Daffodils and Dead Jesus

Daffodils and Dead Jesus

I’m ready for spring. So ready that Denise and I took a few days off in the middle of a work trip and went to Florida. Mickey needed a visit. We needed some sunshine. I think I am solar powered.

Ice damming (a real thing, not a curse) did a number on our roof this winter. We lost a ceiling, three walls, and half of the wood floor in our master bedroom. Our home insurance company still hasn’t gotten here to survey the damage and write a check. Florida was good medicine.

When we got home, the daffodils were up, the ice was gone, and the grass was looking a little green. Spring always seems to arrive when we’ve had it with the cold stuff.

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Easter Sunday and Our Fear

Easter Sunday and Our Fear

“Do not be afraid.”

Why does the resurrected Jesus need to keep saying this to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary and all the disciples? Is fear the human response to resurrection?

Admittedly, to see a dead person walking and talking would give me the shivers for sure. Is this momentary fear that turns into courage? Or is it the human response to the reality that life as we once knew it has been turned on its head and something has happened that changes everything? Probably both.

This realization should help us understand why people resist Christianity. If they are seriously considering what we are saying, it is a leap of frightening proportions. They (and we) have no capacity for integrating this resurrection faith with everything else they believe.

It is like a crashed computer, a totaled automobile, a bankruptcy – the end of what we once had. Fear may be a good sign of serious discipleship. I suppose that is why the first words of Jesus to folk like us are, “Do not be afraid.”

What a life is to be had on the other side of fear.

Happy Easter!

Resurrection

Resurrection

They were dead-eyed. The married couple walking home following the weekend crucifixion of Jesus were trudging along the Road to Emmaus. They had been to Jerusalem with hopes that Jesus would fulfill their Messianic expectations. The exact opposite happened. Everything they hoped for was shattered at the end of Roman spikes and spears. And Jesus joined them on their journey.  In the Luke 24 story, pay attention to the eyes. Their eyes were “kept from” recognizing him. We are not told how nor why.

As they walk, Jesus interprets Messiah in a different way, which includes suffering and death. Their hearts burn within them, but their eyes are apparently still closed. Which seems to suggest that the best of preaching, interpreting the scriptures, apologetics, and witnessing can leave a person with heart flutters of possibility, but dead-eyed nonetheless.

It is only when Jesus sits at table with them, breaks the bread, and blesses it (and them), that their eyes are opened.

Resurrection is not as much about great explanation as it is about vibrant dinners around tables. And we who have had our eyes opened at such gatherings still dare to believe that Jesus will show up and open more eyes.

Branded for Death: Reflections on Ash Wednesday and Lent

Branded for Death: Reflections on Ash Wednesday and Lent

I did not observe Ash Wednesday and Lent until later in life. There was only one Catholic Church in my hometown, and I actually do not recall knowing a Roman Catholic my age. Giving up something for Lent was more like the run-up to a punch line, or a silly comment made regarding a new diet. I was in my 30s before I saw a human with ashes smudged on their forehead.

My introduction to Lent started with the task of preaching. I’ve always preached series of sermons, mostly through a book of the Bible. And leading up to Easter, I normally selected one of the gospels to take us toward the resurrection. It began to be a pattern. The more I came to grasp what Lent meant, the more I understood the rhythm of the Christian calendar and the need for us to live into the Christian story.

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