There were so many times in Jesus’ ministry that he told his disciples that on the third day he would be raised from death. Today is the third day. The day when the world changed forever. When His best overcame our worst. When He broke the chains of death and now we are free.
Today is that third day when our hearts are healed, our lives rescued, and we can rejoice with Alleluias. Rejoice, I say again, rejoice! It is the third day! Can I get an “Amen?” Continue reading →
“He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples” such is one of the verses before our gospel reading of this Easter Monday morning. This gives context and meaning to the following verse, the first one in our gospel reading: “Then they went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples.” Continue reading →
This coming Sunday is the 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday. The gospel is taken from John 20:19-31, the scene in the Upper Room on the evening of the Resurrection. Our gospel contains the second and third appearances of the risen Jesus in John’s gospel. These three appearances take place in Jerusalem. There is a fourth and final appearance of Jesus later in a section referred to as the “Epilogue” of John. This appearance is at the “Sea of Tiberias” in Galilee (John 21). Continue reading →
“…early in the morning, while it was still dark…” and so Easter begins. Begins in the place and time when it is hard to see, difficult to be sure what we are seeing, making it harder to be sure what we will later remember. We all have our own experiences of joyous Easter celebrations. My own memories are of churches blooming into color after the somber decor of Lent, easter egg hunts with the cousins, the quest for the golden egg, and many other happy memories. Perhaps your memories are similar. Maybe so much so that we pass over the beginning: disciples stumbling around in the half-light when the memories of Good Friday loom large. Jesus was captured, tortured, and crucified. He was buried in a tomb hewed out of the side of a hill – a stone covered the entrance. Hope died with him. It is now the third day and these disciples move about in the not-yet-light. Continue reading →
In the Book of Job, chapter 14, Job is pondering the deeper things of life. He is asking the age old question in the face of pending or possible death? Will a person, once dead, live again? (יִ֫חְיֶ֥ה cf. Job 14:14). The question has now been answered. The tomb is empty. The defining conviction of Christian hope is that because Jesus was raised from the dead, the grave is not the final reality of human experience. “Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is risen. Continue reading →
There are lots of ways to tell a story. The one that comes most naturally is to start at the beginning and move ahead to the end. A to B, pillar to post, a straight a line as possible. There are other methods such as using flashbacks, telling the story in a non-linear fashion moving the reader/listener back and forth across the timeline, letting the story stitch itself together in the imagination of the audience. There are lots of ways to tell a story.
There are lots of places we tell the stories: around a campfire on the savanna of the Serengeti, around the family dinner table, leaning against a car in the school parking lot, the coffee machine at work, family reunions, as many places as there are people and memories.
Continue reading →
“Gathered around the water cooler” was (maybe still is?) an expression to describe the gathering in the office of people to give greetings, exchange news, and tell stories. In Kenya it was the well, a river, or the public water tap. Every place and time has had a place where we gather to tell the stories that animate our lives. I suspect this morning, the conversation is the buzzer-beating ending of the NCAA semi-final game between UCLA and Gonzaga: overtime, 3 seconds left, Jalen Suggs goes the length of the court and drops a 40-footer to end the game. The twitter sphere exploded. Possibly one of the greatest college games ever as the two teams went back-and-forth. And now the water-cooler experts can debate if Suggs’ shot was the best ever or does Duke’s Christian Lattener 1992 bucket (with amazing inbound pass from Grant Hill) to defeat Kentucky in the “Elite Eight” contest. remain “best ever.”
I wonder what amazing shot was replaced by the Hill-Lattener game winner? I wonder if I will be around when that shot is forgotten and the next entry is compared to Gonzaga/Jalen Suggs thriller? Such are the stories we tell.
But in a few minutes I will be celebrating Easter Sunday 2021 and the greatest story ever told. Best ever. Now there’s a story to share when gathered at the water cooler.
The weekly bulletin and this column are a good thing. I enjoy writing; I enjoy the process of thinking about what I want to write, starting to write, and then sometimes watching the column take on a new direction of thought. Now and again by inspiration or necessity, I might write a whole month of columns or more at a go. Late in the month of February, I had produced pastor columns for the first weekend in March (First Sunday in Lent) all the way through and including Easter Sunday. Check that off the “to-do list.” Then life changed as the world declared a pandemic, the churches closed, and the world found out it was a lot safer to be at home. Some columns did not need to be redone: Unmasking (March 15) and the two columns on “Habits of the Heart” (March 22 and 29). When I made the decision to stay with them and not rewrite them in the light of these pandemic days, I thought that they were still appropriate to the moment at hand. In looking at the columns again this morning, it was a good decision. Continue reading →
In Luke’ narrative there is no account of the Resurrection; there in only the empty tomb – which is not the source of faith for people in Luke’s rendering of the gospel. Rather, in Luke’s gospel it is the empty tomb and the encounter with the person of the Risen Jesus. The empty tomb is what Jesus had said would happen “on the third day.” The event of its discovery points back to Jesus’ word. A word mostly fully realized later in the ‘breaking of the bread.”
Luke 24:13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,16 but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.17 He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast.18 One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?”19 And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,20 how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him.21 But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Continue reading →
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. (John 20:1-9) Continue reading →