Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tenderness in Tragedy

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.Matthew 27:57-61

Years ago, when my sister Pegi died, I was newly ordained and we had three small children. We got the news she had passed on a Saturday night and I had services the next morning. I muddled my way through the services without remembering much. We hadn't made our travel plans yet and weren't even sure when the funeral was that day. I was a bit of a zombie with my heart and head both far away. We hadn't worked out any details of our getting to Florida, but I knew we didn't have the money to go. A dear parishioner and friend called that Sunday afternoon and said she just had a thought. She traveled a great deal on business and had so many frequent flier miles she could never use them. Would we want to use some of her miles to attend the funeral? We were so touched by her thoughtfulness and generosity. In the midst of tragedy she found a way to move with compassion to change our lives.

Joseph of Arimethea is a follower of Jesus. He intervenes and offers what he had, both political and financial resources so that Jesus could be buried. His immediate and close followers were in shambles, a broken group of devastated people. They had not rudder, no direction and weren't thinking clearly or functioning normally. Tenderness in the midst of tragedy that changed everyone's lives down through the ages.

Today, I want to remember that the challenges of life are not out of God's hands and that God is always empowering people to offer tenderness in the most tragic situations. I pray that today I can be an agent of that compassion of God. May we all offer what we have for the visible compassion of God on earth.

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