2018 04 08: So I Send You

My guess is that the disciples were no dummies.  They could see where all this was going.  If they were sent out like the Father sent out Jesus, it was going to be to walk in his footsteps.  Jesus had given everything he had and everything he was away, not only for his friends and his family but for people who had no idea who he was, and even for his enemies.  If they left that room it might mean that they would have to do like Jesus did. 

2018 04 01: Only a Fool Would Believe a Woman's Testimony

“Do not cling to me,” Jesus tells Mary Magdalene; “things are not as they were. This wasn’t just a bad dream from which you’ve awoken and which you can just forget and move on. Things will never be the same again. A real change has taken place. God our Father has overcome sin, death, and the devil, and he’s done it through flesh and blood, he’s made the new kingdom to be here and now. The old world, where women are not believed, where the poor get short shrift, where there are slaves and masters, where there are abusers and the abused, where there are addictions and pride and cancer and fear -- this old world is dying. I AM alive. I AM the first sign and I AM the promise of this new way of life, this new reality that is taking over. I AM here and now. I AM the future. Mary -- go and tell our brothers and sisters this Good News.”

2018 03 25: We Didn't See it Coming

Somehow no matter how many times we’ve heard it, it is not what we were expecting... The cross comes out of nowhere, like a thunderbolt from a clear blue sky.  Of course, Jesus knew the cross was coming; he warned us a hundred different ways, but we didn’t see it.  We didn’t see it because we didn’t want to see it.  We didn’t see it coming, but the cross comes all the same.  ...The cross of Jesus Christ shows us something that we absolutely must understand about the human condition.  The passion of Christ shows us that the shadow of the cross will fall on every human life.  The cross shows us that suffering in this life is unavoidable.  In fact it shows us that the closer we’re following Christ, the more likely we are to share in his suffering. 

2018 03 11: A Lenten Murder Mystery

Have you ever wondered why the most cheerful, mindlessly enjoyable, curled-up-in-front-of-the-fireplace coziest TV shows are always about murder?  Strange as it may be, for some reason there are few things with more power to make us feel safe, reassured and content, like all’s well with the world, than a good murder mystery.  The more terrible the murder, the better... Why do we love these kinds of stories?  Why do stories that are—don’t forget—about murder make us feel safe and secure and happy?   

2018 03 04: Destroy This Temple...

I don’t want God to see them because I’m not sure that I want to give them up. Sin is so a part of us that we fear it might feel like losing an arm if we were freed of it.

I wonder if this is what Jesus is talking about elsewhere in the Gospels where he tells us to cut off an arm or gouge out an eye rather than letting the sin consume and kill us. This painful, messy analogy is revisited in our Gospel lesson this morning; when Jesus visits the temple, we learn two things about the way that God cleanses and the way that he brings dying things back to life.

First, when Jesus comes to clean, it hurts. When I was little, I remember this story making me uncomfortable, because it seemed like Jesus was yelling and losing his temper, flipping tables, throwing out animals. And in that flipping-over-of-tables, in that throwing-animals-out, Jesus makes quite a mess. In the Gospel passage, the animals stampede out of their stalls, coins are scattered all over the ground, tables lie in shards, bird cages are smashed. It’s a total ruin.

2018 02 25: Take Up Your Cross

Where is the cross in your life?

Mark Twain once remarked that his problem with the Bible wasn’t so much the parts he didn’t understand.  It was the parts he did understand that bothered him.  Today’s Gospel lesson is probably one of those parts for many of us, just as it seems to have been for Peter.  “Jesus began to teach his disciples,” we read, “that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”