Jesus to act as we might expect God to act: turn stones into bread (why doesn’t God do something about all the starving people); throw yourself off the Temple (show us some miracles that will assure us that you are who you say you are); take your power and reign over all the kingdoms of the world (and show Osama Bin Laden who’s really boss).

    We tend to fall into the same trap as St. Peter who knew Jesus was the Messiah but wanted him to be the conquering king rather than the suffering servant. His mail order Jesus would not be a crucified Lord who, in the eyes of the world, was a total failure. Peter wanted a Messiah who would restore Israel, free the people from their oppressors and rule over a temporal kingdom. But God’s Messiah, the real thing, would restore all human kind, free us from the bondage of sin, and rule over an eternal kingdom of which we could forever be a part. When Christ rose from the grave, Peter probably realized that his mail-order Jesus couldn’t begin to match the Messiah of God.

    We too want to have our mail-order Jesus. We have our own ideas of how he should act — and if he would just listen to us, the world would be so much better off. But time and again I’ve heard people say, for instance, that healing came in a wonderful way — but not as they had expected; or they came to understand things or know people they never would have otherwise if things had gone more as they’d hoped and prayed. This is not to say that we will always agree with God’s action (or seeming inaction). It does mean we trust that, by God’s grace, the darkness of crucifixion will never overwhelm the promise of resurrection.

    As we move through the shadows of Lent and Holy Week into the glorious light of the resurrection, may we be reminded of those moments in our lives when, although God didn’t act as we had hoped, he acted in a way that ultimately was more profound, loving and gracious than we could have imagined. And may we be grateful that, instead of our puny idea of Christ, we get the real thing.

    Mother Liza Spangler

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    The Rev. N. DeLiza Spangler, Rector

    The Rev. Jason A. Fout, Curate

    Susan Russell, Senior Warden

    Phil Coffin, Junior Warden