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April 3 Minister's Message

Updated: Apr 8


“…as (the disciples) were watching, (Jesus) was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” Acts 1 


Thinking we know everything, or acting like we know it all, can make us feel safe. Consider how much time every day we spend on our phones, the internet, social media, television, or catching up on whatever passes for the news. We gather stories around us like a cozy blanket on a cold night, as if constructing our preferred narrative can make everything ok.


I wonder if our addiction to the noise and chatter limits our capacity to experience the resurrected life Easter promises us all. In this first week of Easter, the appearances of Jesus to his disciples began: appearing to the grieving disciples behind locked doors, encountering Jesus as he walked with two of them along the road to Emmaus, cooking fish and eating with the disciples at the shore. Forty days later, after multiple experiences of the resurrected Christ who moved among them in recognizable form, Jesus ascended into heaven.


The disciples struggled greatly to reconcile their former understanding of reality with their new experience of a transformed Jesus among them after death. Then the final ascension to heaven from earthly Jesus to Risen Christ left them awestruck.


This Sunday in worship we will explore the difference between our need for concrete evidence that determines our reality, and God’s offer of transcendent mystery that elevates the ordinary to the sublime. The resurrection of Jesus from death to life points us beyond the tangible realities of daily life, towards the mystery of faith.


As it turns out, we humans are hard-wired with a need for awe, wonder and mystery. One researcher, psychologist Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley, describes our need for awe and wonder in this way. He writes: “Awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world.”


Researchers now say that whether a person is religious or not, it seems that we rise to our best selves when we regularly pursue awe and wonder. We transcend the ordinary in multiple ways, including participation in nature or listening to certain kinds of music.

 

Just for today, pray for that moment of awe that may elevate you from the ordinary to the holy. Pay attention, for mystery can reveal itself through a creature in your yard, a conversation with a friend, or some natural phenomenon that can leave you breathless. This experience of awe opened for me this past week when I observed the Indian River lagoon at sunrise. She lay still and serene as a sleeping child. The experience of mystery may reveal itself to thousands of people next week, who seek awe and wonder through the total eclipse of the sun.

 

For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, awe and mystery reveal themselves always through the mystery of our faith. “Christ has died, Christ is Risen, Christ will come again.” Awe, glory.

 

God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,

 

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland

Senior Minister, The Community Church of Vero Beach

Livestream at ccovb.org

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