About the Author

Jill Maisch - as a writer, speaker, missionary, and educator - has a tendency to wander upstream... against the more comfortable current of social and spiritual complacency.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

For I was a stranger...

Has Jesus joined us in worship lately?  Did we recognize him? 

Was he the well-dressed woman who knew all the hymns by heart… or was he the unkempt woman from the shelter who smelled strongly of cigarettes and stale beer? 

Was he the immaculately groomed man sitting in the front row… or was he the man in grease-stained work clothes who arrived a little late because he just got off work?

Has Jesus joined us in worship lately?  Did we recognize him?  Did we welcome him? 

Did we?

I really got to thinking after reading a Facebook post this afternoon written by my dear friend, Pastor Shandi Mawokomatanda. 
He humbly wrote: 
"For I was a stranger and you welcomed me." (Matthew 25:35)... Jesus walked into our sanctuary this morning, and unlike any other time before in my life I had to do more than just talk about God's love, I had to live it... "Lord, help my unbelief.  Amen."
I remember a time not too long ago when two men from the local homeless shelter finally accepted our invitation to join us in worship.  I overheard a long-time church member ask - in a loud stage whisper, "What are they doing here?"  Evidently it was OK for some of us to go to the homeless shelter to serve... but inviting "them" to worship with "us" at "our" church was crossing the line.  Their comments broke my heart... and I'm pretty sure I heard Jesus weep that day.  
When did Jesus join you in worship?  What's your story?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

From Tears to Joy!

I wrote this last year... but I saw some Peeps today, so I thought I'd add it to my blog.  Happy Easter!

I cry easily and sometimes at the most unexpected, inconvenient times.  Yesterday, of all places, the tears welled up at RiteAid.  Seeing boxes of Peeps triggered a memory of my friend, Jim, who recently passed away.  

I was reminded of last Easter when Jim “Peeped” my car while it was parked in the church parking lot.  I left Easter morning worship to find about two-dozen marshmallow chicks parading across the hood of my car.  Some had picket signs Jim had carefully written and placed on toothpicks.  It really was hysterical and I have the pictures to prove it.  

So there I was at the drug store yesterday… standing in front of the Peeps awkwardly going from crying to smiling.  But isn’t that what Easter is all about?  We go from sadness at the foot of the cross to joyfulness at the empty tomb!

Many of us miss Jim’s sense of humor and his friendship, but because of Easter we have the promise that death is not the end!   That’s definitely something to smile about!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Why the hurry?

Palm Sunday… Easter.  How often do we rush from one to another?  This year our Spring Break falls during Holy Week.  This has given me time to ponder and reflect on the actions and teachings of Jesus that occurred between the Hosannas of Palm Sunday and the Hallelujahs of Easter.
Today, Good Friday, is a day that could easily slip by unless we take the time to experience Jesus’ trial, scourging, ridicule, crucifixion, and death as if we were right there with the crowds.  Too often we Protestants are quick to dismiss the crucifix in favor of the empty cross.  I understand that the empty cross is meant to remind us of Christ’s resurrection, but on this day I need – as I think we all do – to gaze into the eyes of the tortured Christ on the cross.  Only then will we really begin to understand the depth of God’s loving sacrifice of his only Son for the forgiveness of our sins. 
So let’s not hurry through today.  Take time to read Scripture, pray and reflect on the suffering and sacrifice of the One chose to die for you and for me.  Easter is coming, but the empty tomb will be empty of meaning unless we remember Who was laid there on Good Friday.