Greetings on Good Friday,
Despite the wind, today is a beautiful blue bird day! I hope you get a chance to go outside and enjoy it. The snowdrops and crocus in my yard have finally bloomed and the phoebe who insists on building her nest right above my front door returned yesterday.
Here’s the news for the week:
Tonight’s Tenebrae Service
This evening at 7pm we will be gathering together in the sanctuary to remember the events of Good Friday– the day when Jesus was crucified at Golgotha. It will be a short, but meaningful service lit by candle light.
Lynn Warden’s Memorial Service
If you’re planning to attend, the memorial service for Lynn Warden will be held next Saturday, April 15th at 4pm at Garner Funeral Home. Calling hours will be from 2-4pm.
Jewish Humor Night, Thursday, April 20th
This month, the Potsdam Interfaith Community has a fun-loving night of laughter to share. Folks from Beth-El Congregation will be offering a night of Jewish humor via zoom on April 20th at 7pm. I don’t know much about Jewish humor, do you? I’m looking forward to finding out what this means!
Session Meeting, Wednesday, April 26th
For those of you who attend, our next Session meeting will be held via zoom at 6:30pm.
Community Supper Set for April 27th
For the first time since the pandemic hit 3 years ago, we will again be offering an in-person community supper! This month it will be taking place at Trinity Episcopal Church and we’re going to need extra volunteers to serve and help clean up.
Youth Group, April 27th
Youth group will meet again on Thursday, April 27th from 6:30-8:30pm at our church.
Free Piano to a Good Home!
Dawn Bartow has good news to share with the world. Seven years after moving in with her daughter’s family, Dawn is finally selling her home and has a piano to give away. It’s an upright in good condition, but will definitely need a solid tuning, as it hasn’t been played in many years. If you want it, you would need to come and move it. If you’d like more information, contact Dawn at firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations to Sebrina Petrie
Sabrina was informed last week that she will be receiving a scholarship to cover an entire year’s worth of tuition when she heads to the University of Buffalo next fall to begin a Master’s degree in social work. Congratulations Sabrina!
Finding God Through Suffering
This week, during Holy Week, we turn our attention to the suffering of Christ, and what is often referred to as “the way of the cross.” Many people believe that one way to find God is through deep suffering– that somehow anguish and misery brings us closer to the Divine.
One thing I have learned through my own personal strife, is that this idea of suffering is a bit misplaced. It’s not the misery itself that draws us closer to the Holy One, it’s the surrender that often comes as a result of the suffering. As Eckhart Tolle suggests, it’s the relinquishment of our resistance to what is, which draws us near to God.
So much of the time we trick ourselves into believing that we are in control; that we have the power to shape the outcomes of our lives. When we live this way, and something that we consider to be “disaster” then strikes– something beyond our control, which bends us in a direction we do not desire to be bent– we then find ourselves suffering.
Strangely, it’s sometimes easier to find ourselves living in communion with our Redeemer in these situations than when things are going well. But this is not the result of the suffering itself which does this for us. Anguish can be the path that ripens us up towards relationship with God, but it’s our willingness to surrender that draws us in.
It’s when we fall to our knees and surrender our will, our wishing, our anger, our sorrow, and our hope of being able to control what “is,” that we find the peace that passes beyond all understanding. When we hit the point of throwing our arms in the air and crying out, “I can’t do this anymore! God, help me!” that we are ushered into a place of stillness and calm. And out of this calm, God gives us peace. And from this peace comes joy. And from the joy springs love and compassion, which becomes the seat of power we do have access to.
The apostle Paul is right. In 2 Corinthians 12 he writes, “I have plenty to boast about…. I will say this: because these experiences I had were so tremendous, God was afraid I might be puffed up by them; so I was given a physical condition which has been a thorn in my flesh….Three different times I begged God to make me well again.~2 Corinthians 12:6-10
Each time he said, “No. But I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people.” Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am; I am glad to be a living demonstration of Christ’s power, instead of showing off my own power and abilities. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite happy about ‘the thorn,’ and about insults and hardships, persecutions and difficulties; for when I am weak, then I am strong—the less I have, the more I depend on him.”
Friends, I don’t know what personal struggles you are facing right now, but I know that many of us have aching hearts, broken bodies, and worry in our guts. When this happens, may we relinquish our resistance to what is. May we be brave enough to cry out, “I have pain today! And that is ok.” May we be courageous enough to call out, “God, I can’t fix this! But you have promised your peace. You have promised your presence. You have promised your love. I surrender myself to your love.”
May the peace of surrender settle over us all this Good Friday,