Amazed

Pentecost
Acts 2: 1-21

I am a sucker for wonder. I love to see a waxing or waning moon at twilight, when you can just make out its three-dimensionality. I jump at the chance to look through a telescope at Saturn, and admit to the occasional, brief squint at the sun—that massive ball that is, for us, a constant, consistent, continuous explosion of the nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium. Recently, I experienced a glimpse of the sacred, for me a holy moment, while watching a CGI animation of the Earth’s magnetic field dispersing the lethal solar wind that would otherwise strip off our protective ozone layer. A giant shield surrounding the planet, our magnetic field means we can bike to the bakery for bread, through a gentle breeze, without fear of burning to a crisp; it means that you and I can exist. Read more

Worshiping the Ascended King

Note: This blog post concerns the lectionary passages for the Feast of the Ascension (May 30, 2019), which can be observed on the Sunday afterward (June 2, 2019).

The ascension is an oft-neglected feature of Jesus’ story. There are several possible reasons for this. First, conceptually the ascension seems to some to be an understood part of Christ’s resurrection. Along these lines, several Pauline texts are not always clear in distinguishing Christ’s resurrection from his ascension (see Ephesians 4:8-10). Second, not even all the gospels discuss the ascension. In fact, only one gospel explicitly mentions this occurrence. Finally, because the ascension occurs forty days after the resurrection, its commemoration always lands on a Thursday, leaving it prone to be forgotten between the sixth and seventh Sundays of Easter. For all of these reasons (and perhaps many more), it is good to examine the lectionary texts appointed for this occasion. Read more

Revolutionary Relationships

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 16:9-15
Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5
John 14:23-29

“Whoever loves me will keep my word. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23, CEB

“If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” Acts 16:15, NRSV

“And in the spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.” Revelation 21:10, NRSV

Now hear the good news of the Gospel: God has come to make God’s home among us. This is indeed Good News! Read more

Defiant Requiem

Fifth Sunday of Easter
Revelation 21:1-6

I have read Revelation 21:1-6 at numerous funerals, and have done so as tenderly as I could for the sake of those who were grieving. In that setting, I believe that was the right tone of comfort and hope. But this passage is far from a lullaby. Other tones ring out from these words, which is why it is important we read them on occasions other than funerals. Read more

Desperate and Joyful

Fourth Sunday of Easter
Psalm 23
Revelation 7:9-17

Reading the book of Revelation always takes me back to the years my family and I spent down south. In the mountains of east Tennessee, we were fed a steady apocalyptic diet just driving around town. Revelation showed up on homemade county highway signs warning, “Repent! Jesus is coming back! Get right…or get left!” complete with little hand-painted flames at the bottom. After nearly twenty years living up north, I miss those signs more than I ever knew I would. Maybe not the flames so much, but the announcement that there’s another reality out there—something beyond our culture, our country, something beyond ourselves. There’s something more to hope for, and God is responsible for it. And that something is so big, it belongs on a billboard in giant red letters. Read more