The Resurrection appearances of Jesus always make me chuckle. This is not to be disrespectful of Jesus, but the gospel writers have him popping up here and there, when you least expect him.
The women meet him on the road as they leave the tomb in Matthew’s gospel; Mary meets him in the garden in John, he appears to the disciples while they huddle in fear behind locked doors; some of the followers have an encounter with him on the Road to Emmaus and he appears to others while they are out fishing.
One thing is clear. They had to leave the tomb to meet the Risen One. He was not among the grave cloths, or the debris of the boulders, or with the angels or fainting soldiers. And in a couple of situations they did not know him until after the fact.
I met the Risen One on Sunday evening. I didn’t know it at the time either. It’s a feeling that I am still left with several days later.
It was at a First Birthday blessing party for Athena, a little girl who emigrated from the Philippines last year with her parents. It was an honour to be invited to the party, to be asked to say a prayer and give a blessing as part of a larger ritual. AT that supper I reconnected with a couple that I married a number of years ago, had a good visit with friends, and met a community of families and friends new to Canada from the Philippines.
It was a great party – lots of laughter, food and conversation. Athena, and another baby cousin, fell asleep before the opening of the presents. We talked and waited for them to wake up. Athena slept on the floor of the living room on a blanket, and her cousin on the couch. Everyone had a chance to see the sleeping birthday girl and she continued to be the center of attention even when sleeping. Finally she woke up, and we had the gift “opening” – most of the gifts opened by young cousins and friends who just couldn’t wait for her to rip open the waiting gift bags.
AS I think about that night – it was an encounter with the Body of Christ – the living church at worship beyond church walls. Jesus was there amongst us; in the singing of hymns, in the sharing of traditional Filipino foods, in the cutting and sharing of the birthday cake, in the conversations about concerns about children, and work and life. As with the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, I met him “in the breaking of the bread”. Darwin, Pam and I got to be there as part of the chosen church family that Athena’s mom and dad have picked at this time in their lives.
He was also there in the bonds of family, friendship and faith; and in the gift of love present for this little girl, who is love incarnate even with her name –Athena – the goddess of love.
This is an excerpt from the Blessing Service compiled by Roel and Arlene. I invite you think of a child or children that you know and their parents and pray this prayer with them in mind.
All: Almighty God, Divine Parent, we ask for your Blessing here today. Protect our family and community and surround us with your infinite unconditional live. Keep us mindful that the miracle of incarniation is both a gift and a path back to you.
Parents: For a year we have watched you shine. An angel we can call mine sent from Heaven, just for us. Filled with hope and dignity, a blessing now and always. You brighten all our days, precious child. We love you so, more than anyone could know.
All: I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. May God’s blessing rest upon you, may His peace abide with you, and may Her presence illuminate you heats now and forever more.