Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter! A service of remembrance for Kathleen on Pentecost

Happy Easter! Christos anesti! Christ is risen! I have good news: there will be a service of remembrance for Kathleen on Sunday, May 27, at 4 PM at Walteria United Methodist Church. 3646 Newton Street, Torrance, CA
90505. click here for a map. 

May 27 is also the feast of Pentecost, the “birthday of the church,” a holiday that Kathleen loved because she dearly loved the church. You are warmly invited to attend. This will be the third year since Kathleen died, and went home to God.

In the Orthodox tradition, in which I was baptized, it is customary to have a special memorial for a departed loved one on the third anniversary of their passing.
When Kathleen and I were in Thessalonica, following in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul with Bishop Mary Ann Swenson and a boat load of Christians, we saw Greek women leaving a church and giving passers-by pieces of bread. We were curious and asked what this was about.

“This is what Greek widows do three years after their husbands die,” a Greek man told us. “They bake bread and gather at the church for prayer and to console each other. And then they leave the church and share their bread with everybody.”

Sharing one’s bread, the bread of grief and comfort, with the world: what a fitting way to remember and honor a loved one, especially during this special time of Easter, when we recall the suffering and rejoice in the resurrection of the one who shared his bread and his life with the world.

The best way I can think of to “make bread” and honor Kathleen’s memory is to start a fund in her name at Walteria UMC—a small, but mighty church she loved dearly.

The fund will help the homeless, and also the children at a school that was recently started at Walteria. This school was something that Kathleen dreamed about, and that Pastor Diane has helped make a reality with the support of the congregation.

If you can’t make it to the memorial, but would like to honor Kathleen, please feel free to make a contribution to this fund and let Pastor Diane know whether you want your donation to help the school or the homeless or both.

Kathleen loved children, and she loved the homeless. I’m sure she would be pleased by the idea of this fund.

I also think Kathleen would be pleased that I am married to Jill Shook, a “Free” Methodist woman who also cares deeply about children and the homeless.
To honor Kathleen, I’d like to share words from a sermon called “Beyond Our Fears” that she gave at Walteria UMC on the second Sunday after Easter in 2006:

We are a resurrection people! We feel the power of the life of Jesus flowing through us whenever we care for each other and work on behalf of peace, justice and compassion.
When the young people were demonstrating on behalf of fair immigration laws, Jesus was alive.

When there was an outpouring of donations and volunteers after the Midwestern tornados, Jesus was alive.

When a Christian shares their faith story with someone who has lost their way, Jesus is alive.
We celebrate Christ’s life among us as we worship and offer daily prayers of thanksgiving and concern for others.
We want our children to know Jesus as their Good Shepherd, and grow up to be loving and strong in the world. We long for our church to be a light of hope in the midst of our community. And we want to stand for values of openness, inclusion and welcome in a world where more doors are being closed. And we want to be people who have strength to face what is genuinely fearful in life; we don't want to be manipulated by the fear mongers of our age. We want to be ready to face the challenge to eliminate poverty, hunger and war, because we know it threatens all God's children, here and around the world.
Like the role of the Shepherd, what we Christians are doing here is not at the center of society. Being a Christian, making a commitment to the life of the Spirit of Jesus Christ in an age of anxiety, is not an easy or glamorous job. We are making a courageous commitment by saying that we believe in faith, hope, and love, because that’s how we’re going to make the world a better and safer place to live, day by day.
Yes, Kathleen, we are a resurrection people. We carry on your work, and we do it with joy, knowing that we do not do it alone. You are with us, and Jesus is with us, and the Living God is with us, guiding, encouraging and helping us….

Since Kathleen loved children, I'd like to end with an image of a child that Jill and I encountered on Palm Sunday. This little girl was part of the Palm Sunday Peace Parade and carried a sign that warmed our hearts. It simply said: "No More War."

I know that Jesus and God are smiling.... Happy Easter from Jill and Anthony.....

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