If you were attending an event in a room full of people and tables and food, and the electricity suddenly went out, what would you do?

Would you ever think of pulling up the light app on your cell phone, placing your cell phone light underneath a water bottle and … voila! … basking by the unique glow of an “instant”, “hybrid” cell-phone-light-water-bottle-lantern?

Now imagine walking into a darkened sanctuary-turned-ballroom, filled with tables and people and food … and these 21st century lanterns glowing at each table …

That was exactly the scene yesterday at Mobtown Ballroom (https://mobtownballroom.com/) on Washington Boulevard in Pigtown, where Jayna Powell, Volunteer Coordinator at Paul’s Place (https://paulsplaceoutreach.org/ ), greeted and thanked a host of people who have volunteered and served at Paul’s Place this past year, making casseroles, serving hot lunches, working in the Market Place, helping someone find just the right outfit for a job interview, teaching another how to play chess, showing yet another how to create a resume using Word …. The opportunities to serve and be engaged at Paul’s Place are endless. The spirit is the same: to care for and treat one another with the same dignity and respect that you, yourself, would like to be treated.

As people feasted by lantern-light on lunch, which included fresh salads made by Paul’s Place “Kids in the Kitchen”, Jayna told the story of a woman, “Cheryl”, who someone from Paul’s Place had bumped into the other day. This person happened to notice the boots that Cheryl was wearing. As it turns out, Cheryl had actually been given these boots 3 years ago from someone at Paul’s Place, boots that in turn had been donated to Paul’s Place through Redeemer’s own Boots for Baltimore ministry. 3 years ago, Cheryl had just been released from jail and had no place to go. “Go to Paul’s Place”, she was told. She did, and there she received boots, clothes, warm meals, guidance, support, direction. There she was met with dignity and respect. There she felt hope. Today, Cheryl is employed with a steady job and still wearing her boots around Baltimore. As Jayna finished telling Cheryl’s story, the electricity and lights came back on.

There is power in light. There is power in caring. There is power in hope.

Believe it. Live it. And spread it around!


Dear Folks,

A day after the crucifixion, the disciples lock themselves inside a familiar meeting place, reeling from their leader’s death.  No wonder they are hiding: I imagine they are worried about what to do now and who could be next, where they might go and how they can make sense of it all.  And suddenly, Jesus is with them.  Their old friend joins them inside their makeshift prison, in the midst of their questions and grief, offering peace, but no explanation about how he got there.  Interestingly, the disciples don’t know who he is, so he identifies himself by showing them his wounded hands and side.  “Look at this,” he says.  Absent that day, Thomas will insist on touching Jesus, too, to believe that he is the one he says he is.

This lack of immediate recognition is a common thread throughout the resurrection stories. Mary Magdalene mistakes Jesus for the gardener until he calls her by name.  The two disciples on the way to Emmaus don’t recognize their companion until the end of their journey, when they share a meal.  And Peter and John don’t put two and two together about the stranger on the shore directing how they might improve their angling until they haul in an astonishing catch of fish.

In some sense, engaging is believing.

“I hear your words.  I see your face.  I smell the rain in your hair, the coffee on your breath.  I am inside me experiencing you as you are inside you experiencing me, but (we) don’t entirely meet until something else happens… Through simply touching, more directly than any other way, we can transmit to each other something of the power of the life we have inside us.  It is no wonder that the laying on of hands has always been a traditional part of healing, or that when Jesus was around ‘all the crowd sought to touch him.’  It is no wonder that just the touch of another human being at a dark time can be enough to save the day.” (Fredrick Buechner)  The kingdom of God is literally in our hands.

After Michelangelo died, someone found in his studio a piece of paper on which he had written a note to his apprentice: “Draw Antonio, draw Antonio, draw and do not waste time.”  Now your hands may not be made for drawing, but they are certainly fit for touching, created to heal and help and hold.  And your heart finds its purpose by envisioning sacred space: for loving the unlovely, for supplying encouragement, for offering forgiveness, for extending peace.

We can be like the disciples in the fearsome hours after Jesus’ death, locking ourselves away from our best selves and the people who so desperately need the touch of God’s love and care.  Or we can bust out of every prison that the world or we have made.  Courageous loving frees us, for giving and engaging and healing.  And when we go to the places in us and around us that are wounded and weary, instead of hiding from them, we will find resurrection precisely there.



The blue sky crowds
with angry pregnant snow clouds.
Like wintery ghosts
they soar and cast
long somber shadows
across the peaks of the mountain.

The row of grey green aspen trunks outside my window
like tall soldiers with long arms
creak and sway in the spring bluster.
They point bony-fingered warnings
toward the menacing storm.

aspen leaf hatchlings strain to unfurl
buds on branches.

black dirt entombs
seeds of vulnerable

And the wet heavy snow approaches like a thumping ogre.

An inevitable
cold moves to
steal the warm.
Gravestone white will cover the green.

Wars will rage
in the landscape between

Forces clash and battle
on the ground where new life might grow.

Even so,
deep in the buried sleep
and constant forgetting,

a heart knows.

At the end of a dark cold season,
the silent roar of resurrection
always overcomes.



Dear Folks,

For a stretch of time this winter, a pilot group of students from Govans Elementary School and volunteers from Redeemer have been teaching each other mindfulness. They have created time and space for quiet focus, strategies to diffuse anxiety or anger, habits that encourage positive self-awareness, the gift of embodiment, and growth. Experts call mindfulness a state of active, open attention to the present which balances engagement with healthy detachment. “When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad… it means living in the moment and awakening to experience.” (Psychology Today) The children and adults alike have discovered their capacity to bring good energy to tough situations: to dig down deep, to open up, to breathe. The days between now and Easter invite a similar awakening.

This Palm Sunday, immerse yourself in waving branches and shouting “Hosanna,” sing “Glory Laud and Honor” with all the gusto you can muster, and at the same time be conscious of what all those shouts of praise do to a room full of people, and to you. Are you swept along by the energy of the moment or does some part of you hold back? Both? Neither? What memories does this day conjure up for you? What dizzying combination of emotions were Jesus and the disciples feeling?

Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,
The seething holy city of my heart,
The saviour comes. But will I welcome him? (excerpt from a sonnet by Malcolm Guite)

On Thursday we commemorate the Last Supper, gathering around a large, single table in the parish hall. To keep it simple, we ask each person to bring a bag supper… maybe a little bit to share, and we’ll provide some bread and wine. Bring your stories of transformation from the last 40 days: insights gained from our speaker series, relationships strengthened through serving in the community, anecdotes from your own life or family, prayers… When the Spirit moves us, I will gather the bits and pieces of our lives in the story of Jesus’ Eucharist with his community. We will break bread together and then wash each other’s feet or hands, just like they did the last time Jesus gathered with his friends. We will end in a silent procession to the church and stripping of the altar.

On Good Friday we are confronted with the agony and grace of Love, in a service that provides plenty of quiet to consider both. Help us create this deep and nourishing silence. Within it, the Spirit of new life begins to stir: “let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made…” (BCP, p. 280) After the service, stations of the cross with images from our various ministries in Baltimore commemorates an ancient ritual.

Holy Saturday at 5:00 we kindle the new fire of life in a fire-pit beyond the church doors, and then gather at the outside font to welcome the newly baptized. Then we recount the history of salvation and celebrate the first Eucharist of Easter inside at the main altar.

Out of our image, Lord, keep rising,
and into our richness, our poverty,
keep on,
keep on being born. (“Incarnation: Holy Week,” Jennie Storey)

And on Easter morning…!

We’re on a sacred journey together, between now and April 16, and beyond. Dig down, open up, breathe deeply, and join us step by step along the Way.