planet Earth from space (credit: unknown)

Today is the annual celebration of Earth Day! It is a day for us to recall the natural gifts we have been given which nourish and sustain us. Whenever I see a picture of our planet, like the one here, I am astounded to realize that we are but travelers through a vast universe! I know that sounds cheesy, but think about it; we are on a ball which is moving quickly on a path it has travelled for millions of years. We are truly passengers on a vessel, and this vessel has all the equipment necessary for our survival. We need to properly care for the earth so that we, and future generations, may not only survive but also be able to enjoy the beauty of nature all around us.

St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of ecology, wrote this "Canticle of the Creatures". I urge all of us to spend some time meditating on what we can do to sustain our planet.

"All praise be yours, My Lord, through all that you have made. And first my lord Brother Sun, who brings the day....

How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor! Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars; In the heavens you have made them, bright and precious and fair.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air....

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water, So useful, lowly, precious and pure.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten up the night....

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother, Who feeds us...and produces various fruits With colored flowers and herbs....

Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks, And serve him with great humility."

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Read more: Rest Stop (Friday) ... Earth Day

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He is risen! He is not in the tomb! Can this be true? Could Jesus rise from the dead!? This morning is the beginning of a new chapter for the apostles and for those who put faith in the person of Jesus.  The person whom they thought was dead is no longer in the tomb! What does this all mean?!

Can you even imagine the feelings of the apostles?  Just a week ago the twelve apostles, with Jesus, triumphantly entered Jerusalem.  All was right with the world!  What could go wrong?  Then, on Thursday, one of their own, Judas, hands Jesus over to the Romans who then kill him the next day!  But just a few days ago, scared and confused, the apostles are in hiding.  What do we do when we are scared?  Can you understand why the apostles fled and hid?  I'm not trying to justify their actions, but trying to understand them.

Sunday morning, while the apostles are in hiding, some of the women followers excitedly enter their hiding spot screaming that the body of Jesus is missing from the tomb!  Wait, that's not all; they saw an angel who told them Jesus was alive!  What?!

In a matter of days the apostles go from excitement to fear, to despair, to questioning their beliefs, to confusion to cautious optimism.  Wow! Later,…

Read more: Rest Stop (Easter) ... is this real?

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Holy Saturday, the day after the death of Jesus, Christians await, in hope and in faith, for God to show us a sign that Jesus is truly His son. When we think of the emotions of the followers of Jesus, so sure that He was the savior, to experience His death, their heartbreak and confusion must've been unbearable! Were they duped? How were they so wrong to think that Jesus was God? Yet, because of everything that they experienced while with Jesus, there still exists a sense of hope in their hearts. They don't yet understand, and they are questioning, but they haven't yet fully rejected the belief that Jesus is the son of God.

Taken from the Christian prayer-book "The Liturgy of the Hours", here is an ancient sermon attributed to Easter yet prayed on Holy Saturday.  What does this sermon says to you in your life's journey:

"Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept…

Read more: Rest Stop (Holy Saturday) ... grief, hope, faith

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Love; the complete and selfless giving for another; a desire to allow the other to shine and to grow.  On this day, Good Friday, Christians recall Jesus, who out of love, willingly gave Himself to suffer and to die so that we may shine and grow.  Jesus, the night before, agonized and prayed over this decision of suffering and dying, hoping for another way to carry out our salvation. But in the end, in response to the message Jesus hears in prayer, He says "not my will, but Your will be done." In trust, faith and love Jesus freely suffers and dies for us.

How do we express love for others?  Do we, in faith, trust enough to share our love?  When we are suffering and find life difficult, in faith do we turn to Jesus who not only suffered, but who also found life's situations difficult to endure?

Today, in faith and trust, knowing that Jesus understands what it's like to make difficult decisions, to suffer, to feel physical and emotional pain, and to love, do we turn to Him in prayer and ask for guidance, for strength, for hope, for peace, for .....

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The Last Supper by Da Vinci

As I mentioned in my earlier post, Holy Week is a spiritual time for me filled with much emotion. The apostles who followed Jesus gave up their livelihood and families to follow a person whom they hoped was their longed-for messiah; the savior of the Jewish people.  After spending much time with Jesus, the apostles experience the awesome high of walking into Jerusalem with the crowds praising the man they are following.  Imagine how they felt, knowing that they are with an important person, and they are one of only 12 selected personally by Him!  Think of how this would make you feel.  But then come the events at the end of the week that will change their lives forever.

The night of Passover, as Jesus dines for the last time with his apostles, we learn that one of the selected twelve, Judas, will betray and hand over Jesus to the authorities, and Peter will deny, not once but three times, that he knows Jesus.  The rest of the apostles, the closest friends of Jesus, flee and hide.  Think about this ... one of Jesus' closest companions turns Him over to be arrested; His selected leader, Peter, will deny…

Read more: Rest Stop (Holy Thursday) ... forgiveness from betrayal

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