Richard & Linda Mose Meadows

Richard & Linda Mose Meadows
Pastor, Pastoral Counselor and Chaplain
Ministry to Angry Patients and Families

Psychotherapist John R. Rifkin, Ph.D., views anger in a revolutionary way; he says that it can be used as the natural energy created to heal one’s emotional injuries. In his book The Healing Power of Anger, he explains how to identify (righteous/dysfunctional) uses of anger so that one can unbend it and become empowered and self-nurturing.

There is a particular passage on page eleven of Russell H. Davis’s writing on Discordant Identification in a Stress Incident that reads, all of us prisoners of identification, inmates of hounded imagination, in bondage to our own aggression as surely as... the social, economic, racial factors that are responsible for people’s behavior.

Is it the social, economic, racial factors that are responsible for people’s behavior or what Elaine Penderhughes may refer to as a differential of power?

C-Chaplain M-Mother F-Family Member(s)

C: “Hi, can I get you to a more comfortable place then here in this cold hallway?

M: No, I ‘m better if I stand here, I need the air.” (She is crying and I can tell she does not know what to do. She is surrounded by maybe seven persons, all talking and standing in the door. Both doors of the entrance are open and cold air is blowing in. She finally succumbs and allows me to show her to the consult room. Once seated with the father of J I begin to talk with them.)

C1: “My name is Richard and I am going to be taking care of you until the doctors can come in and see you. (I hear sounds of mumbling over on the side) I know you are afraid, and as soon as the doctors are free they will come and speak with you. (More mumbling, even louder) I am going to get some Kleenex; can I also get you or Mr. H. some water? “

M1: (Crying) “Yes, thank you...”

F2: “Can she go in the back?” (Loudly and boldly)

C2: “I am quite sure...”

F3: “The lady said she (the patient) was talking and was alright. She was hollering and screaming and we want her (the patient) to know we are here...”

C3: “I can not tell you if that is the case or not, but I will return to the bay and find out if the...”

F4: (Now talking to another family member) “F*** him! He don’t know what the F*** he’s talking about.”

C4: (To the mother of the patient) “I will be back in a moment with your water.”
I go to the area where there is water and return a few moments later. Those were the few moments that I needed to compose myself, before I returned to the room. I had immediately grown angry and frustrated, but I am able to pull myself together, and act as though she was not being insulting or talking directly to me. It is here that I decide to continue with the care that is expected of the ED chaplain and to do my best to ignore any further insults.

As I return to the consult room with the water the same woman who had made the comments and spoke rudely asked:

F5: “Can you show me where the cafeteria is? I’m hungry.”

C5: “Sure come with me, and you want to take note of which way you are going so you can come back to this area without any problems.”

Define Power and Powerlessness

Analysis of Pastoral Care
To identify dysfunctional/righteous uses of anger
Identify feelings of discomfort
Identify aggressive and belligerent behavior
Familial stressors and impact
Emotional stress and its role

The following verbatim only confirms the
· Discomfort you may experience when trying to give care to patients and families.
· It may be hard to care for family members who are aggressive and belligerent
· You may be capable of looking beyond any frustrations and derogatory comments made by family of patients and give good pastoral care.
· It is a stressful time for families brought on by events such as traumatic deaths, traumatic/serious injuries, and life threatening situations
· Providing to the patient a sacred and spiritual place to deposit their anguish and pain
· People who respond to emergencies encounter highly stressful events almost every day. Sometimes an event is so traumatic or overwhelming that emergency responders may experience significant stress reactions. As a result of these types of encounters there are emotional, behavioral, cognitive and physiological reactions that might occur.
· In stressful incidents I thought my best work with these type patients and families is when I immediately give the best care possible to the patient and the family. In this event I had to deal with my emotion of anger and disdain for the family that I knew was hostile toward me.
In the midst of abuse from this family I was able to deal with my immediate feelings and keep moving as if nothing happened or was abnormal about the moment. In a case where the family dishonored me I felt as though I had to make a decision as to the attitude I would have in helping this family.
To give good care this must involve spiritual and emotional senses and quick decisions have to be made. At a time where this could have went either way I felt an obligation to my own training and professional identity of putting this family first. Also in their crisis I had to quickly understand their anger and although there was no death, their grief.
Psychological and Family Implications
This family and the patient were both loud and angry. Psychologically they were feeling emotions of intense pain and mental trauma. They were uncontrollable to a certain extent and I could never tell what their next reaction may have been. They were unpredictable and unable to express what it was that they needed in the moment. I felt as though the care they needed was someone who would understand not just the pain but their psychological and emotional state as well.

Self Evaluation
Claiming God and Reclaiming Dignity by Edward Wimberly was the book I used to launch my theological discussion with self about ministering to angry families. This book along with a couple of experiences in the ED, during this rotation allowed me to look at incidents, care of families and how it affects me personally, professionaly and theologically.
Edward Wimberly in his book uses Earnest Gaines’s book A Lesson Before Dying The Power Of Transforming And Connecting With Humanity And God. This for me may have been an afterthought or difficult but through the gift of providing to the patient a sacred and spiritual place to deposit their anguish and pain I have tried to awaken within myself a new door for ministry to patients. The book was a difficult read but after many attempts it took on a new life and I was able to move through it understanding the importance of the patient who does not look like the major dominate culture in American society. They may lack the empowerment and understanding of life to fully benefit from the pastoral aspect of the time we spend together. Yet they are human enough for me to look deeper into the pastoral/patient/family relationship and find the power that allows transformation in the family, patient and me. He mentions moving beyond the one-time conversation model into the “growing in perfection,” which is the life-long process of faithful service to God by the caregiver and extension of grace to patients.
Along with the aspects of grace and sanctification Wimberley moved me into the three areas known as prefiguring, configuring and transfiguring. It is based upon the patient’s prior knowledge to the encounter, the process of change or redemption in the midst of the action. The visit(s) can take the form of the sanctification process such as Ernest Gaines’ character Jefferson seeing the dying Jesus on the cross or take the form of me, the chaplain becoming the sounding board for abuse directed at me which would be my worst case scenario. With the patients here there is not as much as a glimpse of the dying Jesus, but does the visit have the power to open the ministry door to transformation of patient and chaplain. With each visit and encounter I am beginning to see more and more the affect that sickness and incapacity have on us all. We begin to share in the patient’s story the family’s story and our own stories that bring healing. We begin the process of creating a covenant with the patient that we will be conduits of good and/or righteousness.
What ever role the patient or family places me in I am able to conform to the moment hoping for the least of a good “pastoral visit.” It is in the visit that I find power not only for the patient but for me to reclaim and systematically through self care process and connect to my own internalized thoughts and self held conversations.
The book Understanding Race, Ethnicity and Power: the Key to Efficacy in Clinical Practice, by Elaine Penderhughes (chapter 6 Understanding Power) gives me more insight to the differential of power between patients, families and staff. There are differences in ethnicity, race and power and she tries to unfold the difference and give the value of circumstances that may impact me in negative ways. Patients see themselves one way, staff another and families another also. We have tried to cover cross-cultural work but there are situations that are intra-cultural issues.
It was hard for me to tell if I was being helpful in a pastoral sense or was I identified with the power structure of the hospital.
My assumption: I was viewed by this family as the black man for black families and they wanted to cut to the chase by having someone that they perceived as having real power and authority to serve them. Remember they wanted someone who knew what was going on or what they were talking about. My stature as chaplain was different from theirs and I now see that not only race was an issue but my occupation, dress, appearance, etc. Wimberley’s words of prefiguring along with their own experiences in hospital and my desire to transfigure something or someone all made for (Penderhughes’) differentials of power.
My response to go with the flow and mellow the atmosphere with plenty of self control spoke more of my prefiguring and old responses versus any clinical responses. Or were my old Christian graceful mannerisms in need of bolstering by the liberation/existentialism theology that says abuse from abusers no matter what color, denomination, class or sexual orientation should not be tolerated. What should be important to me is my own power, needs, responses and management in the moment including the care and condition of the family.
Ministering to angry families is a special ministry. The problem is to determine if the anger is directed toward me as the chaplain or elsewhere. The first point I had to learn was that people must be empowered, especially when a situation as rendered them helpless.
Anger is Power.
As I think about the differences in patients and families I find that there are distinctive variations in their dispositions from one patient and family to the next. The one commonality is that each family and patient is there in hospital to be served by staff of the hospital. How they are served is determined by the policy of each hospital and staff member. The level of care and involvement of staff, families, patients and generally speaking the staff of the hospital comes from a dedicated, caring and courageous group. Once care and treatment have begun there is movement toward what is best for the patient. Families and patients are offered levels of care based on their need. Some patients and families require/desire more care than others. This didactic is about the treatment of the patient and family and the chaplain’s pastoral role and how it might be established in the face of anger and disrespect given by the patient and or family.
If the chaplain is treated poorly they will feel humiliated and disrespected. Respect and recognition of the chaplain’s role is important to especially the chaplain. The chaplain establishes this role based upon their own instinctive desire to serve families and patients. What is desired by the chaplain is to be needed, respected and recognized. The refusal of pastoral care by the patient and family can be dealt with according to each occasion that arises. There is a mutual understanding that refusal of pastoral care comes with the territory. However to be disrespected and ignored raises other emotions and feelings within.
I have to ask myself how I deal with this rush of emotion that overwhelms me when families in particular find ways to disrespect me as spiritual care giver in a traumatic situation?
Who was I dealing with and how do they interpret my role?
· I am a chaplain in the system and my ways, my looks and behavior speak volumes.
· Chaplain role is defined and interpreted by the patient and family as employee of the hospital.
· Chaplain wears the employee identification badge and is dressed according to standards of the department.
· Patients and families are outside of the culture of the hospital and they are not a part of the system.
· They have come to a hospital to be served by a system that prides itself in serving anyone regardless of nationality, creed, sex, etc.
· When the family arrives at hospital they (the patient and/or family) may be alone, frightened and skeptical of the care that they may receive spiritually or medically.
· This may be the cause for the anger they may express toward chaplain, staff or others.
How does race and culture play a role?
· As an African American male, some of the issues are when people of color abuse and disrespect people of color who are trying to serve them
· Based upon race, class, culture you may feel threatened by the family of the patients who came into the ED as Trauma Alpha
· You may have feelings of humiliation and anger, cause of their behavior; especially from same race, class or culture
· Who does the family identify with, the patient, the support staff, the medical team, or security?
My Own Cultural identification:
I have feelings that relate me to the patient’s family no matter who they are if I am right, sometimes feeling powerless as an African American male in America. Does staff or others of a different culture, class or race including visitors dismiss them as ignorant or do they sympathize or feel empathy for them because their loved one is in the trauma bay.
Dr. Davis also speaks of divergent identification where the minority group may feel alien to the culture of the hospital and feel powerless or invisible. I agree with the writing that it is possible for a traumatized chaplain to provide adequate care to a traumatized family whose point of view is radically different from mine and so different that it challenges my
Is my identification tied so closely that inside I cheer their boldness to scream and holler at the system that never seems to be attuned to the powerless? It is both primordial and powerful that I chose to support and care for people who are abusive and yet give adequate pastoral care that gives my calling purpose and identification. I am able to offer pastoral care and that I have done so even in the face of an angry patient or family. I am able especially when the anger is directed toward me.

Still on a MIssion!

The Fruit and Veggieman of Baltimore

Hello world, I am still on a mission to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth.  However we do not have to go very far.  AS my friend Nehpets Ybakcuh would say, "Where in the world is Father Meadows?"  I have landed in Silver Spring MD to serve on a wonderful clergy team lead by Father Andrew Walter. Associate Rector Rev. Amanda Akes takes care of the children, youth and families.  My position is the Associate Rector of Pastoral Care.  The great part is God's assignments take us by the hand and land us in some marvelous although troubled places.  Yes that is an oxymoron but true never-the-less.  The church is in upscale, Silver Spring, comfortable living, etc.  The church is a wonderful example of God's Grace in the world of Washington DC.  It is a global church, with people from the four corners of the earth who attend.

I live in Baltimore, I now see the small picture and something is about to go down.  I am constantly asking what's next Lord and although I can not see around the corner to the big picture I try to focus each day on the small one; the homeless, the hungry, the small beautiful children at Cherry Hill Elementary in B-more, the men who sleep in tents on the streets, the folks who are high out of their minds, a man sleeping in a planter in front of a downtown business, the many races and languages at Lexington Market and even the good looking folks with all sorts of "heart trouble."  I can see what God is doing, God is stretching me and molding me and making me, still.  Sharing Grace is the theme for this year at Grace and now is the time to share the wonderful, marvelous, glorious works of God.  Today I am just going to look around and say Lord, unveil what you'd have me to do.  I am ready!  Yes, I know it may get hard, but I shall endure like the runner who knows the race is not given to the swift nor to the strong but to the one who hangs on til the end.  Peace and love.

The downtown Harbor

 A small book library on the street

Two beautiful murals

Will you Go?

What is truly meant when in the sermon last week, we kind of agreed that being called to the harvest is not easy. The question mid-week has to be, did anyone really agree to go? Or is the Reverend just making some assumptions? The sermon “was good,” but did anyone sign on to become part of the harvest recovery system. I like that term, HRS. My beloved it is not easy and as my mom would say “easier said than done.“ Is the expectation each week for the preacher, that members will be moved to action? Yes. Am I sure that this is occurring? I don’t know. 

So I must depend on you to tell me that you have been moved to action. My gut tells me that the people who do, will keep on doing. The one who thinks about doing, will keep on thinking and the one who just don’t have the time, will not find the time in the near future. My target is the one who is sitting on the fence trying to figure out what God is doing in their life. Yes, the one who is thinking about doing. The one is not going to, well we will talk about that later.

The wonderful work of harvesting gives you choices, remember I mentioned St. Luke you will plant seeds that will grow, your will water and you will provide the yeast that will cause exponential growth. The church is concerned with the sowing and watering. Jesus speaks of fertilizing, dung, harvesters with sickles, etc. well that is the hard part, but our work involves making space, community and fertile ground for those who dare to come to this wonderful beloved community of Christ. 

So to my thinkers, who are trying to figure out how they can work in the vineyard, the next two Sunday’s sermons may help. I just want to share a Jewish extension of the OT through what’s known as Midrash.

Rabbi Yoshua ben Levi came upon Elijah the prophet while he was standing at the entrance of Rabbi Simeron ben Yohai's cave . . . He asked Elijah, "When will the Messiah come?" Elijah replied, "Go and ask him yourself." "Where is he?" "Sitting at the gates of the city." "How shall I know him?" "He is sitting among the poor covered with wounds. The others unbind all their wounds at the same time and then bind them up again. But he unbinds one at a time and binds it up again, saying to himself, 'Perhaps I shall be needed: if so I must always be ready so as not to delay for a moment."' (Taken from the tractate Sanhedrin)

You will be called upon in the midst of your pain and brokenness to stop what you’re doing and participate as one of the laborers. It is your sacrifice and care that will make the difference in the lives of others. It is you who will perhaps be present with them in the midst of their pain and suffering. I don’t know but join me in the process. Boy I love you.

Breathe St. Lukes

Grace and Peace to you all on this First Sunday (July 7th) of New Ministry for us. The joy that you and the various committees have brought to Linda and I is un-explainable and undeniable. Senior Warden Noel, the Vestry and the Search Committee chaired by Isabel have given the full expression of the Glory of God in Christ Jesus. Whenever we felt anxious or wondered what was going to happen they stepped in and smoothed out the bumpy places. So we say Thank You. 

I came in on last Wednesday and the compassion corner of St. Luke’s was in full swing, the breakfast, the clothes closet, and food pantry were serving 100+ people, the Praise Dancers, Georgia and Deacon Howard. If you have not experienced any of it you are missing God’s Hands on earth in action. I am truly impressed by their dedication. I envision working closely with the ministries of this church and with each and every one of you. I come in the name of the true and living God and our eyes have not seen nor our ears heard what God has planned for us. I was given a prophetic word by Father Demming and his love for you is unwavering.

Join me often in the ministry work and the plans for Bible Study, Youth, Christian Education and serving not only the congregation but the community. We are on an evangelistic tour, beginning with our door step, journey with me and we will not stop until we've reached the uttermost parts of the world. Sound ambitious? Yes it is! But it’s in your DNA, just look at The Diocese of Haiti; they are a ministry and mission of this church. 

My love for you is through Christ, Peace and Love

Fr. Meadows+ & Linda

The Failure of Fear

1 Kings 17:8-16 (17-24)

The word of the LORD came to Elijah, saying, "Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you." So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink." As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." But she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth." She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.

 The Failure of Fear

 Two things come from text. 1. There are times of drought in our lives. And in the midst of drought 2. a perspective of hospitality. This morning I’m going to ride the rail of hospitality.
Henri Nouwen wrote, In his book Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. “The church is perhaps one of the few places left where we can meet people who are different than we are but with whom we can form a larger family.” "To form a healthy expression of that “larger family” the parish needs to become more and more a community of hospitality. Hospitality both for the stranger and also for the existing congregation.

 His model of spiritual life might be seen in images. Images of poles and the movement between poles. The poles are total polar opposites." The spiritual life is that constant movement between the poles of loneliness and solitude, hostility and hospitality, illusion and prayer. The more we come to the painful confession of our loneliness, hostility and illusions, the more we are able to see solitude, hospitality and prayer as part of the vision of our life. It is indeed difficult to move from fear to faith. Hopelessness to hopefulness.

 As I look at my own life and my reason for being here I confess that priest have these tedious lives.
The life of the priest is filled with moments of wonderment. We baptize your babies, we marry your children, we bury your loved ones, we stand at your loved ones bedsides and watch as they take their last breaths, we stand at gravesides with tears in our eyes, the graduations, the accidents, the suicides, the broken hearts, the times of refreshing and yet there are times when we still may feel alone. Surrounded by a congregation and these strange but real feelings arise. We may seem as though we bear them well. Lives filled with Wonderment yes, but sometimes our lives are filled with despair.

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)
We Wear the Mask It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,— 
This debt we pay to human guile; 
 With torn and bleeding hearts we smile, 
 And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise, 
 In counting all our tears and sighs? 
 Nay, let them only see us, while 
 We wear the mask. We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries 
 To thee from tortured souls arise. 
 We sing, but oh the clay is vile 
 Beneath our feet, and long the mile; 
 But let the world dream otherwise, 
 We wear the mask!

We hold it together. We suck it up. We act as though nothing has happened. We act as though it does not matter, but yes my brothers and sisters it does matter. It does hurt and we do cry. We feel your pain, we bear the burdens, we know that that cross is heavy, but we bear it anyhow, bear it anyhow because Jesus said it would get easier.

However it is the combination of hospitality even in a reluctant form and dry times in our lives that the text today leans toward. We get our bread and water from the widows and the weak.
This is where the hope is. The good news. Yes, There are dessert places in our lives. Times when our deepest despair is inwardly magnified and feelings of hostility, loneliness, and dark illusions fill our souls. We find that we have been rejected by those who we thought loved us and we now have to live in a new reality called hopelessness. If you’ve ever been overcome by hopelessness you consider options where there is no future. You lose sight of where real good loving is. You drift from the good times of prosperity and health, toward feelings of drought, famine and disease of the soul. You succumb to feelings of self loathing, self hate and self destruction.

You no longer live nor long to rise in the arms of faith but barreling on a downward spiral that will not end well. But our text tells us In the midst of dry places, in the midst of storms, in the midst of famine, there is hope. That’s what today’s text is about, a woman who has lost hope, a son who has nothing to offer and a stranger who has a strange request of the mother who is a widow.

When she obeys the man of God she moves aside her fears and exercises a measure of faith. That’s what is takes to overcome fear and doubt, faith. Mother Isabelle Atchinson would say starve your doubt and feed your faith. In tough times it takes faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. It is the unseen future that provides a different reality than our circumstances may dictate. The new reality, a new way of thinking, a new way of seeing, the prism of faith gives us the proverbial rose colored glasses to see things not the way they are, but the way they shall be, when God gets through. In famine and times of despair God becomes our reality.

He’s so high we can’t get over Him. So wide we cant get around him. So low we can’t get under him the song writer would say.
God’s reality erases fear, when faith moves in.
Fear builds more mountains, Faith moves mountains,
Fear extinguishes hope, faith sustains hope.
Fear has us conclude that there is no future and faith helps us create not only a future but assures of that life it is not futile.

The women’s story is our story, she is a widow, she is nameless, not because she is not important but so that you may insert your name, her story is our story, if not through connecting in her poverty, then in her despair… the text reveals to us, everything is going to be alright. Isn't that just like God. Beloved, together, priest and people, We go through, famines, floods, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, turmoil, wars, and a still small voice from heaven comes and tells us The Lord will make away somehow.

Paul Says, 
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope, …

Interjection of faith…faith moves in…and a little meal and oil is enough.
Faith moves in and the jug of oil does not run dry til its season has ended.
Faith moves in and the young man and the mother live.
Faith moves in and fear moves out.

Finally, faith is full of promises. A little meal and a little oil means for the woman and her son a future. That’s why Jesus, the Text and Henri Noewen are striving to get us to understand that hospitality gives the traveler, the sojourner rest for the soul.

To my weary travelers on the road of life I leave you with this song written by my godmother Loretta’s Anderson’s grandfather the late Charles A. Tindley, a Methodist preacher in Philadelphia PA, wrote

1. Life is like a mountain railway,
With an engineer that's brave;
We must make the run successful,
From the cradle to the grave;
Watch the curves, the fills, the tunnels;
Never falter, never quail;
Keep your hands upon the throttle,
And your eyes upon the rail.

Blessed Savior, Thou wilt guide us,
Till we reach that blissful shore,
When the Angels wait to join us
In Thy praise for evermore.

2. You will roll up grades of trial;
You will cross the bridge of strife;
See that Christ is your conductor
On this lightning train of life;
Always mindful of obstruction,
Do your duty, never fail;
Keep your hands upon the throttle,
And your eyes upon the rail. Amen.

We've Just Seen Jesus

Photo: Easter 2013  Celebration Service @ Walt Disney World ~Jesus Christ is Risen...John 20:1-18, Alleluia!And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why are you crying? who are you looking for? She, believing him to be the gardener, said unto him, Sir, if you have taken him somewhere else him hence, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus said unto her, Mary. She turned and said unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus said unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

The last verse I just read from John the 20th chapter tells us why Mary is a Witness of the truth. That is what each of this morning, if not already, from henceforth may be referred to as witnesses. In a court of law I can say under oath that I have seen each and everyone of you and that you were present here today. If needed I could press my memory, I could pull from my memory and say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I saw our musician Brad here this resurrection morning 2013. In order to be a witness I have to have had to either seen and/or heard something. Any thing less than seeing or hearing would be circumstantial at best. Even noted as hear say.

The problem comes when our information or testimony that we give is suspect. The great part of a good testimony is always no matter how it sounds it is indeed factual. It is truth. It is based upon what you have seen or heard. This Sunday morning we are witnesses to the gathering of a Christian community for many many places.

We are witnesses to the power and greatness of God because we are gathered, as the rainbow has any colors, we are represented by every color of human existence. Here today as the lyricist writes in Christ the is no east or west, no north or south only his body, and we who are many are one because of The Lord Jesus Christ.
The reason we are one is factually based on what one woman, whose character could have come into question. Her psychological, and mental health would have come into question. Who she associated and hung around with would come into question. However on that morning, at the end of the Passover she saw The Lord.

She has a wonderful dialogue that begins with fear, trepidation, grief and loss. There is confusion because she expects to find the body of Jesus and he is not there. She and any that were with here were perplexed. Their expectation is that they will find a body. They will complete his burial and the grief would and could begin. This is to be the conclusion of the ordeal. The betrayal, arrest, the accusations, the judgement, the possible release, the denial, the beatings, the march up the via Delarosa. The crucifixion at Calvary, the brutality of the cross, His cries and uttering, the death, the claiming of his body, the borrowing of a tomb and finally rest for one Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph and Mary.

But then something else occurs, that is the hope in the message, the good news in our lives that whenever we think or feel the worst has happened, we grow anxious, nervous, perplexed even then, The Lord is able to send a ray of hope. When life leaves us with fear and trepidation, grief and loss, sickness and despair, the human heart finds an encounter with Jesus and we become the witnesses of strength in weakness, joy in sorrow, richness in poverty and an indomitable spirit in the midst of a tragedy. it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we don't where they have laid him. They run to the tomb, look inside see he is gone and they return home.

Mary, still there alone not believing that he was gone, crying stoops down looking into the tomb sees two angels in white, one at the head and one at the foot where Jesus would have been. The angels ask her why is she crying? Because you have taken him and I don't know where. She turns, when she sees that Jesus is not in the tomb, and is asked by the man a question the person who she believed to be the Gardner, "Why are you crying and who are you looking for? She asks him, in return, what have you done with his body? She tells him..let me know where you have laid him and I will go and get him. Just like a little lady, they do have superhuman strength. Most moms do, right?

We like Mary become the witnesses to the power of Jesus' resurrection. Life is not easy so Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians, that we must know Him or experience in in the fellowship of His sufferings so that we may know Him in the power of his resurrection. That's what happened this glorious morning for Mary and this is what we've come to celebrate, that when Mary, and the others reached the tomb he was not there. He had indeed risen from the dead.
It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. But here comes the truth not only does Jesus appear to Mary but after she runs and tells the others that I've seen The Lord, The Lord himself appears to the disciples, blesses them with peace, and tells themes the father has. Sent me I send you. In Matthew 28 Jesus tells them all power in heaven and earth have been given unto him, and as witnesses, go into all the world, baptizing and teaching and growing, and loving and making disciples of all. This morning is evidence that the plan and the command worked.

We have gathered this morning from all over the world. You are friends of Jesus, you are Mary's friends, you are now witnesses and bearers of the good news, the The Lord has risen indeed. Invitation

My Father and My Son


No Greater LoveRichard D. Meadows, Sr.  The last words spoken by my dad were a question.  He asked me "Are you my father?" Strangely I slowly answered, "Yes, I am."  For over fifty years my father has been my friend, He tried to be a father on several occasions, sure the graduations, the first wedding, a couple other times that were disastrous but he tried without much success, but he was a good friend. This past seven months he came to live with me, he was at the VA nursing center but still it was with me.  I saw him several times per week and we chatted about this and that, and on only one occasion did we dig into the deeper meanings of life.  I knew where he stood on most things in life except on me.  However we did part ways in most visits with the words I love you. The hours in the last months made the past 50 years stranger.  Did I really know him like sons know fathers? Were the last few months intentionally orchestrated by our Father? Whatever the case maybe I am just grateful that the last few months happened.  It enabled me to reconcile some thoughts and hash out some ideas of what our lives together have been about.  He died on February 19th, around 4:15 pm.  I saw him breathe his last breath, I felt the room go quiet from the silencing of the machines. The quiet and stillness reminded me of the silence of peace moving into chaos, when hope is lost, and the final outcome is only death of this physical body.  It reminds me that although life is over, it continues, it reminds me that I am a son who misses his father and I am a father who misses his son. I have a grandson who I love and he loves me, we talk and laugh and cry together, the strange part is he is only seven. His dad was my friend but I also made sure I was his father.

Are you my father?  My dad asks me. I am his father, I am his son, I am his friend. I dreamed last night about Donald Winnicott and the Transitional Object, it has to do with his Object Relations Theory.  I felt like I did become his father to help him transition from this life to the next. I was able to help him navigate the bitter pains of death.

On two occasions I have not been able to "rescue" my sons.  BUT! My hope and trust, and the joy I find is far beyond these years.  There is so much hope within me that and it stretches into eternity,  I will find peace, I will find love, I will find my father and I will find my sons.

Thank you Father.

Ashes to Go!!

Ash Wednesday

Remembering from dust we have come and to dust we shall return is a concept we are familiar with, but to my surprise I spent most of the day explaining just what this "Ash thing"  meant.  The young people I met, especially did not know what it meant.  But there was this gleam in their eye and and a look of tell me more.  That is what I enjoyed most, when people had no clue what ashes were for.  Their lack of knowledge allowed me to delve deeper into who Christ is, then I thought what a great witness tool, something people don't know about to get to a deeper conversation about salvation and the relationship available in Christ.   I ran into the cutest couple who briskly and happily circling the park with the mark on their heads, we had a great laugh when I told them they were great for business. Yes, Ashes are good for business and we owe it to the world to talk about this great salvation in the terms of the laity. It can be difficult and let me explain why.

This wonderfully enlightening day was on the heels of listening to a Diane Rhem radio show episode on public radio (NPR) about Why Priests: "A Failed Tradition!" a book by Gary Willis. Her guest was Gary. This show was about a man who  said " I have nothing against priests. In fact I tried for a time to be one." His premise was that the church could get along without priests.  Ashe Wednesday and the whimsical looks, the looks of great anticipation as I marked the foreheads of some, the smiles when some said no, and the looks some gave me as if I was from outer-space, decked in a stole, a small can of black ashes in my hand and a cardboard handmade sign that read Ashes To Go! made me realize why the tradition lives.  When other traditions have come and gone, governments have risen and failed, the church stands firm and ready to proclaim how great God is.  This Ash Wednesday, was a moment when I could say this is why I am a Priest. A servant of the Almighty Creator, ordained by the church and loved by its people. This day was inspired by the people and dedicated to the people of St. Richard's Episcopal Church. No regrets.

My handout read

We’re offering ashes on the street corner today because that reminder of need, humility, and healing shouldn’t be confined to a church building. We probably need it more when we are in the
middle of our daily business! The ashes we receive here are to remind us throughout the day of our need for God, and of God’s call to us. There is much more to the beginning of Lent than ashes alone, and we encourage you to make time for worship with a community of faith, for the support of others and of the great traditions of faith in our work of repentance and renewal. But God meets us not just in worship, but in the midst of life, and we offer the opportunity to remember our faith to those whose schedules make it hard to stop and pray with others today. 

Just When You Thought You'd Be Discouraged

Our lives are complex and distinct. Yet one thing we have in common is that no one is exempt from discouragement. Discouragement is strange because it is both acute and chronic; acute is it comes and goes and chronic if we are in a long-term funk. Long term sometimes because the discouraging acts come in waves and acute because we can bounce back quickly. I like to think that the bouncy way is better.

I was taken for a real ride at the end of this past year and what happened was a sucker punch from left field. Whenever you don’t see it coming it’s a sucker punch. The story is long and boring, and I don’t have enough GBs to tell you, so I will not. Plus it’s not what I want to focus on. The conversation I want to have is about just when you think you’d be (chronically) discouraged something happens. Just as the heavens, angelic beings, shepherds, men from the east and the Holy Spirit came together to bring love down at Christmas time, the Trinity comes together to tell you don’t fear, heaven is on your side.

The real issue is will you allow the events of the past year to immobilize your functioning in the coming months. Will you succumb to the obvious which is discouragement or will you take the lessons learned, relationships fractured, love lost, and disrespect or just down right unlovable folks remaining unlovable to restore you to a state of illumined enlightenment? The other option is to as Jill would say identify the absence of love, institute it and make it easier for God to move on your behalf. Sounds like the latter will work for me. I’m so in tuned to the God Atmosphere that I know by allowing the IE to happen somebody is going to be encouraged. I have had to teach on love for the past few weeks on the radio show Liberating Truth and realizing I must practice what I preach. It’s easy for me to do it because too much of my well being is tied to the fact that I refuse to remain discouraged.

So quickly review:
1.) Stuff is going to happen to us
       2.) God knows
             3.) It’s up to you how long you remain discouraged
                   4.) The discouragement becomes a place of renewal

I have walked on the beach, watched a couple sunsets, walked a labyrinth, went to see Les Miserables twice, read a couple books got a great team of supporters. I am planning the next steps because on each of these paths God is with me. Believeth thou this?

Courtney Dion Meadows Born 5/9/1983 - Heaven Date 5/2/2005 "My Friend Lives" I desired Peace in the Process and I arrived at Justice. I pray for his shooter...May God give him peace.

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