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April 10, 2011

Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands,
and that he had come from God and was going to God,
4got up from the table, took off his outer robe,
and tied a towel around himself.
5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
-John 13:3-5 NRSV

This passage always touches my heart. It is tender, and gentle and humble and so beautiful. The gesture of washing someone else’s feet is very intimate. Just imagine….how well do we like someone looking at our feet let alone washing our feet? How many people even when they are going to get a pedicure will tidy up their feet before someone else sees them? The disciples would have had dirty, dusty feet. Dirty from walking along dusty roads that also had donkeys, camels and goats that had walked the same path. Hard callouses would have clung to their heels and yet Jesus gets down on his hands and knees to wash the feet of his friends. He didn’t have to do it. Someone would have washed his feet if he had asked but instead he did this simple loving thing unasked and with great love.

This one act sums up what and who Jesus was. The act showed the tenderness, care and presence of God in the everyday humble acts that we do for one another. As we prepare to journey through Lent to the glory and mystery of Easter morning let us look to this simple gesture of love and remember that we are loved by God. Remember that God is present in every moment and that we are cared for just like the disciples with Jesus at their feet.

May you learn to rest deeper in God and may the journey of Lent bring you closer to understanding that “we are not alone”.


Rev. Carla Van Delen
St. Paul’s United Church, Richmond


After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ -Matthew 28:1-8

Each time I read a passage about the Easter Miracle I am touched by it in a new way. It no longer matters to me so much that I don’t know how God did this miracle, but what fascinates me is that something did happen on that morning so long ago that forever transformed the lives of those who saw and touched once again their teacher and their friend Jesus. It made such a difference to the life of a few people two thousand years ago that their witness has stretched out across the distance of time to touch our lives today. That is powerful stuff. For me Jesus isn’t about “religion” it is about the transformation that he brings to the lives of those who choose to seriously think about what his life and message can mean for them today. For me the story of Jesus’ resurrection is about looking for new life in the ashes that are all around us: the nightly news, our community, or in our own lives. What new green, growing thing is sprouting right now, right under our noses that we haven’t as yet noticed? Some may think Christians are overly optimistic but I like to think that we are practical people who know how to dream big.

It is hard to believe that this time last year I was writing a letter to introduce myself to you as your new minister. In my introductory letter I spoke about how I was looking forward to walking and working with you on the dreams that you have for this ministry in Richmond and I think we have begun that walk. In the past year there have been joys and great sadness. But through all of it we have supported one another and I have to say that I find your spirit to be a true blessing to this place.

I leave you with my Easter blessing for you:  May the Lord of Light ease your burden, bring you comfort and stir you to dream big. May you find the new life of Easter in the most unlikely of places.

Rev. Carla Van Delen
St. Paul’s United Church, Richmond Ontario

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