To the Cross and Beyond

To the Cross and Beyond

Blessings and Peace as we prepare to enter into Holy Week. I do so this year with a special awareness of my need to complete my walk of faith through Lent; to see through the journey we take with Christ each year to the Cross and beyond.  That’s because in the past two weeks, three people have died who I consider to have been mentors in my life.

Debbi’s dad, Hal, died after a near fatal heart attack a year ago finally led to his death. Hal was a gentle and caring man whose love for his family was evident throughout the 30 plus years I have known him. He was “Gramps” for our four children and delighted in the accomplishments of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have sought (and often failed, miserably) to emulate what Debbi has shared with me was his gentle, caring way of parenting which consistently held out for his children a loving and positive vision of all that they could be and do. The values and faith he taught Debbi are clearly a gift in my life. A service of Thanksgiving to God for Hal’s life, love and faith will be held this Saturday, on the eve of Holy Week. Your prayers will be appreciated by Debbi and her family and by me.

Pr. Gene Jewell, and the faith in Christ that sustained him in this life, will be remembered at a funeral service on Monday of Holy Week. Pr. Gene served for many years as the pastor of Prince of Peace in Saratoga, where he (and the congregation) mentored a string of intern pastors. I was not one of those interns, but early in my time of serving as a pastor, I saw in Pr. Gene much of what I aspired to offer in ministry – strong preaching, excellent pastoral care and visionary leadership. For reasons I could not understand, Pr. Gene seemed to find something in me that welcomed me as a colleague and friend. I remain humbled by that. Pr. Gene possessed a sense of humor that became a lens for how he saw himself and others – with love and affection he could disarm whatever illusions we might have had regarding any worthiness apart from what God has imbued in us through Christ. One of his legacies is already a reality – the ministries of many interns and teaching parish students who are now serving across this church.

Lastly, a mentor whom I never met died recently – Prof. Stephen Hawking. He was a “hero” of mine, mostly because he could explain the wonders and mysteries of the universe in ways I never could. At one point in my life, I was hoping to become an astrophysicist, but God had other plans, and so I became a pastor instead. A pastor with a telescope. A pastor who has tried to help people understand that science and faith are not enemies of each other, but rather a compliment to each other as we seek to understand the “Theory of Everything.” Following his death, someone asked me if I thought Prof. Hawking was a Christian. Based on some of his writings, I’d say he was more of a Theist or perhaps even an atheist, but that doesn’t diminish my regard for his work. I believe he and I used different language to explain some of the same things about the origins of the universe, God, faith and how this affects our choices in life. I wish my sermons could be half as clear and concise as his ability to explain the unexplainable…

May God bless and keep all of us as we give thanks this week for Christ’s journey to the Cross, and for those who have walked with us, loved us, and mentored us as reflections of God’s great love for us in Jesus.

Peace,
Bp. Mark

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