Outrageous Hope

Happy Easter from Mexico!

Just wanted to give a quick update…I’m back in the country, well, on the continent. I got back late Thursday night, spent Friday unpacking, doing laundry and re-packing in order to drive down to Mexico on Saturday.

You may remember (though I don’t blame you if you don’t—I can barely keep track of my life, and it’s mine!) that last Easter I told a story of meeting Gary Wilburn, a retired Presbyterian minister, who is living here in La Mision where my family has had a house since my grandparents built it some 50 years ago.  Gary and I have both mutual friends, we came to find out, but have also quite mutual paths—Princeton Seminary, St. Andrews Scotland, Bel Air Presbyterian Church and Immanuel Presbyterian Church in LA, to name a few. Gary and his wife Bev moved down here to Mexico full time after finding out that he had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Gary and I met last year on Palm Sunday, and a week later, on Easter, hosted a La Mision Easter celebration service and pot luck.  In December we hosted a Christmas celebration as well, for a mixed group of Spanish and English speakers, Mexicans and Americans, all part of the community here.

At one point not long after we met last year—I think we were at Tuesday Taco Night at La Fonda Restaurant, Gary looked at me and said, “You could have been Lutheran!” to which I replied, “You could have been Pentecostal!” Meaning…of all the situations, how crazy is it that he, a retired Presbyterian minister and me, a…hmm, not sure what to call myself!, would both end up being here in a fairly small community.

That’s all the back story.

Gary preaches to the La Mision Easter service

Gary preaches to the La Mision Easter service

The update is, I had the great privilege to again, this morning, help put together and host an Easter service for the community here. Gary, with the help of a small microphone which helps him speak (his breathing has become very difficult and he spends much time on oxygen and is pretty much always in a wheel chair now) was able to preach.  Other members of the community helped with readings, prayers, reflections and a benediction. We sang to Cat Stevens’ “Morning Has Broken” and Judy Collins’ “Amazing Grace” and even had an impromptu round of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.” I’ve heard plenty of sermons in my day, and now even preached quite a few, and I’ll tell you, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such attentiveness to a sermon as I did this morning.

Here’s just one excerpt from the sermon, entitled ‘Outrageous Hope’ : “I’ve got to tell you—time is not on my side, but hope is…Having hope doesn’t change anything—it makes us want to change it.”

I recently had the opportunity to write an article about Gary for the Presbyterian News Service.  It’s entitled Lots of Hope, which is the title to Gary’s newly released book.  You can also see pictures from the service as well. 

Peace to you this Easter.

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