Because of Thomas

Hands of Proof, by Hyatt Moore

Welcome to a reflection on the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Easter and for the sixth Sunday of this pandemic in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In my prayers and study of the Easter season Gospel stories, I have been amazed at how much they speak to our situation in this vulnerable time.

And this Sunday, when we hear the mislabeled story of “doubting Thomas,” I think we discover an apostle who is truly speaks to this moment in history.

In all of the gospels, Thomas speaks rarely and those times are all in John’s Gospel. In Chapter 14, Jesus is telling the apostles that in his Father’s house there are many dwelling places. And that he – Jesus – is going to prepare a place for them. He tells them they “know the way” to the place that he is going. Thomas, honest and humble, says “Lord, we do not not where you are going. How can we know the way?”

“How can we know the way?” Isn’t that a pandemic question? When will this end? Will it end and come back? Will society be forever changed? Thomas knows what it is like to live with uncertainty, and to receive the answer of Jesus: “I am the way.” Jesus’ way of compassion is the way.

A few chapters earlier we hear Thomas speak when Jesus says he he is going to Bethany, which is near Jerusalem. Jerusalem was the center of the Temple’s and the Empire’s resistance to him. It is a place to be feared for the followers of the Messiah but Thomas says “Let us go also that we may die with him.” Thomas is committed to Jesus no matter what. Can we be committed, no matter what? I am inspired everyday but the doctors and nurses and first responders who go toward the sick and dying. I am inspired by those who do the sometimes difficult work of staying at home to keep this disease from spreading.

And then we get to Sunday’s Gospel. It is evening of the day Jesus rose from the dead. The disciples locked in a house out of fear. And the Risen Jesus appears to them. But Thomas is not with them. John’s Gospel does not tell us why Thomas was missing. I have a theory. Could it be that Thomas is not there because he is still doing the work of Jesus? This apostle who was not afraid to die with Jesus is still doing what Jesus did. He is healing the sick and feeding the hungry. For Thomas, Jesus’ death does not stop the mission he gave us. It’s just a theory, don’t tell the bishop.

When Thomas comes back, the disciples tell him “we have seen the Lord.” Thomas replies with the most misunderstood statement in all of the Gospels: “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and I put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in in his side, I will not believe.”

For this we commonly call him “doubting.” Or could it be that Thomas really knows Jesus? Thomas knows Jesus as the Way. The way of compassionate love. You see, Thomas does not want an angelic, abstract, spiritualized Jesus who is Risen above it all. He wants the real Jesus, the wounded Jesus, who will stay with the wounded of this world and who will take the wounded of this world to where he is.

We know how the story ends. The wounded Jesus appears to Thomas. And Thomas says the most profound expression of faith uttered by any of the apostles: “My Lord and my God.”

In our days, days of terrible suffering, times when some of us are dying without the physical presence of family and friends, a time when many are in financial need, we might ask, “where is God?” Because of Thomas we know where God is. We know that the wounded and Risen Jesus is right here among the wounded of the world. And we know his way – the way of compassionate love – is the salvation of the world. Amen.

+Doug

The Bishop’s Easter Message: Love is Stronger Than Death

April 12, 2020

Welcome to an Easter reflection at a time when we need, really need, to feel the presence of the Crucified and Risen Jesus. Every day during this pandemic I have been saying this prayer from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Written in 1968; I believe it speaks to our time.

“God, we thank you for the inspiration of Jesus. Grant that we will love you with all our hearts, minds and souls, and love our neighbor as ourselves, even our enemy neighbors. And we ask you God, in these days of emotional tension, when the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail, to be with us in our going out and our coming in, in our rising up and in our lying down, in our moments of joy and sorrow.”

“When the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail.” Easter began in just such a moment. In John’s Gospel we hear that “while it was still dark” Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus. Mary Magdalene got up from bed after what was probably a sleepless night spent reliving the horrific death of her friend Jesus. How would she ever get those images of a tortured man out of her head? And “while it was still dark” she left her home and walked to the tomb to go and anoint the body of the one she thought could save Israel. Mary walked to that tomb in sadness, in grief, in disappointment, in loneliness.

After Mary sees the empty tomb, Peter and the other disciple go in, see the tomb is empty and return home. Mary stays, weeping. As she wept she looked into the tomb and saw two angels. The angels don’t say “Alleluia, Christ is risen.” They don’t say “Hail, Thee Festival Day.” They say “why are you weeping?” She tells them why. And then the one she thinks is the gardener – who is actually the Risen Jesus – asks her the exact same question: “why are you weeping?”

You see friends, New Life, resurrected life, begins when compassion comes into the darkness. “When the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail” that’s when Jesus and his Mission of mercy, compassion and hope rises.

The next thing that happens in the story is that Mary hugs Jesus. At a time of physical distancing we might feel jealous of Mary. But Jesus says “don’t cling to me.” He has to be on his way. The great preacher Barbara Brown Taylor explains: “The only thing we cannot do is hold on to him. He has asked us to please not do that because he knows that all in all we would rather keep him with us where we are than let him take us where he is going. Better we should let him HOLD ON TO US. Better we should let him take us into the presence of God, who is not behind us but ahead of us every step of the way.”

Death could not hold Jesus. When the problems of this world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail, the Risen Jesus cannot be held down. Jesus, the crucified, risen, compassionate one holds us in faith, hope and love. And gives our spirits New Life.

Remember Ash Wednesday? That might seem a world away. On that day ashes were placed on our foreheads with the words “Remember you are dust. And to dust you shall return.” That is a true statement. But is only part of the truth. On Easter we hear the rest of the truth: “Love is stronger than death. And to that love you are returned.”

Death could not hold Jesus. But resurrection on that Easter Sunday was not just for Jesus. It was also resurrection for Mary Magdalene. In the darkness and the chaos she experienced the compassionate love of Jesus. And she joined him in a mission of compassionate love in this world. A mission that goes on even “when the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail.” A mission we see every day in the hospital workers and first responders who keep healing at the risk of their own lives. A mission of compassionate love that expresses itself in the many ways we stay in contact with friends and neighbors and church members even while we can’t physically present. A mission of compassionate love expressed in staying home to keep others safe. Because you see St. Paul got it right:

“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. And now faith, hope and love abide, these three. And the greatest of these is love.”

Amen.

+Doug

The Rt. Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, Bishop

Keeping Watch Together

Screen grab from nightly Compline feed on ZOOM

For the past two weeks I have been leading Compline at 8 pm every evening via zoom. We get quite a number of participants as we all look for community, prayer and hope in this time. Compline has beautiful prayers to help us do just that. My favorite is:

“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work or watch or weep this night and give your angels charge of those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.”

I have said that prayer for many years, but somehow it seems written for this time of pandemic. As do the psalms for Compline, such as this one: “Many are saying, ‘Oh that we might see better times! Lift up the light of your countenance upon us, O Lord.”

Here are a few other prayers and meditations I have use these past two weeks in the midst of Compline. My friend and bishop classmate, Rob Wright, says this:

“Music is not cancelled.

Prayer is not cancelled.

Rest is not cancelled.

Compassion is not cancelled.

Hope is not cancelled.

Study is not cancelled.

Memories are not cancelled.

Phone calls are not cancelled.

Faith is not cancelled.

Planning is not cancelled.

Dreaming is not cancelled.

Laughing is not cancelled.

Imagination is not cancelled.

God is not cancelled.”

The Rt. Rev. Robert Wright

On another night I quoted this from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968:
“God, we thank you for the inspiration of Jesus. Grant that we will love you with all our hearts, minds and souls, and love our neighbor as ourselves, even our enemy neighbors. And we ask you, God in these days of emotional tension, when the problems of the world are gigantic in extent and chaotic in detail, to be with us in our going and our coming in, in our rising up and in our lying down, in our moments of joy and our moments of sorrow, until the day when there shall be no sunset and no dawn.”

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We normally associate Dr. King with moments of glory on spiritual mountaintops and great dreams. But the time he felt the Divine Presence most deeply was at a time of confusion and despair. One night when he was home alone, he answered the phone. The caller told him unless he ceased his activity for civil rights, he would kill him and all his family.” Martin got off the phone and rested his head on the kitchen table. There he confessed his fear to God. And he asked God for a way out of this work so he would not look like a coward. While Martin sat there in fear, he felt the Divine Presence in the room. An heard a voice saying to him : “Martin, have courage. Stand up for justice. I am with you always.”

In this time of fear and confusion, may we feel that same Divine Presence.

We all know the hymn “Now Thank We All our God.” But do we know the context? The author is Martin Rinckart, a Lutheran pastor who was serving in the walled city of Eilenburgh in Saxony, Germany during the plague of 1637. It was very overcrowded with refugees from the 30 Year War. In the plague, all the clergy died except Rinckart. In that one year, he did over 4,000 funerals, including that of his wife. And yet, in the midst of all that devastation, he wrote these words:


“Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices, who wondrous things hath done, in whom this world rejoices; who from our mother’s arms hath blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.”

Martin Rinckart

When our children were little and all upset about something, we would tell them to stop and think of five things they are grateful for. (Sometimes our Caragh would react by saying “I hate five fings.” Perhaps in the spirit of Rinckart, we can stop and thank God for “five things.” And may one of those be the doctors, nurses, hospital workers and first responders who are saving lives at the risk of their own.

St. Paul wrote:

“Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends..For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a; 12-12

In a time when we have been sheltering at home for many days, perhaps alone, but perhaps with one or many more people, it might be good to remember the wisdom of Saint Paul. When stress builds, remember Love is patient and kind. It does not insist on its own way. It bears all things. Endures all things. Love never ends.

And in these confusing, anxious times, when we see dimly in a mirror, when we know so little of what might come, can we live in faith and hope and love? Knowing the greatest of these is love.

Our Diocese will keep offering compline via zoom every night as long as this pandemic continues. God bless you all.

In Christ,
+Doug

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The Bishop’s Christmas Message

Thanks for taking time out in a busy life to reflect with me on one of the many dimensions of Christmas.

This Advent much of my prayer has centered on the very different spiritual approaches of John the Baptist and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, knowing that we need both approaches.

John is the austere prophet who calls us all to, “Repent.” That is the way to get ready for the Messiah and the coming reign of God. Be honest about the darkness within ourselves and within our society so we can take in the Light of the World when he comes.

Mary, after her initial fear at encountering the angel Gabriel, is exuberant. In the midst of her pregnancy when she greets Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist, she proclaims “My soul magnifies the Lord, and rejoices in God my Savior.”

I’m reminded of a story told by another preacher about the rehearsal for the Christmas Pageant. The seven year old girl playing Mary is told, “Here, in the back of the church, you will be told by the angel you will bear God’s Son. Then, you go down the aisle to the front of the church to greet Elizabeth and you say, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” The little actress looks intently at the director and says, “Ok. I can do that. Just one question. How do you want me to go down the aisle? Should I walk or should I fly?”

In the Scriptures, after Mary magnifies the Lord, she recognizes that God is transforming her AND the whole world.

How was Mary being transformed? Perhaps the answer lies in that word “magnifies.” God acted in her life and Mary “magnified” it. She thought about it. She prayed about it. Later, the night Jesus was born, shepherds came to her with news from angels. We are told “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” The same thing happens when the young Jesus teaches in the temple. “His mother treasured all these things in her heart.”

We all know about magnifying. We know about dwelling on something that happens. Many years ago, our children had a book called THE HURT. It was about a little boy who was hurt by the words of another in school. Those words did hurt. But he kept thinking about them. Soon the “hurt” became a physical thing – a “blob” which filled his room, took up all his space. Eventually he talks about the hurt with his parents and it begins to shrink.

We all know how to magnify things. Perhaps we could join Mary in magnifying the many ways we are abundantly blessed. We could dwell on those realities until they fill our lives and transform us.

The spiritualities of John and Mary are very different. But we need both. And I believe they both come together in this powerful prayer by the Jesuit Daniel Berrigan. It is sometimes called the “Advent/Christmas/Epiphany Credo.”

It is NOT true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss. THIS is true – for God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.

It is NOT true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction of the earth. THIS is true – I have come that they may have life and that abundantly.

It is NOT true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever. THIS is true: Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, his name shall be called wonderful councilor, mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace.

So let us enter Christmas in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice. Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage – Jesus Christ, the Life of the World.

Merry Christmas.

+Doug

The Bishop’s Address: There is Already a Revolution Going On

Delegates to the 118th Diocesan Convention

Thank you for all your dedication to Jesus’ mission of mercy, compassion and hope. Thank you for the time, effort and love you put into the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement that is out to change the world from the nightmare it is for so many into the dream God has for it. Thank you. Your work and prayer means so much.

In June I was at the Tri-annual gathering of deacons throughout our country which was being held in Providence. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry was there and, as always, he rocked the house with his keynote address. At one point he was talking about St. Paul and how everywhere St. Paul went with the message of Jesus, there was a revolution. The crowd was riveted as Michael brought that revolution of love and resurrection to the present day.

Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry preaching at the Triennial for Deacons

He started shouting out, as only Michael can, to the bishops in the gathering. He would shout out the name of a bishop and say “can you imagine what a revolution would look like in …and then names the bishop’s diocese.” He did this for several bishops –“Bishop- name- can you imagine what a revolution would look like in – name the diocese.” The he gets to me. “Doug, can you imagine what a revolution would look like …wait, there is already a revolution going on in Western Massachusetts.”

When I die, please put that on my tombstone.

Michael never did go on to describe what is revolutionary about Western Mass. That leaves it open to me to speculate what he meant in this convention address.

Could it be the day to day commitment you all make to following Jesus? Could it be the hospital visits, the hours of sermon prep, the choir rehearsals, the bible studies, the pastoral counseling, the millions of prayers you say privately and publically, the loving care of church property, the reaching out to the lonely or hurting neighbor, the generous financial commitments you all make to the mission of the church? Faithfulness in this era is revolutionary. You inspire me.

Here is some other revolutionary activity in Western Mass. This is not an inclusive list. You will see other examples in the videos throughout the day.

In Western Mass, we dare to go where the people are and where the need is. We have chaplains to the Appalachian Trail – because if people are coming from around the world to walk from Georgia to Maine (or some part of it) you know they are searching for something.

We go to the challenged Main South neighborhood in Worcester through our Walking Together ministry – addressing the opioid crisis and addictions through Twelve Step programs, providing counseling and getting people the help they need, which includes a lot of prayer. And, sometimes, it includes saving lives with Narcan.

Our chaplains for the Women’s Correctional facility in Chicopee and to the Worcester House of Corrections fulfill Jesus’ revolutionary statement; when we visit the imprisoned we visit him. And we do that in another way with Reconciliation House in Webster – a facility for men coming out of jail with addiction issues.

Some revolutionary ideas are simple – like gathering veterans for lunch. A number of our churches do that once a week. Together we serve 500 vets every week. Some of those vets are doing fine and they come for the companionship. Others are literally living under bridges. And some suffer from PTSD and Moral Injury. I’m studying both those afflictions and I invite other church leaders to do so as well that we might listen with understanding and compassion. It is where our church is called to be.

There are many other revolutionary ministries that change lives like Lawrence House, outdoor liturgical communities, Laundry Love and others you will hear about in this convention.

But perhaps Michael Curry was referring to the revolution of his Revival with us last year. It was a phenomenal day with our celebrations in Pittsfield and Worcester – marked by inspirational music, witnesses to our faith and of course Michael reminding us that “if it is not about love, it is not about God.”

2018 video captures the spirit of #wmarevival

That revolution was not a one day event. We followed up on that day in many ways with Revival Year 2. And one of the lasting effects of Year 2 is a new spirit of collaboration in our diocese. For Easter Vigil this year, all the churches in the Berkshires got together in Lenox for one glorious service. The Church was packed and we had baptisms and confirmations and receptions. And then in Pittsfield on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, over 100 people from many different parishes gathered to put together 20,000 meals (yes, 20,000 ) for the hungry.

I invite you to consider continuing the revolution of Episcopal churches working together. This is not about mergers or closing churches. It is because we are stronger together. And it is a lot more fun. Christ Church Rochdale, Grace Church Oxford and St. Thomas Auburn are doing this right now. In the last few years the churches in Chicopee, North Grafton and Sutton, Wilbraham, West Springfield, Greenfield and Turners Falls have come together with their neighbors and it all looks like Resurrection.

A great example of this is the Small Church Summit which has had two very successful meetings of devoted followers of Jesus who have come together to share the challenges and opportunities of being small churches.

As a sign of my commitment to collaboration, how about this idea? For any neighboring parishes that want to do this, I volunteer to walk from one parish to another, ending with Evening Prayer, a meal and a discussion as to how those two parishes can work together. After all, you are in walking distance of each other!

Another collaboration that came out of revival is our Pilgrimage Project. Members of our Diocesan Council called every church in WMA and asked them about a ministry they are particularly good at. They range from food pantries to farmer’s markets to Celtic liturgies and many others. If your parish is considering a new ministry and want to know how to do it, you are invited to a Pilgrimage to one of the parishes that is already doing it. It is part of an ancient tradition – go to a holy place and grow in mission and spiritual depth. Those holy places are right here in revolutionary WMA. You will hear more about this in the next issue of our diocesan magazine.

I’m excited to announce here that Bishop Mark Beckwith is our new Missioner for Spirituality and Leadership. Mark brings great gifts to our diocese. He is spending time in our congregations, preaching and teaching.

The Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith
Photo: Diocese of Newark

This is all part of a big commitment we all have to parish renewal. In past Convention Addresses, I have invited us to “double down” on social justice, and to “double down on prayer.” Let’s add to that “double down on parish renewal. We have a whole range of ways to make this happen. Already 10 of our parishes have done Renewal Works, 5 are enrolled in the College for Congregational Development. One is doing Natural Church Development. 7 parishes are working with Peter Swarr and Sue Schneider in “Explorations into Christian Leadership.” And we have 11 coaches to work with parishes leaders to fulfill our hopes and dreams for the holy mission Jesus has given us. If you want to know more about any of these programs see Pam Mott. Yes, let’s double down on parish renewal.

Let’s collaborate with Episcopal Churches and with the Lutherans, Congregationalists, Methodists and anyone else that wants to share prayer and mission. Recently I was at a meeting with other “heads of churches” brought together by the Mass Council of Churches.

Heads of denominations gathered by the Massachusetts Council of Churches

We told stories of parishes working together across denominational lines. One example is that this year we are merging our popular Leadership Day with the UCC’s “Super Saturday” where there will be dozens of workshops that can be helpful to any UCC and Episcopal church and there will be a few particular to our Episcopal Church. When so much in our world is coming apart, we are coming together.

Michael Curry has given us a clear definition of the Church. I mentioned it earlier. “We are the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement that is out to change the world from the nightmare it is for so many, into the Dream God has for us.” Could our humble efforts at that be what he means by revolutionary?”

Religious scholar Thomas Cahill has written several books about key moments in the history of Western Civilization and how different communities contributed. He wrote The Hinges of History series, and The Gifts of the Jews. Twenty-five years ago he wrote, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe. He tells the stories of how monks formed communities of peace and prayer, with farms to feed the poor displaced by the many wars. Monks spent their lives copying the bible by hand to preserve God’s word for future generations. Without the efforts of the Church, what was known as the “Dark Ages” might never have ended.

The Church responded to the needs of the time. We have not always. When the General Convention of the Episcopal Church met in 1860, they said nothing about slavery or the impending Civil War.

We now have another “hinge of history” moment. We face a climate change crisis. And as the monks saved Western Civilization, it is our challenge to save the earth. Listen to the words of our Michael Curry and Bishop Elizabeth Eaton and Archbishop Jackelén, head of the Church of Sweden:

“…the link of unprecedented climate change to human action rests now on insurmountable scientific evidence. In human societies, these climate changes compound social injustices, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable among us. Yet the burdens are not borne by humans alone: acceleration in the disappearance of species of plants and animals underlies the intertwined struggles of all life on Earth, and the destructive exploitation of resources leaves a diminished planet for all time to come.”

A Call to Join in the Care of Creation From
The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Church of Sweden (Lutheran)

These religious leaders go on to say, “We claim the deep resources of our Christian faith to meet this challenge. We worship a God who created all that exists, who rejoices in its flourishing and blesses its diversity.”

They issued a call to action which involves: advocacy, education, prayer and collaboration. That sounds like the work that our Margaret Bullitt-Jonas has been doing for so long.

The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas giving a workshop on the spirituality of creation care

Now I invite us to make a commitment to joining her in this earth saving work. One way to do that is for all our clergy and lay preachers to make a commitment to preach about creation care.  And to do so in the spirit of Michael Curry who says, “We acknowledge the dire urgency of this moment not through the lenses of despair, but through lenses of hope and determination.” We will be providing resources on how to do this.

We have a public health crisis of gun violence in our country. Over 100 people a day die from gun violence in our beloved USA. Our diocese is acknowledged by the network called Bishops United Against Gun Violence as a leader in this cause.

Bishops Beckwith, Fisher and Gates standing with youth at Smith & Wesson corporate headquarters in Springfield, MA

One of The Episcopal Church’s top priorities is racial reconciliation. Our Beloved Community Committee is working hard at education about white privilege. Several of our churches had services marking the 400th anniversary of the arrival of African slaves in our country. They came from Ghana where we have a companion relationship. Friends, we have a long way to go in this work before we can be anywhere near revolutionary, but we are committed.

And we have a long way to go in being revolutionary in standing with immigrants and refugees – check all the references in the Bible about “welcoming the stranger” for why we do this. A shout out to Grace, Amherst for their embrace of a refugee family and for their support of the Congregational Church as they provide sanctuary for Lucio Perez, a father of four who has worked and paid taxes here for over 20 years. I went to the ICE offices with several UCC ministers and a rabbi to advocate for him. Thank you to our many churches that have signs saying “immigrants are welcome here.”

The mission before us is daunting which is why we need prayer and one another. Rachel Held Evans, a wonderful young Episcopal writer who died all too soon this past year, writes “The only way to work for justice in a sustainable way is to be rooted in the nourishing soul of contemplation and community.”

When we do that, really do that, we recognize God’s presence among us. And here I want to thank our brothers and sisters who tell me I am too political. They tell me we should be about saving souls. In my heart I believe this work IS about saving souls. But I do thank you for faithfully calling us to a life of prayer. If we lose our center in Christ, our work for creation, addressing gun violence, welcoming immigrants and refugees, promoting racial reconciliation becomes about power instead of following Jesus who has merged loving God and loving neighbor.

A few weeks ago a video about a boy anxious about school and what his parents did about it went viral. They dressed him up as a different super hero every day.

@ Ke and Lo Toys and Trips

I think St. Paul would like that video because he had a similar idea. He told the early Christians to “put on Christ.”

Galatians 3:27 “As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

Ephesians 6:10 “Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God.”

Romans 13:14 “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”

And 75 times we are told we are “in Christ.”

Prayer, deep, sincere prayer leads to a resurrected life. We know this from theologian Bruce Springsteen. You knew I was going to get Springsteen into this address somewhere. In “My City in Ruins” he sings:

Now with these hands, with these hands, with these hands, I pray Lord.

I pray for the strength Lord.

I pray for the faith Lord.

I pray for your love Lord.

I pray for the strength Lord.

I pray for your Love Lord.

And then he sings “Come on, Rise Up.” Eleven times. “Come on, Rise up.”

You see, praying leads to resurrection – for our souls, for our society, for God’s creation.

My spiritual director often says to me “Doug, you are capable of more than you think you are.” And I say to all of us in the revolutionary diocese of Western Massachusetts – “We are capable of more than we think we are.” And if you don’t believe my spiritual director, believe Saint Paul, who in his second letter to Timothy wrote, “We have not been given a spirit of fear, but a spirit of love and power.”

We say that every time we pray Evening Prayer. It’s 9 am but let’s pray these words.

“Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the Church, and in Christ Jesus for ever and ever.”

AMEN.