FROM DARKNESS INTO DAWN (EASTER)

EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 17TH

I walked from darkness into dawn
and the moon had kindly shined upon
this traveler with its gentle glow,
until it faded and then went low.

The sky reflected beautiful hues
from darker purple to brighter blue
and shining yellow from softer peach.

All nature seemed intent to teach
a subtle but profound insight…
How can I live, so that I might
follow in their sweet surrender?

Reflecting light, remaining tender,
while gradually learning to let go.

Then, in adoration bending low
as the sun breaks forth in bright array
and ushers in a brand-new day.


Blessed Easter, dear friends.

(Poem and photos by Karen, March 2022)

MENTORING MOMENTS – WAITING (THE EASTER VIGIL)

THE VIGIL OF EASTER, SATURDAY, APRIL 16TH

Today we come to Jesus, our beloved mentor and friend, and find an empty seat. He is not here. We know why. We know his terrible story, his incredible suffering, his excruciating death. Our sad and reverent silence is filled with grief, fear, guilt, and loss. And yet, our quiet vigil also holds hope, expectation, awe, mystery, and a tiny bit of joy. For we know that within the tomb, an amazing transformation is under way. While we wait, Jesus is being recreated into our glorious, living, resurrected savior who will soon emerge from the grave!

And so we pray…

WHILE WE WAIT…

For light from darkness
for words from silence
for peace from despair
for joy from sorrow
for life from death.

Transform us, too.
Enlighten us, too.
Recreate us, too.
Unbind us, too.

And then…
Resurrect us, too, God.

Fashion us into new life
beyond our imagination
but envisioned by yours.
Amen.


Photo by Memento Media on Unsplash

MENTORING MOMENTS – TODAY YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE

GOOD FRIDAY, APRIL 15TH
A TIME OF BLESSING

On this Good Friday, we sadly gather around Jesus to hear of his last hours on earth.

Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with me. When we came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified me there with the criminals, one on my right and one on my left. 

He pauses for a moment, taking a deep breath, then continues…

One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding me and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” I replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:32-33, 39-43, NRSV, revised*)

As you sit quietly with Jesus at your side, reflecting on his words, is there anything you would like to ask him? What final words of blessing would you like to say to him?

Reflection:

Even as he is painfully and slowly dying, Jesus gives yet another blessing. He promises this criminal that he will soon be with Jesus in paradise. Even in his darkest terrible moment, Jesus never stops loving, never stops forgiving, never stops giving hope to us all.

Thank you, Jesus.


Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.

MENTORING MOMENTS – FROM DESPERATION TO SURRENDER

(Garden of Gethsemane, Israel)

MAUNDY THURSDAY, APRIL 14TH
A TIME OF SHARED STRUGGLE

We gather around Jesus in somber silence today, for we know what is to come. Jesus soberly begins…

We went to a place called Gethsemane; and I said to my disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” I took with me Peter and James and John, and I began to be distressed and agitated. And I said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.” And going a little farther, I threw myself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from me. I said, “Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.” I came and found them sleeping; and I said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again I went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more I came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to me. I came a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” (Mark 14:32-42, NRSV, revised*)

Sit in the silence for a few minutes and place yourself next to Jesus as he prays. What would you like to do for him? How do you feel as you consider his anguish and your helplessness? Quietly remain in his presence as his gentle, listening friend, the only one who has stayed awake. What do you hear him saying to you?

Reflection:

During some trying times in my life, God has always helped to gradually move me from experiencing grief to receiving grace. I especially noticed this when my prayers slowly transformed from desperation to surrender… from fighting to acceptance… from fear into peace. I imagine that you also have experienced this in some way.

We find that our prayers evolve…

~ Please, God, keep my marriage intact… Help my family through this divorceWe will find new life in you.
~ Please, God, let it not be cancerHelp me to stay strong… I will rest in your perfect love no matter what is ahead.
~ Please, God, keep my loved one alive… Keep her from pain… I entrust her to you.

The prayers of Jesus in Gethsemane touch us profoundly, because we more clearly understand how he questioned, faced, and endured his terrible trials as a human person like the rest of us. He could not avoid pain, sadness, despair, agony, or even death. He had no superpower or strength beyond human capacity. Jesus truly suffered, agonized, wept, and pleaded with God in Gethsemane. Just like we would.

What Jesus did have – and what we all can have – is his deep trust in God. He found the courage and strength to endure everything, because he knew that God was with him and perfectly loved him. Through his earnest, desperate prayers, Jesus opened his heart to God. And God filled Jesus with all that he needed, including acceptance… and then peace.

In our trials, we may not know what goodness God will bring to us, but we do know that God is good. We may not understand the hardship, but we do feel God’s presence with us in the storm. We may not feel ready to bear the difficult days ahead, but we do know that God is already preparing us and God is always going before us.

We may not know the Why, but we can trust the Who.



Photo by Stacey Franco on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.

MENTORING MOMENTS – A PRAYER FOR US ALL

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13TH
A TIME OF INSTRUCTION

In this painful, dreadful week, we sadly anticipate what is to come. As we gather with Jesus, his eyes are sad, his countenance earnest. He asks us to listen as he prays for us, and that is all we will do today. Jesus looks up to heaven and begins:

Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.

I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Sit in the silence and dwell in his love, his words, his presence.


Photo by Marc Ignacio on Unsplash
Bible verses taken from https://www.biblegateway.com

MENTORING MOMENTS – GO AND DO LIKEWISE

TUESDAY, APRIL 12TH
A TIME FOR A STORY

This familiar story has a way of deeply touching our souls, inviting us to expand in love, to extend our idea of what it means to love our neighbor. Jesus begins…

Just then a lawyer stood up to test me. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” I said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And I said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”

But wanting to justify himself, he asked me, “And who is my neighbor?” I replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” I said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37, NRSV, revised*)

As you sit quietly with Jesus, what do you sense his invitation is for you today? Is there a particular person you are struggling to love? What is your greatest challenge in this story? Which is more difficult for you to share in order to help others – your financial resources, your abilities, or your time? Let the Spirit guide your heart for a few moments.

Reflection:

Jim and I are so fortunate to live in a neighborhood with people who are easy to love, who cooperate, and who try to get along well. We find this a great blessing, because we once lived in another area where this was not the case (two neighbors found fault with our property lines, even after both parties had the lots surveyed and learned that we were correct). Jim and I first tried to befriend, then to be helpful, then to be kind, and then just to peacefully appease the ones who were giving us trouble, but the situation never changed. Living there was very uncomfortable, because we finally just tried to avoid or ignore the difficult people bordering our yard. My spirit saddens when I recall this feeling.

And these are the neighbors Jesus tells us to love.

We are called to love the people who are different from us, but also those who differ with us.

This story of the Good Samaritan so clearly shows us who are neighbors are. The ones we are especially called to love are the ones who are especially difficult to love. The ones we encounter when the time isn’t convenient. The ones whose beliefs, values, or perspectives differ. The ones who need our mercy beyond our usual or easier acts of kindness.

Isn’t it interesting that we never learn how the injured man responded to the Samaritan’s kindness? That part of the story does not matter to Jesus. Jim wrote notes, took gifts of bread, and even shoveled snow from our neighbors’ sidewalks. Our relationship never changed. The outcome of our kindness does not matter. We are called to be kind, to show mercy, to be generous, to be loving to our neighbor – with no expectation but to serve and honor Jesus.

Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:40, NRSV)



Dear Reader Friends, in my ongoing effort to promote peace, nonviolence, and goodwill for one another, I will not abide comments that do not. Thank you for understanding.



Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.

MENTORING MOMENTS – UNBIND HIM

MONDAY, APRIL 11TH
A TIME OF COMFORT

Today we gather for one more word of comfort from our mentor, Jesus. He begins by remembering the time when his friend Lazarus had died. As Jesus was heading to Bethany, Martha, the sister of Lazarus, met him on the way. He shares the story with us…

I said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to me, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” I said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to me, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

Then I, …greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. I said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to me, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” I said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And I looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When I had said this, I cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. I said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:23-27, 38-44 , NRSV, revised*)

If you have time, sit with this story for a few minutes and imagine yourself as Lazarus. What sensations do you feel? What are you thinking? How would it feel to come out of the tomb into the light of day? How would your life change from that point on?

Reflection:

Here in the resurrection of Lazarus, we get a glimpse of what was ahead for Jesus, and one day, for us. This Holy Week, as the terrible crucifixion of Jesus looms before us, and we must await the beautiful resurrection, this story of Jesus bringing Lazarus to life serves as a present comfort we can cling to, here and now.

Martha knew of the resurrection on the last day, but in this story, Jesus let her witness it that very day. I have often written of this before, but this is worth repeating: our salvation is for here and now. One of the best things I have even been told were words from a dear friend during a terrible trial in my life. “There is always a resurrection, Karen. Your life will look and be different, but it will be new life.” In many incredible ways, his words have proven true.

Our faith helps us to see the smaller daily resurrections, while also giving us the hope of our complete, glorious, and final resurrection. New life, perhaps even richer life, comes after every trial and sorrow during our earthly lives, and we will one day enjoy even better days. We are already being made new. So, for me today, Jesus’s words, “Unbind him, and let him go,” touch my soul deeply. We can shed all that binds and encumbers us today. We are meant to live our lives in that freedom from fear, in the unbinding of all that would keep us from truly living lives of joy and peace.

The story is never over. There will always be a resurrection.



(Throughout the Lenten season, my blogger-writer friend, Charlotte, has kindly shared my posts on her site. Thank you, Charlotte! Here is a link to her Hope Seeker site, a good place to find other inspirational posts: https://charlotteannrobinson.com/)



Photo by Steven Erixon on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.

MENTORING MOMENTS – BECOMING A PEACEMAKER

FRIDAY, APRIL 8TH
A TIME OF BLESSING

We come for our Friday blessing from our mentor Jesus today. We may be noticing that within some of these blessings there is also a calling – but that calling then returns the blessing. Today, Jesus’s words are few but profound.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9 NRSV)

As you sit with this blessing, you might gratefully think of the peacemakers in your life. As you think of people of peace, what visible characteristics do you notice? What inner qualities are evident in them? Can you recall a time when you were a peacemaker? What were the challenges? What were your strengths? How might this blessing be a calling for you today? How might this calling be a blessing for you today?

Reflection:

Years ago, I worked as a customer service representative for the phone company. Quite often, I would receive a call from an angry customer, obviously frustrated with an issue, who began the conversation in a tirade before I had a chance to speak. I then would need to be the peacemaker – remaining gracious, kind, and gentle as I tried to help. This was my responsibility as a customer service representative, so I had been well-trained on how to respond, I had the resources to help, and most of the time, I truly wanted to be the helpful peacemaker. But here is the main reason I remained a peacemaker in those situations:

At any time, without my knowledge, my supervisor could remotely listen in on my conversations! 🙂

No, I wasn’t a saint who naturally could keep calm, speak softly, seek understanding, and get past the anger to help the caller. I just recognized that I was the representative of the company – and the company was observing.

Perhaps this could be our useful practice as we try to live as representatives of Christ. In our thoughts, words, and actions, we can bear in mind that Jesus is quietly observing us, too. And through his Spirit, he also provides the resources we need, the wisdom we seek, and the countenance we can keep for our times of frustration and trial. We can be peacemakers as we remember that we are children of God, ever helped and never alone, in every conflict and confusion.

I am certain you also have experienced that special serenity when you were able to remain calm, diffuse someone’s anger, and resolve an issue. Any peacemaking we can do will bring peace to ourselves as well. When we can bring opposing sides together, refrain from “adding fuel to the fire”, and work to bring peace, people will begin to recognize that this visible peace is coming from beyond ourselves. Through this peace revealed in gentleness, kindness, a non-anxious spirit, and a willingness to listen and learn, they will know that we are children of God.

“When things change inside you, things change around you.” —Unknown


Photo by Ramiro Martinez on Unsplash
Bible verse found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

MENTORING MOMENTS – TURNING THE TABLES

THURSDAY, APRIL 7TH
A TIME OF SHARED STRUGGLE

When we meet with Jesus today, he first shares a little background information. In the story we now remember on Palm Sunday, Jesus had just entered Jerusalem on a donkey with the crowds gathered around him – shouting their praises, honoring him, and claiming him as their prophet and messiah. Imagine their surprise as Jesus begins telling us what happened next:

Then I entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and I overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. I said to them, “It is written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’;
    but you are making it a den of robbers.”

(Matthew 21:12-13, NRSV, revised*)

In these quiet moments, place yourself inside the temple. As you see Jesus turning over the tables and seats, what would be your reaction? Would you be shocked? Would you be grateful? Would you stay to see what he does next, or would you run? Would you be surprised that Jesus could become angry? What might Jesus be revealing to you in this story?

Reflection:

The money changers and dove sellers were not there to help people worship God, but to make a profit. The temple had become a place where the people were cheated, the poor were exploited, and worship was restricted to those who could afford the monetary exchanges and purchases. We can imagine how frustrated and angry Jesus could have been, that a place intended for prayer and worship had become a place that hurt and cheated people.

Where would Jesus find fault with our religions and churches today? I have been learning about the ways in which various evolutions of Christianity and religious hierarchies have often forgotten the purposes of Christ and forged their own. One could write many posts about these issues. But I believe that real change always begins with us as individuals, so I generally try to scrutinize and critique myself first.

Which tables in my life would Jesus want to turn – or even turn over? What changes can I make, what better ways will I find to share God’s love, and to help people to know, thank, and worship God, too?

According to www.theidioms.com, the meaning of the phrase, turn the tables includes “change your position with respect to someone else” and “turn an unfavorable circumstance into one of favor.”

I easily recognize some table turning I can do. As Christ’s representative, I can change my position with respect to others by doing more reaching out along with welcoming in. I can refrain from judging but also begin uplifting and encouraging. I can expand my prayers of concern for our world and people into actual advocacy and support. Unlike the money changers and dove sellers, I can provide helpful service without considering any potential benefit for me. I can humbly try to carry the spirit and posture of a servant as I walk this life with others.

How might I turn an unfavorable circumstance into one of favor? I can try to find and foster any good, healing, and beneficial outcomes from trying times or terrible circumstances. I can regard the sadness and tragedies of the world as an invitation to help where I can, to live differently, to work for the betterment of all people. Instead of lingering in self-pity, I can regard my own difficulties as opportunities to gain wisdom, strengthen my trust in God, open my awareness of the need for change, and feel the comfort and healing of God’s ever-present care.

I can cling to the God of all hope and peace, the One who can turn every table, the One who can make all things new…

the God we all are meant to worship together in love.



Photo by Who’s Denilo ? on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted by Karen into first-person.

MENTORING MOMENTS – ALL ABOUT LOVE

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 6TH
A TIME OF INSTRUCTION

As we gather for our time of instruction, Jesus invites us to come closer, holding his arms out as if to embrace us all. He looks upon us with tenderness as he begins his story…

When the Pharisees heard that I had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked a question to test me. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” I said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40, NRSV, revised*)

Spend a few minutes in the silence of Christ’s presence, simply loving and being loved.

Reflection:

Jesus gives us these three ways to love God – with all of our heart, our soul, and our mind. We also have three ways to know God – as our Creator, as Christ Jesus, and as Spirit! We can thus find God everywhere – in creation, in humanity, and in ourselves. How might we love our Triune God with all that we have and all that we are? Loving God with our heart, soul, and mind might include these ways…

I sense that loving God with all my heart is like the love we hold for those dear to us. We long for and enjoy God’s companionship, we hold God as precious, we cherish God deeply, we hope to please God, and we serve to answer God’s needs.
~ We love God the Creator through loving all of creation. We tend and appreciate our world and its universe, working to preserve the glory God made in it.
~ We love God in Christ through loving all of humanity. We serve and care for one another with compassion and kindness.
~ We love God the Spirit through loving our inner being. We nurture our souls with practices and silences that enrich and inspire.

Loving God with all my soul is like the faithful love and trust we keep within the mystery and magnificence. We embrace and share the love of God as much as we are humanly able, we love with deep surrender and humility, we seek God more than our personal needs.
~ We love God the Creator by spending time in nature, praising God and holding respect and gratitude for the earth, worshiping God by honoring what God has made.
~ We love God in Christ as we celebrate diversity and seek Christ’s presence in everyone. We gather in community to love and serve as Christ would in our world today.
~ We love God in Spirit through welcoming God’s abiding presence, living our lives in faith and trust, tending our spirituality with practices and prayers, and absorbing God’s love within us and letting it emanate from us.

Loving God with all my mind is like the love we honor through our thoughts, information, and insights. We try to keep God first in our decisions, our choices, our plans.
~We love God the Creator as we seek the wisdom of each season, observe the lessons found in nature, and learn new ways to preserve and protect our planet.
~ We love God in Christ as we increase our knowledge of the life and teachings of Jesus so that we may more closely follow his example in our relationships. We learn to share his words of wisdom, encouragement, and insight with those around us.
~ We love God in Spirit by allowing time for mindfulness and contemplation. We remain vigilant about the information we are absorbing, choose what is pleasing and worthy of our thoughts, use difficult lessons as tools for wisdom and maturity.

You may think of other ways to love our omnipresent God with everything we have and are. As we keep deepening in love for God, the instruction of Jesus to love your neighbor as yourself will more generously and naturally flow. Our love will become more complete, perfect, and whole as a natural result of God’s generous and gracious love for us – and our love in return.


Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash
Bible verses found at https://www.biblegateway.com/

*The name of Jesus and his pronouns have been adapted into first-person by Karen.