Along the way, along the journey from the Festival of the Resurrection to the Festival of the Pentecost, you and I are being invited to so much richness. This is truly what Isaiah the prophet calls “a feast of fat things.” Present company (perhaps) excepted.Continue Reading
In the 1970s, a popular feature in newspapers, usually on the comics pages, was a one-panel illustration. “Love is.” Each illustration showed a man and woman, as in the Garden of Eden. Each one had the words, “Love is . . .” at the top and a few words at the bottom. “Love is living in hope.” “Love is something you need on life’s journey.” “Love is not ordering the most expensive dish on the menu.”Continue Reading
Action to Get
Well, get up! There’s stuff to do. Action to get!
In his 1994 novel The Alienist, Caleb Carr shows us the New York City of 1896, when the brand-new Commissioner of Police is a wealthy, college-educated local named Theodore Roosevelt.
John 20:19-23 (24-29 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them. “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”Continue Reading
Nothing is the same forever, or so says modern science. That is, 98 percent of our bodies’ atoms get replaced every year. Resurrection is another word for change, particularly for a certain kind of change: positive change that we are able to observe, to know it for what it is, only in the long run. In the short run, change often looks like death.Continue Reading
So many times we preach Easter as the end of the journey, when here we are at the first steps of a journey that is just beginning.
When you and I walk with someone whose loved one has just died, we say, and they say, “He’s in a better place.” “He’s out of pain.” And it comforts us in our grief. But the death of a loved one, no matter how much you and I believe in what comes next, hurts like nothing else. It is brutally raw. It is white-hot fire and hypothermic ice all at once. For those who walked Jesus, knew Jesus, loved Jesus, the un-anesthetized pain of having watched him die did not go away. Jesus was resurrected, real, and not a ghost – but he was not the same Teacher they had walked with, broken bread with, and listened to.Continue Reading
“The pause that refreshes.” Does anyone remember that slogan for Coca-Cola? Anthropologists, who study people and culture, have a word for that pause that refreshes: Liminality. It’s the point at which the person on a journey, often through a rite of passage, is no longer who they were before, but not yet fully whom they will be. For your average Lutheran, this might be described as confirmation, only with most cultures it typically involves less pizza.Continue Reading
Come, everyone who thirsts! This is an extraordinary invitation from the Creator of the Universe, an invitation specifically given to the beloved children of God who are most desperately in need of having their thirst quenched. Centuries before Jesus would meet the woman at the well, this bold statement gives us a foretaste of what the Son of God will one day come to provide – and shows us that God has already been for centuries the life-giving Source of all our needs.Continue Reading
“And he believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness.” That’ll preach, as they say. But we get to that lovely reckoning only after what appears at first to be a low point in God and Abram’s turbulent history. This scene has an important, even vital, message for you and me.
The book of Deuteronomy was written many hundreds of years after the Israelites had reached the Promised Land, but it is structured as Moses’ deathbed address, his last words to the stubborn, chosen people of God. Remember, he says. Remember the last forty years. Remember who you are. Remember all that God has done for you. And respond in gratitude and thanksgiving – first before the altar and then by putting hands and feet to that gratitude.Continue Reading