Dear Middleway Urban Monastery friends,
Thankfully, this year most churches held some sort of in-person Easter service, recalling that last year many were just beginning to understand how to communicate virtually. It wasn't the same, we found, in 2020. Try as we may, there is something to be said about in-person community.
In my family, Easter attendance is a given, even for the two or three who might call themselves "spiritual but not religious." Gathering on Easter at the church that has conducted our family's weddings, baptisms and confirmations for more than 30 years is just something we do, well, "religiously."
Perhaps because we had to skip the church part last year, this year's gathering for the family meal after the service brought up lots of memories. The older grandchildren are now asking about various traditions. One asked what eggs have to do with Easter anyway.
I shared with her an icon I have of Mary Magdalene holding an egg between her thumb and index finger. The description tells of a tradition in Eastern Christianity in which Mary Magdalene was in Rome after the Ascension and was allowed to speak with Tiberius, whom she told Jesus had risen from the dead. She had picked up an egg to use to explain the resurrection. Tiberius allegedly responded that a human could no more raise from the dead than that egg could turn red. The egg immediately turned red, the story goes, and thus began the tradition of coloring eggs.
My granddaughter was amazed by the story and the icon. (Questions about the bunny followed but probably were not as inspiring.)
But what IS inspiring is the new life that this Easter truly brings. As we are easing back into society, we have the opportunity to take with us the love that Jesus commands ... love God with heart, mind, body and soul and love your neighbor as yourself.
Book club to consider Soul Making
This week, we begin a new book of the month, "Soul Making: The Desert Way of Spirituality," by Alan Jones. We will begin with some background about the early church's desert fathers and mothers, then discuss the first two chapters. We gather on Tuesday, April 6, at 7 p.m. Central time. The group is open to all. Here's how to join:
Meeting ID: 862 8991 8385 Passcode: 164675
or call in 1 346 248 7799
The May book is "Streams of Living Water" by Richard Foster
Interested in spiritual direction or formation training?
If you've considered learning more about Christian spirituality and how the training might impact you and your ministry, check out FIND - School for Spiritual Direction and Formation. Applications are being accepted for the ecumenical school which offers classes once a month on a Saturday so that busy lay and clergy people can attend more easily. This year, FIND is launching a second version of the school. After a successful transition to Zoom classes in 2020 allowed the school to continue during the pandemic, the FIND board has agreed to offer a parallel school which will be exclusively online to enable anyone to attend without regard to location. The traditional school, which was founded in 1997, will return to an in-person venue at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Bryan, Texas. A person may choose to enroll in either the online or in-person school. FIND hopes to move to Middleway Urban Monastery when a physical location is establish. For more information, see www.schoolforspiritualdirection.org.
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