Dear Members and Friends:
The Lenten home communions have been a delightful and meaningful experience for those who have participated. The hour and a half that we have spent together on a week day evening has provided time to get to know each other in a way that is hard to do on busy Sunday mornings. I want every member of both our churches to have the opportunity to attend a home communion, so we will continue to hold them in coming months, until everyone has been invited at least once. I urge you to make time to attend, so that you can gain a deeper understanding of the congregation to which you belong.
This year we are adding an early morning service to our observance of Easter. At 7:30 Easter morning (April 16) we will gather on the lawn at Levittown Church (Miles Hall if it’s raining) to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. We will be featuring the musical and dramatic talent of our young people. Rod Sklar is organizing a sumptuous Easter breakfast that will follow the early service. Come early! Stay late! Attend the traditional 10 a.m. service to make a morning of it.
A recent presentation and discussion at the Gathering laid on our hearts the challenge of including and supporting children and adults with special needs. There is an active conversation continuing about how our church might be more involved in this important ministry. This topic brings to mind the life and writings of the Rev Henri Nouwen who was a major figure in Christian spiritualty in the second half of the twentieth century. He taught at different times at both Yale and Harvard Divinity School. In the last part of his life in the 1980’s and 1990’s he answered God’s call to live and work in the “L’Arche” community in Canada. This organization was launched in France to provide a supportive residential community for people with severe disabilities. “L’Arche” emphasizes the spiritual life of both its residents and their caregivers. Allow me to share two paragraphs from Rev Nouwen’s reflections on his experiences with L’Arche. Here he is reflecting on the difference between human glory and
“. . .human glory is always connected with some form of competition. Human glory is the result of being considered better, faster, more beautiful, more powerful, or more successful than others. Glory conferred by people is glory which results from being favorably compared to other people. The better our scores on the scoreboard of life, the more glory we receive. This glory comes with upward mobility. The higher we climb on the ladder of success, the more glory we collect. But the same glory also creates our darkness. Human glory, based on competition, leads to rivalry; rivalry carries within it the beginning of violence; and violence is the way to death. Human glory proves to be vain glory, false glory, mortal glory.
How then do we come to see and receive God’s glory? In his Gospel, John shows that God chose to reveal his glory to us in his humiliation. That is the good, but also disturbing, news. God, in his infinite wisdom, chose to reveal his dignity to us not through competition, but through compassion, that is, through suffering with us. God chose the way of downward mobility. Every time Jesus speaks about being glorified and giving glory, he always refers to his humiliation and death. It is through the way of the cross that Jesus gives glory to God, receives glory from God, and makes God’s glory known to us. The glory of the resurrection can never be separated from the glory of the cross. The risen Lord always shows us his wounds.
Thus, the glory of God stands in contrast to the glory of people. People seek glory by moving upward. God reveals his glory by moving downward. If we truly want to see the glory of God, we must move downward with Jesus. This is the deepest reason for living in solidarity with poor, oppressed, and handicapped people. They are the ones through whom God’s glory can manifest itself to us. They show us the way to God, the way of salvation.”