Sunday, May 25, 2014

"An Unknown God"

St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
May 25, 2014

Year A: The Sixth Sunday after Easter
Acts 17: 22-31
Psalm 66:7-18
1 Peter 3:13-22
John 14:15-21

"An Unknown God"
            If you were here last week you may remember that in our passage from the Acts of the Apostles we heard the story of the death of Stephen.
            Stephen, the first deacon and martyr, was stoned by people angry at the message he preached. He faces his death in a very Jesus-like way, asking forgiveness for his killers and then surrendering his spirit to God.
            It’s a powerful and moving scene, very well-crafted by Luke, the author of the Acts of the Apostles (as well as, of course, the gospel that bears his name).
            Luke throws in one detail about the stoning of Stephen that I didn’t mention last week and you may have missed.
            Luke writes that when they dragged Stephen out of the city and began to stone him “… the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a man named Saul.”
            And this is how we first meet the man that we know better as St. Paul. The young man named Saul is there at the stoning of Stephen, keeping an eye on everyone’s coats, presumably cheering on the crowd as they kill this very Jesus-like figure.
            We know a lot about Paul from his own letters and also from the Acts of the Apostles. The accounts don’t always match up but we know the broad strokes of his ministry.
            Paul was a very devout Jew, a Pharisee, in fact. He felt that that the followers of Jesus were blasphemers, using God-like language when they talked about Jesus. So, Paul enthusiastically threw himself into persecuting Christians, including Stephen and others.
            But then Paul had a conversion experience to end all conversion experiences.
            The Risen Christ steps into Paul’s life and sends him hurtling in a completely different direction.
            The man who persecuted Christians now becomes an apostle and spends the rest of his life sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout the Mediterranean world.
            And so, in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles we encounter this transformed Paul in Athens. Athens is, of course, still the Greek capital but in ancient times it was the center of culture and philosophy for the Mediterranean world.
            We’re told he stood in front of the Areopagus, which was a hill where an Athenian council met. It must have been a tough crowd.
            The educated and sophisticated Athenians must have been skeptical of this strange, rather hyperactive Jewish preacher. But, Paul’s no fool. He begins with what sounds like an attempt to butter up the Greeks, saying,
            “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way.”
            Paul has wandered their beautiful city and seen all the magnificent shrines to the many pagan gods. But, one shrine in particular has captured his attention and his imagination. Paul has found a shrine with the haunting inscription: “To an unknown God.”
            “To an unknown God.”
            Paul then essentially tells the Greeks, “See, you’ve always known that this God exists but you just haven’t known him. But, I know who this God is. This is the God who made everything, is the source of all life. This God definitely doesn’t live in shrines. This God is spirit but is not far from us – is actually right here.”
            It’s a powerful moment.
            And, a little later, we’re told that Paul actually has some success, converting some of these skeptical, educated and sophisticated Greeks to Christianity.
            I think about Paul’s work a lot. I try to imagine what it must have been like to travel from town to town, sharing the Good News with people who have never even heard the name Jesus – people who haven’t got any idea what Christianity is all about.
            It must have been hard.
            But then I also sometimes think that today we might have an even harder job.
            We are surrounded by people – at work or school, on the street, on the bus – who have heard of Jesus, who do have at least little idea of what Christianity is all about. And lots of times, maybe because they’ve been turned off by the loudest and meanest and most judgmental Christians or maybe because they’ve been hurt by the Church, lots of times they want no part of us.
            Because I’m kind of a “professional Christian” I probably experience that kind of suspicion and rejection more than you do.
            I can feel it when I walk the streets in my collar and people sometimes look away or smirk or even give me an angry stare. (At least I’m hoping it’s the collar. Maybe it’s me!)
            Lately I’ve officiated at a number of weddings. None of them have been here in church. Instead they’ve been at catering halls, which a lot of people prefer because of the convenience of having the ceremony and reception I the same place.
            I do these weddings because I like working with couples, helping them prepare for the wedding and, much more importantly, married life. But, I also do these weddings because they give me a chance to reach a captive audience of people – the wedding guests, most of whom, I’m pretty sure, never go to church.            
            And maybe just like the Greeks looking at Paul long ago, these wedding guests often look at me with skepticism and sometimes impatience. Often their faces are pretty much blank as they endure this little dose of religion before they get to the cocktail hour.
            I think to myself, “No Sale.”
            But, each time there’s also a face or two that seems open to the message. Each time there’s a person or two who seems to remember something long forgotten – each time there’s somebody who I can tell is encountering the unknown God – or maybe just the mostly forgotten God.
            So, I hope and pray, that, who knows, maybe even just one person at these weddings might be inspired to give Jesus another look and maybe even go to a church on Sunday.
            And, who knows, maybe at church or somewhere else they’ll discover an unknown or forgotten God who’s been right there waiting for them the whole time.
            So, let’s go back to St. Paul. Let’s imagine for a second if St. Paul were to arrive in Jersey City today.
            As he wandered around he’d certainly see a lot of shrines, just like he did in Athens long ago. Our city is filled with churches and other houses of worship.
            But he’d also see and meet plenty of people worshiping the other gods of today: money, power, pleasure, the piles of stuff that most of us accumulate.
            He’d find lots of people who are simply lost. Kids and adults hanging out on street corners, up to no good or maybe just having nothing much to do, no work to do and without much hope.
            But, just like among the Athenians long ago he’d also discover here a yearning for an unknown God – a deep desire to know the God who loves us enough to live with us and die for us.
            Paul would discover lots of people missing this unknown God – lots of people who don’t really know Jesus – the Jesus who loves us and never abandons us, who never leaves us as orphans.
            With the help of the Holy Spirit, right here and now at St. Paul’s in Jersey City, in our own way we can do the same job that Paul did long ago: through our lives and our words we can share the Good News with a city, with a world, hungry and desperate to meet an unknown God.
            Like St. Paul in Athens long ago, we can boldly and joyfully proclaim:
            Alleluia! Christ is risen!
            The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Knowing God

St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
May 18, 2014

Year A: The Fifth Sunday of Easter
Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
John 14:1-14

Knowing God
            If you were here last week you may remember that I talked about how because God is infinite and invisible we have no choice but to use metaphors and figures of speech to talk about God.
            God is like this.
            God’s love is like that.
            And that’s true. And we use metaphors for God all the time. Last week we talked about the image of God as shepherd of the people – and Jesus as the Good Shepherd who protects us, who nurtures us, who never stops looking for us when we go astray.
            It’s a powerful image for the deep love of God – the deep love that Jesus offers to all of us.
            But, at the heart of our Christian faith is the mind-blowing idea that at one point in human history, God broke through metaphor and image and figure of speech and God actually became one of us in Jesus of Nazareth.
            It’s a hard idea to accept. And it was hard for people to accept in the first years of Christianity.
            After all, it would have been much easier, much simpler, frankly a much easier sell, to say that Jesus was a great prophet, a great teacher, a great healer. Most people then and now could sign up for that.
            And probably a whole lot of people then and now would even go along with the claim that Jesus was the greatest – the greatest prophet, the greatest teacher, the greatest healer of all time.
            But, from just about the start, the followers of Jesus have made a much more challenging – much harder to accept – claim.
            From very early days, followers of Jesus have made the claim that, yes, Jesus was a great – the greatest – prophet, teacher and healer. But, we’ve also claimed that he’s much more.
            And we hear this mind-blowing Christian claim in today’s gospel lesson.
            It’s still Easter, but today’s gospel takes us back before the Cross, back to the Last Supper.
            Just before his betrayal and arrest, Jesus gathers with his disciples, with his closest friends.
            And the way the Evangelist John tells the story, the Last Supper gives Jesus the opportunity for one last crack at getting through to his often thick-headed followers. They’ve been with him for years, but the disciples are still confused – still don’t get what Jesus is about – still don’t know who Jesus is.
            In the passage we heard today, the Apostles Thomas and Philip get speaking parts and by what they ask we know they still don’t get it.
            We can hear the pain and confusion in Thomas’ question to Jesus. At the Last Supper it’s beginning to sink in that Jesus is going to die. Jesus tries to reassure them that he will prepare a place for them with God – tries to reassure them that we will all be reunited – tries to reassure them that they know the way to be with Jesus, to be together forever.
            Thomas asks, begs, “Lord we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
            Jesus tells Thomas, tells all of us, that he is the way. And then Jesus adds, “If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
            In the very next verse Philip asks, “Lord, show us the Father and we will be satisfied.”
            And Jesus says, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
            Most scholars think that the Gospel of John is the last of the four gospels to be completed, right around the year 100, about seventy years after the earthly lifetime of Jesus.
            So, this gospel is the product of divine inspiration working through a couple of generations of Christian reflection on Jesus.
            And those decades of prayer, reflection and experience led those early Christians to realize that in and through Jesus we move beyond metaphors and figures of speech.
            Jesus said, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
            Knowing Jesus means knowing God.
            And if we know Jesus we know that God loves us with a bottomless, self-giving, self-sacrificial love.
            If we know Jesus we know that God has a special love for the outcasts, for the nobodies of the world, the people the world ignores and throws away.
            If we know Jesus we know that God has a special love for the kidnapped girls in Nigeria, held hostage for no other reason than wanting to read and learn.
            If we know Jesus we know that God has a special love the poorest among us, the homeless and the addicted, who huddle at Journal Square, who panhandle along Bergen Avenue, who sleep in boxes on the porch of the Old Bergen Church.
            If we know Jesus we know that God is all about forgiveness for us and for everybody.
            If we know Jesus we know God offers all of us second chances, no matter how many times we mess up. God offers us seventy times seven chances, healing, and hope and new life – hope and new life even after days in the tomb.
            Knowing Jesus means knowing God.
            God reveals God’s Self in Jesus.
            But, God doesn’t stop there – God doesn’t stop with Jesus.
            We are the Body of Christ in the world so God continues to reveal God’s Self in and through the Church, in and through Christians through the ages and even today, God continues to reveal God’s Self in and through us.
            In our reading from the Acts of the Apostles we heard the story of the death of Stephen, among the first deacons and considered the first martyr.
            But, notice how much Stephen is like Jesus. He’s killed because he teaches things that people don’t want to hear. And as he’s being stoned to death he echoes Jesus, on the cross, praying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
            And at the moment of his death, what does he do? Just like Jesus on the cross, Stephen offers forgiveness, crying out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against him.”
            In and through Stephen, God moved beyond metaphors and figures of speech. God revealed God’s Self in and through Stephen.
            And, if we’re open to God, God reveals God’s Self in and through us.
            So, when we love no matter what, especially when we love the outcasts, the nobodies, the disposable people, then we reveal God to the world.
            When we remember to bring food for the food pantry, when we offer St. Paul’s as a haven for homeless families, when we support our community meal, then we reveal God to the world.
            When we forgive each other – when we forgive ourselves – not just once or twice but seventy times seven times, then we reveal God to the world.
            When we live like Jesus – loving, teaching, healing, forgiving – God breaks through metaphor, image and figure of speech.
            When we live like Jesus then the world can really know Jesus.
            And knowing Jesus we know God.
            And, then knowing Jesus and knowing God, we can proclaim with Thomas, Philip, Stephen and Christians throughout the ages:
            Alleluia! Christ is risen!
            The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Good Mother

St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
The Church of the Incarnation, Jersey City NJ
May 11, 2014

Year A: The Fourth Sunday after Easter
Acts 2:42-47
Psalm 23
1 Peter 2:19-25
John 10:1-10

The Good Mother
            Alleluia! Christ is risen!
            The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
            When we talk about God we use lots of symbols and images and metaphors. We have no choice since God is infinite and invisible. The best we can do is say God is like this. Or, God’s love is like that.
            Today we focus on, reflect on, one of the most beautiful and comforting and popular images of God and of Jesus.
            Today we celebrate what’s called “Good Shepherd Sunday.”
            Sheep and shepherds were all over the place in ancient Israel – and there are still plenty of them in the Middle East today, too – so it’s no surprise that the Bible is full of sheep and shepherd imagery.
            In many places in the Old Testament, God is described as a shepherd. Probably the best-known and best-loved example is the 23rd Psalm, especially in the familiar King James Version:           
            “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
            On the other hand, the prophets were also often willing to accuse the leaders of Israel of being bad shepherds – leading the people away from God, leading the people to danger and destruction.
            So, naturally we would expect that Jesus would use sheep and shepherd imagery when he teaches the people – and especially when he teaches about who he is and what he does.
            Jesus teaches us that there are bad shepherds – there are thieves and bandits who want to steal and hurt the sheep, but Jesus is the good shepherd. The sheep know Jesus’ voice. And Jesus leads the sheep to abundant life.
            It’s a beautiful and comforting image that I’m sure still touches many of us today, especially if we’ve actually seen shepherds in action tending their sheep.
            For the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading a new book called Jesus: A Pilgrimage. It’s by James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author. In the book he tells the story of Jesus as he tells the story of his own recent pilgrimage in the Holy Land. It’s really good and I recommend it to you.
            Anyway, at one point in the book, Martin remembers driving in Kenya twenty years ago when suddenly a sheep darted across the road. Martin swerved and narrowly avoided hitting the sheep.
            A moment later a young Kenyan herdsman came running along, smiled and waved at Martin, and continued to chase after the runaway. Martin remembers then looking where the shepherd had come from and seeing the rest of the flock patiently waiting for the return of the shepherd and his runaway sheep.
            The author laughed out loud, recognizing the Parable of the Lost Sheep enacted right before his eyes.
            So, yes, they have sheep and shepherds in Israel and Kenya and lots of other places – maybe places where you’ve lived or visited. But, you know, I’m a city guy. I’ve never seen a sheep outside of a petting zoo. And, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen a shepherd in person. So, while I appreciate the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, it’s not really part of my experience.
            Fortunately, Jesus isn’t teaching us about sheep and shepherds. He’s teaching us about love.
            So, I got to thinking.
            In his teaching, Jesus used images that people saw all around them in First Century Israel.
            So, what kind of images – what kind of metaphors – for God’s love, for Jesus’ love, would Jesus use if he were teaching us today here in 21st Century Jersey City?
            I got an idea while I was driving the other day.
            Now, if you drive around here during the week in the afternoon you know it’s just absolutely crazy – parents and others picking up kids who are running around like maniacs after school lets out, school buses idling, flashing lights, noise and so much traffic!
            And in the middle of it all is the crossing guard.
            Jesus the Good Crossing Guard.
            What do you think? Jesus cares for us and gets us across life in safety.
            I like that image but I guess it doesn’t quite match up with Jesus the Good Shepherd.
            Although crossing guards do sometimes get to know the kids and parents they cross every day, somehow that relationship just isn’t quite personal enough to be a modern equivalent of the Good Shepherd.
            So, what would be an image that most of us could relate to?
            The answer is obvious, right?
            The Good Mother.
            Some of us have been fortunate enough to know the love of a mother. And I bet most of us would agree that motherly love is the closest love to God’s selfless and self-giving love.
            Some of us have been fortunate enough to get a strong taste of God’s unconditional love from our mothers who carried us and nurtured us even before we were born. Others of us have blessed by that “I’d do anything for you” kind of love from a grandmother or an adopted mother or an aunt or an older sister or a friend or a neighbor.
            And, I’m sure that those of you are mothers have sometimes been surprised at the depth of the love you feel for your children.
            I remember one time visiting an elderly woman in the hospital who was drifting in and out of consciousness. At one point she looked at me with suddenly clear eyes and said, “I never knew I could love my children so much.”
            That kind of love is like God’s kind of love.
            That kind of love is like Jesus’ kind of love.
            God is both Father and Mother.
            And, Jesus the Good Shepherd is also Jesus the Good Mother.
            Now, before anyone flips out about using motherly language to describe Jesus, remember that Jesus himself uses that kind of language to describe himself and his love.
            In both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus is remembered as having said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often I have desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…”
            Think of that beautiful motherly image for a second.
            “How often I have desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…”
            Jesus the Good Shepherd is also Jesus the Good Mother.
            And, over the centuries, Christian mystics have occasionally reflected on the motherly love of God, the motherly love of Jesus.
            The past Thursday we celebrated the feast of Julian of Norwich, the much-loved English mystic who lived around the year 1400. When she was about 30 she had a series of visions that gave her a profound glimpse of God’s love, a sense that all would be well no matter what.
            In one of her most famous quotes she said, “Our Savior is our true Mother in whom we are endlessly born and out of whom we shall never come.”
            Jesus cares for us just like a shepherd cares for his sheep, protecting us, keeping us close and leading us to new and abundant life.
            And Jesus loves us with a mother’s love, loving us unconditionally, sacrificing for us, suffering pain for us, teaching us how to live, and holding us close when we are frightened or hurt.
            God is both Father and Mother.
            Jesus the Good Shepherd is also Jesus the Good Mother.
            And all of us Christians, mothers and fathers, men and women, boys and girls – all of us - whether we’ve known a mother’s love or not - are all called to love each other with a mother’s love.
            In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we get a little glimpse of life in the early church. We’re told that those first followers of Jesus shared what they had with one another and especially with those in need. We’re told that those first Christians enjoyed their meals together at home and ate with glad and generous hearts.
            Sounds like motherly love to me.
            God is both Father and Mother.
            Jesus the Good Shepherd is also Jesus the Good Mother.
            And all of us Christians are all called to love each other with a mother’s love, to love each other unconditionally, to love one another no matter what, to love one another as God loves us, to love with a love stronger even than death.
            Alleluia! Christ is risen!
            The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Divine Interruptions

St. Paul’s Church in Bergen, Jersey City NJ
May 4, 2014

Year A: The Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17
1 Peter 1:17-23
Luke 24:13-35

Divine Interruptions
            If you were here last Sunday you may remember that the theme of my sermon was that it’s still Easter.
            It’s still Easter.
            Last Sunday we heard a story from the Gospel of John. In the evening of the first Easter Day the Risen Christ appeared to the frightened disciples who were hiding in a locked room in Jerusalem. When the disciples see the Risen Christ they rejoice and they share the Good News – the best news ever – with Thomas the disciple who missed the whole thing and won’t believe a word of it until he sees Jesus for himself, which he does a week later.
            It’s still Easter.
            Alleluia! Christ is risen!
            The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
            And now today on the Third Sunday of Easter, sure enough, it’s still Easter.
            Today we move from the Gospel of John to the Gospel of Luke – in fact we hear a story that’s found only in the Gospel of Luke.
            It’s still Easter – it’s still the first day of the week - when Luke introduces us to the two disciples on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus.
            But just like the scene with the disciples hiding out in a room in Jerusalem, at the start this scene doesn’t feel much like Easter.
            Luke tells us that these two disciples, Cleopas and an unnamed disciple (maybe “Mrs. Cleopas”?) are talking with each other about all the things that had happened. They are discussing and talking, analyzing and puzzling. Luke doesn’t have to tell us what things they’re talking about. We know it’s the betrayal, arrest, suffering, death and tales of an empty tomb and angels and finally the seemingly impossible claim made by some women that Jesus lives.
            It’s still Easter but for Cleopas and the other disciple it doesn’t really feel much like Easter, at least not yet.
            So, they’re walking along confused and forlorn when Jesus himself comes near them, interrupts them and strikes up a conversation. Except of course we know it’s Jesus but the two disciples don’t – can’t – recognize him yet.
            But, although they don’t recognize Jesus, notice that Cleopas and the other disciple are open – they are open to this apparently clueless stranger who seems to be the only person around who doesn’t know what happened to Jesus.
            They are open to this stranger so they fill him in on everything that’s happened – in the process basically summarizing the Gospel of Luke.
            And they are even open when Jesus – still hidden from their recognition – criticizes them for not getting what Jesus was all about. And they are open when Jesus interprets the Scriptures to them.
            It must have been quite a walk.
            Cleopas and the other disciple are open when they arrive in Emmaus and the stranger seems to be going further on. They are open, insisting that he stay with them because the day is over and evening is at hand.
            Thanks to their openness, they unknowingly offer hospitality to Jesus himself.
            And then their openness is rewarded in a way they could never have expected or even imagined when Jesus takes the bread, blesses it, breaks it and gives it to them.
            It’s Jesus!
            For the two disciples it’s finally Easter!
            Alleluia! Christ is risen!
            The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!
            I love this story of the risen Christ appearing to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.
            I love it most because Emmaus is not a one-time event. The truth is that Emmaus happens all the time.
            We encounter Christ in the stranger.
            We encounter Christ in the Bible.
            We encounter Christ in the breaking of the bread.
            All of these encounters are available to us all the time – maybe not quite as dramatically as what Cleopas and the other disciple experienced – but still pretty close.
            The only question is our openness.
            How open are we really to encountering Christ?
            I’m guessing we’re pretty open when it comes to the Bible and the Eucharist. After all we expect to encounter Christ in the Scriptures and certainly in the bread and wine.
            But, let’s go back to the beginning of the story.
            Cleopas and the other disciple were interrupted – interrupted by a stranger – a stranger who turns out to be the Risen Christ.
            I’m sure the two disciples really wanted to be alone. After all, they had left the other disciples behind in Jerusalem.
            The two disciples wanted to be alone to think, to talk with each other, to grieve, to puzzle over all that had happened to Jesus and to them.
            They just wanted to go home.
            And then they were interrupted.
            Now, they could have told this seemingly clueless stranger to buzz off, to just leave them alone in their grief and confusion.
            But, instead the two disciples are open – they’re open to what turns out to be a divine interruption.
            How many of us hate to be interrupted?
            I’m used to it now but when I first became a priest interruptions used to drive me a little crazy.
            I was used to being a teacher with a set schedule. At this time I have homeroom. During these periods I teach. This is my free period. School ends at this time.
            There were some interruptions, of course: kids wanting to use the bathroom, PA announcements, fire drills, assemblies, the occasional emergency, and so on. But, basically, at the start of the day I knew what I would be doing - and when I would be doing it.
            As a priest, not so much.
            When I was first ordained, I tried to structure my days much like a teacher. During this time I will make pastoral visits. At this hour I will begin sermon preparation. At these times I will attend regularly scheduled meetings.
            But, then there were all these interruptions.
            Knocks at the door. Phone calls. Emails. And now there are even texts.
            “Do you have a few minutes to talk?”
            “I was just walking by and saw your office door open and thought I’d say hi.”
            At first, it was a little annoying. When am I supposed to write my sermon? But, then when I reflected on these encounters I was having with people – sometimes people I knew, sometimes strangers - people sometimes in obviously real need and sometimes people who seemed to just want to shoot the breeze – I realized that this is how God works – this is how God works all the time not just with priests, but with all of us.
            God works through interruptions.
            God interrupts each of us individually.
            And God interrupts us as a community. God interrupts St. Paul’s all the time. Why don’t we work more closely with the other Episcopal churches in Jersey City? What about hosting a play? How about offering yoga? What about a monthly community meal? Could we host homeless families here at St. Paul’s?
            Divine interruptions.
            Despite all their sadness and fear and confusion, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus were open to interruptions.
            And finally after they’ve recognized the Risen Christ, what do they do? That very hour they get up and interrupt their own plans. They interrupt their own plans, turn around and walk the seven miles back to Jerusalem.
            May we be like Cleopas and the other disciple.
            As best as we can, may we – individually and as a church - be open to divine interruptions. May we be open when there’s a tap on the shoulder, a knock at the door, a ringing or buzzing phone, an email or instant message, a new idea, an exciting but challenging opportunity to serve others.
            May we, as best as we can, be like Cleopas and the other disciple, may we be open to divine interruptions.
            And may we proclaim with them:
            Alleluia! Christ is risen!
            The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!