July 16, 2012 — the fiftieth day since Pentecost

It is the fiftieth day since the fiftieth day since Easter.

Pause and reflect on these days … how is this morning in July shaped by Pentecost still? and how is it shaped by the resurrection?

Here is a reflection on Easter by Thandiwe Gobledale from her time in India.

The singing of evening prayers emanates from the fourth cottage of the orphanage Vellore, India.. I glance at my watch; they are unusually early today. Children crowd near the inside of the door. This seems odd since they usually sit in orderly rows. Leaving my shoes and bag outside, I squeeze into a space in the doorway and see the children, cottage mothers and warden sitting in a circle that touches the edges of the room.

“Jabom. Prayer,” the Warden announces, and the children rise to kneel on the smooth cement floor. They reach out, clasp hands, and connect the circle. The Warden prays. Then Rajesh, the little boy next to her, lifts his voice in prayer, followed by Indumathy next to him, followed by Sujeeth and so forth around the circle, each person lifting a prayer to God. The children, some as young as five years, kneel and pray for an hour trying not to let their stiff knees or the swarming mosquitoes disturb them. These special prayers are for Mathan Kumar, a four year old from our nursery who is very sick and currently in the Pediatrics Intensive Care Unit at Christian Medical College (CMC) Hospital in Vellore.

Mathan died two days after I visited him in the hospital. He never reopened his eyes or spoke another word. He will never again sit in his mother’s lap or recite the A-B-C’s during playschool with the other nursery children. He will never again play on the swings at Pannai or play tag with his friends. His diagnosis? Measles: a disease for which an inoculation is available; a disease from which no child need suffer or die.

Where is God in a world where an innocent child is allowed to die of an easily preventable disease? How can God let this happen? My understanding of God is that God does not let something happen and likewise, God cannot do anything to change the situation. Instead of a God that does, I believe in a God that IS: a God that is present with us in times of trouble and pain as well as in times of joy and celebration, a God in which and through which all being and life exists.

From the cross, Jesus cries out to God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” But God has not forsaken Jesus. God is with him on the cross just as God was with him throughout his life. God was with Madhan and all of us as we experienced the tragedy of his death. At Easter time we so often focus on the resurrection without remembering the pain and grief of death. Death is as much a part of life as birth. At Easter, hope is faith that God is with us now and always. That for everything there is a time and that through all those times, God is ever-present.

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