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Author Archives: Melinda Gapen

On the Road (Again)

The Road to Emmaus is an understated, but beloved, post-Resurrection account of the Risen Christ.

It beautifully interweaves distinctive characteristics of the Gospel of Luke, for example the Holy Spirit is the force that drives Jesus further down the road towards places of hospitality and shared table fellowship – or road trips, friendly faces, and yummy food!

The Road to Emmaus happens on the evening of the Resurrection.

There are two disciples on a seven-mile road trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus. These seven-miles might not sound adventurous, or be considered a legitimate road trip, but it was on foot alone and wearing sandals in a hot, sandy desert. We do not know the purpose for their road trip, but perhaps the disciples found it therapeutic; similar to how a Jeep, a dirt country road, and the radio turned up is for me.

These disciples, during these seven-miles, were not on the road to Emmaus alone but also grief recovery.

These disciples are processing the grief of witnessing the arrest, passion, crucifixion, and death of their beloved rabbi and friend.

These disciples are processing the grief of hope lost, for they had hoped Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Christian Responsibility: COVID-19

Hello Beloved Trinity Community,

The COVID 19 pandemic has and will continue to impact the local to global communities, including Trinity and our individual lives.

Although this pandemic is unprecedented within our lifetime, it is not within recorded history. Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), scientist, and medical professionals are building upon the historical past and scientific developments to “stop the spread” and “flatten the curve”. These professionals are pleading for all persons to limit their risk of exposure and their risk of unknowingly exposing our neighbors.

We have heard their pleas: wash hands, sanitize commonly touched surfaces, and wear a mask in public. Our national recommendation is to social distance and isolate. Our states have “Stay at Home” orders.

Although people are frustrated and lamenting these restrictions, these are effective and were similarly utilized during the Black Plague, Spanish Flu, and more recently Polio.

Additionally, these restrictions may overwhelm people who desire to contribute towards the cause, question the appropriate Christian response, and discern their available options.

Similar to healthcare professionals, spiritual professionals build upon the guidance of those who came before and scripture to discern the faithful response. Thankfully, Martin Luther provided such guidance. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2020 in Pastoral Letters

 

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“Doubting Thomas”: Science & Religion

I have a deep appreciation for our scripture, known as “Doubting Thomas”.

The disciple Thomas is forever identified by this moment of so-called ‘doubt’ that is often embraced as a simple narrative about a contentious relationship between said doubt and faith.

And yet, it is not. The narrative before us is more complex and layered. It echoes with a truth that our world, our lives, and thus our faith does not exist in black-and-white alone, but rather upon an infinite gray-scale.

This complexity, and my appreciation, is rooted in a respect for the disciple named Thomas.

One. Thomas is practical and willing to speak difficult truth.
After the death of Lazarus, Jesus decides to return towards Jerusalem, and thus his own passion, crucifixion, and death. Although the disciples attempt to discourage Jesus, he is determined. It was Thomas, perhaps mimicking Eeyore, who said “Fine. Let us go to Jerusalem and die with him”.

Two. Thomas is not too proud, or ego-sensitive, to admit a lack of understanding and to ask questions.
Prior to Jesus’ arrest, he foretells of his death, resurrection, and ascension to the disciples. Although the disciples are confused, it is Thomas alone who raises his hand to pose questions; thus confessing his own lack of knowledge and further seeking to understand.

Three. Thomas does not demand more than the other disciples. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Easter Evening on the Road to Emmaus

Please note scripture is posted below.

It is the evening of the Resurrection. Two disciples are traveling the seven miles to Emmaus while processing Jesus’ arrest, passion, crucifixion, and death. They are grieving not only the death of their rabbi (teacher) and beloved friend, but also their hope that Jesus had been the long-awaited Messiah to ‘save us’. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2020 in Devotions/Reflections

 

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A Different Easter

Alleluia! He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

This is our proclamation of the Resurrection on Easter morning!
And yet, this Easter is different.

  • We postponed the Community Easter Egg Hunt.
  • We postponed the Congregational Breakfast.
  • We are not gathered together within the church building adorning our Sunday best, including Easter dresses and suits, for an elaborate worship experience adorned in lilies and tulips.

Perhaps, you are in comfortable jammies, drinking coffee, and listening along.
I hope you are.

And yet, THIS might be the most authentic Resurrection morning of our lifetime.

As read on Facebook:
“Maybe, for once, we celebrate Easter differently. Maybe, we celebrate the Resurrection just as the Disciples did: Alone, in the silence, hoping the faith outweighs the fear.” (Casey Kerins).

After the arrest, passion, and crucifixion of Jesus the Christ, the disciples are frightened.

We are frightened Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2020 in Sermons

 

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Easter Vigil: What? Why?

20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb… 6Then Simon Peter … went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple … also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.
11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. (John 20: 1-18)

 

The Easter Prayer Vigil is conducted on Saturday evening within darkness, recalling Jesus’ frightened disciples gathered in despair and hidden within a dark room.

However, the Easter Prayer Vigil begins with the blessing and lighting of the (large) paschal candle which symbolizes Jesus’ journey from death into life. This paschal candle will be lit throughout the Easter season and on Sundays with baptisms. The reason is that baptism is our death to sin and the old self, in order to be raised into new life with Christ.

The Easter Prayer Vigil continues Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2020 in Devotions/Reflections

 

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Jesus’ Final Mandates (Maundy Thursday)

Again, welcome to the Great Three Days of Jesus’ journey from death into life.

It begins with Maundy Thursday.
Maundy is derived from the Latin for mandate (command).

It is on this evening that the church universal reflects on the three final mandates that Jesus the Christ gave to his disciples during their final Passover, final dinner, final evening before his arrest, trial, conviction, passion, crucifixion, and death.

The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) differ from the Gospel of John.
Since our assigned scripture is John and offers two of the mandates, let us begin with it.

Jesus and the disciples gather for the Passover celebration.

Foot washing was a common practice of hospitality in the ancient near east, but it was an extremely dirty task which causes me to physically cringe due to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It was not merely feet, but rather feet that had walked miles, in sandals, in the hot desert sand and dirt. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2020 in Sermons

 

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