On Recognizing Jesus

CrossOver reflection for Easter, Week 20 • Beginning April 21, 2019
We Make the Road by Walking, Chapter 33

Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky


The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23, NRSV

Toward the end of her life, as my mother was withdrawing into the twilight of forgetfulness, one of the delights we shared was walking through a public garden. On a sunny spring stroll, she exclaimed, “Oh, isn’t that beautiful!?” Her eye was captivated by electric blue blossoms crouched alongside the path. We paused and marveled at the delicate blossoms broadcasting such intense color.

As we resumed our walk, not ten feet further along, her eye fell upon another patch of these same flowers, and again she exclaimed, “Look at that! Aren’t they lovely!” And so, it continued along the way. Time and again she saw these graceful flowers as if for the first time and received them as the extraordinary gifts they were—the glory of the Lord!

Her memory loss gave her the gift of fresh awareness. She wasn’t laden with a tired seen-one-seen-‘em-all attitude. Rather she was delighted to discover them time and again anew.

The disciples who had watched as Jesus suffered and died on the cross, and was lowered into a grave, weren’t expecting to meet him on the road to Emmaus. Their hearts were so downcast that their eyes were blind to the miracle of Jesus’ presence. But, just like my Mom, when they realized it was Jesus, they exclaimed with wonder, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32).

Even in the community of Christians, it’s easy to overlook the miracles God works in our lives. To simply fail to notice the extraordinary blessings that God showers on us day by day.

To forget that God lifts people out of discouragement and self-hatred time and again. That on a Sunday morning, there are people in church, or at Starbucks, or waiting for a stranger who will share breakfast with them, who are led, despite all odds, out of darkness into a marvelous light.

Even people who are swept away into the darkness; death cannot separate them from the love of God in Jesus Christ. A pastor I once knew said that if we understood it fully, death would be a beautiful as birth. It was his affirmation of faith from the depths of despair.

Though she died nearly seven years ago, my heart burns within me every time I see bright blue flowers tucked into the rocks along a garden path. Mom is very near. Jesus lives. And loves never ends.

Death has no power. Alleluia!


Elaine JW Stanovsky serves as the resident bishop of the Greater Northwest Area including the Alaska, Oregon-Idaho and Pacific Northwest Conferences of The United Methodist Church.

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