Every Holy Week brings its blessings. This past Palm/Passion Sunday I was blessed to be with our brothers and sisters at Hollywood UMC considering our own lives in the reflection of those who were present on that Passover that led to what we now know as Holy Week. How’s our relationship with Jesus called Messiah? Do we love him, hate him enough to seen him crucified, or with Pontius Pilate just want to wash our hands of him? Wherever we are on the spectrum of faith, it is true that Jesus loves us, unconditionally, is willing to take our place on the cross, and never lets us go.
On Wednesday of this Holy Week I spent time with a little girl named Wendy of Redondo Beach UMC who is so full of the love of God that she believes that she and her “Mosquito Club” can overcome malaria! When I asked her why this work is so important to her she said to me, “Because it is a serious illness and no child should die from it.” She is a tiny little girl whose seriousness about life for children makes me want to do my work ever more faithfully. She reminds me that life is what this week is all about. God in Christ Jesus wants life for all God’s children.
Wednesday evening I met with the servant leaders of Christ UMC – A Ministry Center in San Diego. You may remember that just a few years ago Christ UMC was closed but it did not cease to be a center of ministry. I invited myself to come and visit them with their district superintendent. I wanted to see for myself what was happening, because what I was hearing was that there was a resurrection happening at this place. What I saw and heard is a real life resurrection by God’s grace! Where life seemed to be waning we now have a multi-cultural congregation: Anglo, African-American, Hispanic and Haitian! When I asked them how this had happened, their lead pastor shared and all confirmed that when they let go and placed everything in God’s hands, God blessed them with resurrection! It is life lived in the example of Jesus who on the cross cried out to God, “…into your hands I entrust my life,” and died, but God resurrected him and through him gives us abundant life and even life eternal.
As I write this it is Maundy Thursday and I have spent the morning with the Episcopal and Lutheran bishops in San Diego. Together we served Holy Communion then led an ecumenical gathering of disciples of Jesus in washing the feet of brothers and sisters who are homeless and then feeding them. Doctors cared for their bodies while veterinarians cared for their pets. I was so very privileged to wash the feet of Lupe, John, Jeff and Scott. We had holy conversation as we served each other, for they washed away the burdens of my life as I washed their feet.
One young Roman Catholic volunteer came up and introduced herself to me and began to tell me how it was that she was with us. She lives in downtown San Diego and had come to resent the homeless. Her resentment began to bother her soul and so she prayed that God would free her of her resentment. It was not the way she wanted to feel about brothers and sisters suffering homelessness. She had learned about this Maundy Thursday gathering and time of service and had signed up with little clear awareness of what it would entail. When she arrived this morning she learned that she was on the list of those who would be washing the feet of the homeless! Tears of joy welled up in her eyes as she said to me through a broad smile, “I knew immediately that it was God’s answer to my prayer! God heard me and attended to my spiritual need!” There is no doubt that God attends to all our needs letting us know in simple and in grand ways that we are beloved of God, all of us.
I can hardly wait for other blessings of this Holy Week as we journey through the rest of this day, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and then Resurrection Sunday! You are in my prayers. Come Sunday may we all joyfully proclaim in the words of Mary Magdalene, “I have seen the Lord.”
Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño
Los Angeles Area Resident Bishop
The United Methodist Church