Rev. Dr. Anna Verlee Copeland's Blog

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April 1 Post

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Waiting for a family member to give birth is perilous business. We promise to pray for them, and though appreciative, our grown children wonder aloud what could possibly go wrong with the delivery of their first-born child. We who have been there and done that do not disavow them the innocence of their belief. Some experience is better left unspoken. Precarious hangs the balance between life and death for every new child entering the world, and for that matter, for every old soul leaving it.

Life is all the more precious for the blood and sacrifice that brings it to bear. No point in elaborating ahead of time on the suffering part. A woman in labor knows soon enough that moment when there’s no turning back, no changing of the mind. “Thy will be done” becomes a prayer of hope for survival. Never mind that millions of women journeyed these final hours and survived. Each pilgrimage to life requires the navigation of sorrow, that moment when the sense of being turned inside out for a greater cause overtakes her.

I imagine just such a moment for Jesus, arriving in Jerusalem to a festival crowd. Children, dogs, and extended relatives tumbled into streets burgeoning with holiday travelers. Passover preparations had begun; the lambs about to be sacrificed for the feast innocently munched their last grain. The crowd’s murmur intensified as a re-known teacher made his way into town. “Did you see Jesus? He’s apparently traveling right behind us. Let’s stop and wait for him. Perhaps he’ll have a message for us today, a kind word, a healing touch?”

In a matter of days, the adoring crowds now filling the streets would hunker down to cook, tell stories, and gossip about the extended family, in kitchens and courtyards up and down the valley. The leaders who plotted against Jesus’ life would engage in treachery while the crowd went home for the holidays. The parade that initiates Holy Week for Jesus soon vanishes, as Jesus steps alone into the misery of betrayal, desertion, denial and a lonely night wrestling with God for some other way. Then swift as car accident, the arrest, backstage trial and execution took place. The whole thing unfolded before the crowd blinked, and then it was finished.

We can’t wait to experience good news and new life to come. But not yet. For a little while more, longer than we’d like, we’re stuck in the middle of labor. There’s suffering involved. The outcome remains uncertain. While we know that most deliveries result in joy come morning, we’re eager to get this whole thing over with, and get on with the new life that awaits us on the other side.

Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

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

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Interim Senior Minister
Community Church of Vero Beach

March 25 Post

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Today is my birthday. It started off fine, with giggling phone calls from grandchildren and a waffle and egg delivered by my husband with hot coffee first thing. It’s an awkward day to celebrate. After all, the restaurants are closed and birthday hugs are in short supply, all with good reason. My gift of a new bike helmet and side mirrors to keep me from crashing into somebody on A1A will be sufficient. I’m of a certain age that I no longer need a party and balloons. Besides, the most important celebration is coming soon.

Palm Sunday is a week away with Holy Week and Easter close behind. We’ve all been wondering how we’ll celebrate this year. It turns out that creative plans are in the works. Though we won’t be filling the sanctuary as we had hoped, Holy Week will begin with Drive Through Palm Sunday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. If you are able to drive on over to the church, one of us will issue from a socially acceptable distance a sign of peace, and slip a prayer and a palm under your windshield wiper for you to enjoy when you return home. We’ll worship on-line live C2 at 8:30 and Sanctuary worship live at 10:00 through our web-site.

Stay tuned for plans for the rest of Holy Week, but for now, remember this. Every morning is Easter morning. Every day is a new birth day for faith. Every sunrise offers a little resurrection and the promise that the past is over and gone. Every morning we rise forgiven, a fresh slate stretching before us to use, spend or lose. It is said that a famous theologian once jumped on his bed each morning, shouting, “I am baptized.” He apparently claimed each day as God’s gift with abandoned joy. That’s the kind of birthday I want, don’t you?

I feel a little sorry for my husband, trying to make plans. But the truth is, it matters little to me what we do or how we celebrate. As I think through every possibility, I keep returning to the good news that my birthday falls this year shortly before Holy Week. In life, in death, every morning is Easter morning. Every day is our birth-day in Christ. You don’t have to wait until the anniversary of your entrance to the world to celebrate. Today is God’s birth day present for you. Open it.

Prayer for Today: O Holy One, thank you for the opening of this new day. May it reveal fresh possibilities for serving you with gladness of heart. Amen

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

Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland