"After that, he appeared to more than five hundred at the same time, most of whom are still living...then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and then to me..." 1 Corinthians 15:6
- As we continue in the season of Easter, I have thought much about the resurrection appearances of Jesus and the fact that many who saw Him were still living even as Paul wrote. Had he been making it up or telling it incorrectly, there would have been any number of people to refute what he was saying, but we have no such account. After He appeared to the apostles, they went from hiding in fear to boldly proclaiming Jesus raised from the dead. His appearance is the only thing that can explain the radical change in their behavior. There are many other such proofs and together they have formed the foundational elements of my faith in Christ. I find it somewhat amazing that so many people choose to ignore such evidence in favor of a cultural approach, one that serves self above all else. Regardless, when that evidence seeps in, transformation occurs. Easter makes even in the most hardened pause - and think. Easter changes us. Easter changes our perspective on our current circumstance as well as our future hope. Easter changes our purpose and our perspective. Easter alleviates our fears and multiplies our peace. Look at it. Reflect on it. Be changed by it. Live as Easter people!
- The physical resurrection of Jesus affirms that this physical world matters. Not only does Easter foretell the redemption of our lives, but the redemption of all creation, including this world. Therefore, we are compelled by Easter to engage this world and serve those in need which is why we minister to and care for the homeless. Last week's Youth Homelessness report released by Chapin Hall at UChicago showed that we have 268 people aged 13 to 24 living unaccompanied and unstably housed in our region. 33% are pregnant or new mothers and 35% are LGBTQ. These are vulnerable populations at the most critical point in their formation as people. If we can't help them, statistically, their lives continue to spiral down. What's needed? Youth-specific housing, the next item on a growing list of housing needs in Central Florida.
- Congratulations to my longtime associate Case Thorp on his nomination to be Moderator of the General Assembly of the EPC. This will be voted on this summer with his term in 2019-20. It has been a joy and privilege to serve with him these past 13 years, and I know he will lead us well.
- MOVIE REVIEW: The Greatest Showman. I know I am late to this party, but we finally heeded the pleas of others to watch it and we were not disappointed. It was unexpectedly life-affirming, championing the dignity and worth of all people.
- SURVEY RESULTS COMING: Check your email today for a survey summary and information on our progress. You will also have two chances to ask questions, the first on Facebook Live Monday, April 23, at 7 pm (on my personal page) and the second at a Town Hall meeting following worship on April 29 following the late worship services. Read up, jot down your questions, and then give us your feedback!
- I have had the privilege of working with some truly outstanding people in this community over the years, and certainly one of the finest is Lori Pampilo Harris. She has been a passionate, tireless and effective leader in serving the homeless among us, doing everything from driving the streets prior to a hurricane to be sure all were sheltered to forming effective city strategies for permanent supportive housing. She has carried enormous burdens and responsibilities but has never flagged or wavered in her commitment to doing right by the least and most vulnerable. It's the rare mix of courage with compassion. She has the heart of a lion, and it's been a joy to work with her in serving our region. I know I'll lean on her greatly when I begin chairing the Commission on Homelessness next fall.
- DISTURBING LACK OF HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE: I found it very sad that a recent survey showed 41% of Americans did not know anything about the Holocaust. Even worse, a whopping 66% of millennials had no knowledge of it. We'd best fix that lest we risk repeating it.
- Live with integrity. Do the right thing because its the right thing even when no one else knows. Do the right thing even when it comes with a personal cost to you. Value relationships over personal success. Don't sacrifice friendships in order to gain success. it's never worth it.
- Curious… how many of you have heard of Meyer Lemon Semifreddo?