Lenten greetings, 

Good Friday is the day followers of Christ remember the events leading up to Jesus’s death.
We remember  
the good,
the bad,
and the ugly 
on Good Friday.  

During this pandemic, we all have known so much death, sadness, and fear. These are parts of every living being’s life, but the impacts feel deeply personal, isolating, and without end. From the story of Good Friday, we know the bad and the ugly: Jesus’s journey to and on the cross had so much sadness, fear, and anger. We know Jesus isolated himself. We know Jesus felt so alone.  

The good, the bad, the ugly on this Good Friday…
it is good to remember; 
it is good to retell stories;  
it is good.   

So many influences tell us not to remember or we should do everything we can to forget or we are supposed to move on or we mustn’t talk about it. If we don’t remember our painful moments, if we don’t retell our stories, if we do everything in our power to forget, then how do we heal? How do we leave this imposed isolation of suffering?  

When I remember Jesus’s crucifixion, I take some solace from Jesus the Christ screaming, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?!” because I know I’m not the only one who has said these words. As the Indigenous Spiritual Care Chaplain at First United, I’ve heard so many life stories, where Christ’s proclamation before death is  
quietly murmured with numbness or  
sobbed and wailed or  
filled with swear words or 
mumbled through hysterical laughter.   

When someone bravely cries out some form of “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?!” and retells their own story, what do I do?  
I listen.  
I listen and feel. 
I listen and feel and empathize. 

Empathy is one of our core values at First United. Practicing empathy seems like such a small thing to do. Every preschooler can learn empathy: imagine how you would feel if that happened to you. And yet, the work of empathy is as hard as it is healing. Empathy reaches through isolation to say, “You are not alone.” Listening and empathy together restore dignity.  

I invite you to add this to your everyday life: the loving practice of empathy. We all can do more to practice listening and empathy; join us.   

Whatever your spirituality or your view of humanity, I hope you’ll stand with us to show your love, and practice empathy for the Downtown Eastside community.  
Lenten blessings and thank you for being a part of the First United community, 
Lauren Sanders  
Prairie Band Potawatomi  
Kickapoo Nation of Kansas  
Indigenous Spiritual Care Chaplain

This Easter, we’re calling on our community to join us in helping the Downtown Eastside heal. We need to raise $30,000 by the end of Easter weekend, and we’re halfway there! Chip in what you can today and help keep our programs and services open to all who come seeing community, connection, and care.

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