2019 04 28: The Breath of God

In this morning’s Gospel passage, Jesus breathes on his disciples. It’s the way that the writer John expresses Jesus gifting the Holy Spirit to his followers. While we’ll celebrate Pentecost in June as the feast of the Holy Spirit with tongues of fire and all… I want to sit this morning with the analogy of the Holy Spirit as breath. The words that Jesus uses around this strange action he takes give us clues to what’s happening here, and how we might understand Scripture and its underlying truth to continue to shape and determine our lives.

When Jesus appears to his disciples in the passage this morning, he says first, “Peace be with you.” When we take deep breaths, we slow our heart rates, we force our bodies to calm down, to enter a state of deeper peace, just like Jesus tells us.


2019 04 19: Good Friday

What you and I celebrate here today certainly isn’t that we who walk the way of the cross are better than anyone else.  We looked down and saw that the hammer and nails were in our hands, and the jeers of scorn and violence were on our lips.  We have no righteousness of our own to commend.  What we celebrate today is the final acceptance of defeat—the defeat of man, the defeat of God—and the final victory that was won in defeat and death’s darkest hour. 

2019 04 21: Easter Sunday

Have you ever wondered that his post-resurrection body still had nail marks in his hands and feet? That there was still a spear wound in his side? Why didn’t God, when he was drawing the breath of life back into Jesus human flesh, just wave his fingers and erase those scars, “good as new”? Wouldn’t it be better, less upsetting, more hopeful, to just ignore the recent unpleasantness and move on to the Easter brunches and egg hunts and chocolate overdoses without the bloody scabs of torture staring us in the face?


2019 04 14: Palm Sunday

Throughout Lent we are called to examine, to look honestly at our lives and habits, to offer to God’s judgement our ways of relationship and our rhythms of life. This week it all comes to a head, and rather than sit at home in our little prayer closets, we’re called this week to join as a community in our examination, in our looking honestly together at ourselves and our lives.


The parade of Holy Week, beginning out in the courtyard as we did this morning, continues on Thursday as we imagine that we are invited into the upper room where Jesus feasts with his disciples and then to the garden where he brings his closest companions to pray. On Friday we journey with Jesus to the cross and to the site of his death, to face what our sins do to those whom we love, to those who are innocent of evil, to those who do not deserve suffering and death at our hands. On Saturday night, we join Jesus’s path out of death, we gather again in the courtyard, in a garden, to sing and pray around the new fire that God gives in the resurrection of his Son. We will read of God’s path, walking with His people, throughout the Old Testament, we will baptize a child into the new life of Jesus Christ, and we will celebrate the first feast, the first Eucharist of Easter and of the resurrection.


2019 04 07: Lent 5

Whatever has brought you to this wilderness, whatever brokenness and anger and guilt and shame and messiness have traced your steps here, “do not” “consider the things of old.” God is not about rubbing our noses in our mistakes or berating us over our foolishness. Whenever you realize and recognize that you are in the wilderness, surely that is enough suffering -- to know that you are parched, to feel, finally, that you are clumsy and tired, without strength and without a way out for yourself. And into that realization, into that opening of the eyes of your heart, God comes.


2019 03 31: Paul's New Perspective

The apostle Paul is trying to tell us something, show us something, that by definition is impossible for us to see with our own eyes.  He’s not just telling us to see something in a different light; from a different point of view; to put yourself in someone else’s shoes.  That’s hard enough but with effort it can be done.  No: Paul is telling us that we are to regard “no one from a human point of view.”  Let alone trying to see things from the perspective of another person—he’s saying, the problem is the human point of view!  The perspective of human beings living in the world—that’s what’s all wrong, he says.  You see, there is now a new creation—everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 

2019 03 24: Unless You Repent...

What would happen if there was someone who knew and understood me so well that nothing he said about me was unfair or untrue?  What if there was someone who understood me better than I understand myself?

 

What if there was someone who confronted me in my sin not to tear me down, but to show me that what I’m doing will wind up destroying everything that really matters in my life? 

2019 03 17: Lent 2

Jesus’ message is for everyone -- not just the prostitutes or the notorious sinners, but also, as Scripture describes Joseph of Arimathea, those who are “seeking the kingdom of God.” Jesus doesn’t only spend his time in drug dens or brothels, but also with the lady in the nursing home whose Bible’s pages are wearing away at the corners from use. Jesus doesn’t only spend his time on street corners or with the lepers, but also around family dinner tables and snuggling with kids on his lap.