Happy Easter! Christ is Risen! I thought I knew what I was going to write about for this Easter Sunday blog post, then Henry called me on Spy Wednesday morning and, with just a few words, changed things for me.
“Spy Wednesday” is the old name for the Wednesday of Holy Week. It references Judas Iscariot as a spy for the chief priests. On Wednesday, the gospel reading tells of Judas going to the chief priests and offering to betray Jesus to them. They are pleased, because they want to silence Jesus, but don’t want to arrest him when he’s out teaching, with a crowd around him that could turn into a mob. They prefer something quieter. So Judas, who knows Jesus’ schedule and his habits, arranges to let them know when they can get to him quietly—which turns out to be in the Garden of Gethsemane the next day.
So what place does Spy Wednesday have in an Easter post? There would be no Easter, no resurrection, without betrayal and crucifixion. There is no new life without the death of an old life. There is no triumph without challenge, no success without struggle.
On Spy Wednesday eve (the Tuesday of Holy Week), Henry got a call from St. Philip’s Church, saying that they’d been notified that 25 refugees were about to be delivered by ICE, which has gotten into the habit of dumping busloads of people on the doorsteps of churches and other nonprofits and expecting us to pick up the work and the cost of feeding and housing these refugees and asylum seekers, then help them get to family or friends by bus, train, or plane. (Yes, I have strong opinions about this abdication of federal responsibility!)
Henry went over to church and spent the evening using his language and administrative skills to minister to these refugees and translate for a team of volunteers. These refugees have little idea what lies ahead of them, but they have certainly spent the past few weeks facing challenge after challenge and struggle after struggle. Now, they face a new life in a new land. It’s resurrection, but it comes with its own set of challenges. They don’t know the language, the systems, the cultures. They don’t know if their applications for asylum will eventually be accepted.
Early on Spy Wednesday morning, Henry went back to church—on his way down to Nogales to spend the day translating for a team of doctors!—to check in with how things were going. He called me as he was leaving church and told me that those families had gathered together all their Mexican pesos and handed them to Henry for use in his ministry at the border with those who were still waiting their chance to cross.
It brought us both to tears. These people have virtually nothing—but they have faith. They have trust enough in God (and in this new land, God help them!) to offer what little money they have for the sake of those who follow behind. They have been crucified. They have risen. They are trusting in God’s generosity and abundance, and offering some of their own. They know there are many others still being crucified.
Like Jesus, we may be betrayed. Like Jesus, we may be crucified. But there is always, always a resurrection, of one sort or another. Every day provides us with the opportunity to choose new life. In this Easter season, how can you choose new life?
This brought me to tears as well. What am I going to do, going forward? Well, that will unfold but during Holy Week I finally got a bit better organized about my prayer life. When I had been to see my accountant, on the front counter they had a few calendar books for 2019 that they didn’t need. I took one to be my prayer list book and each day I look to see who I’m praying for, and write their names (or situations’ names) in for the next day if it’s continuing. So how will I choose new life? You know the saying, “Be careful what you pray for because there will be an answer.”
A blessed Easter to you, Rosana! I am glad that your response to this post is to confirm your commitment to life in Christ and a strengthening of your prayer life. Yes, be careful, and also be committed! When God invites us into something, God also prepares us to handle it!
My new life here in Walla Walla has left a lot of precious things behind including worshiping at Good Shepherd. I’m sitting here remembering Passion week intimately because of my Altar Guild involvement and I’m missing it so much. But I have a new life being revealed that includes moving into my totally renovated home on Friday this week. Such a long journey and process but Jesus has lead me through each and every step. I can’t tell you how many times things have fallen together, be it materials, professionals needed, finances and my personal strength to be the ‘project manager’! God is good and I’ve never felt such massive gratitude in all my life.
Praise be to God!
Love you and miss you too, Nila
Happy Easter, Nila! I hear you about missing the precious elements in prior churches; I pray that you will continue to find many blessings in your new home–and moving into a totally renovated home on Good Friday certainly seems like one of them! I’m so glad that God guided so much of this aspect of your journey. May your Eastertide be filled with even more gifts and gratitude!