Painting of the Stoning of Stephen

Preparing for Departure

This week’s lectionary reading leads us into the farewell discourse (John 13.31-17.26) as Jesus prepares the disciples for his departure.  It can seem a little disorienting to follow up a month’s worth of post-resurrection appearances with Jesus preparing his disciples for his looming death on the cross. After all, for the last several weeks we have celebrate that Jesus is alive and on the loose, appearing in locked rooms, in gardens and on the road to Emmaus.  However, the day of Ascension is fast approaching and the lectionary readings of the next two weeks use the farewell discourse to prepare us for the Ascension of the resurrected Christ. Read more

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Followers

Easter 4:  Acts 2:42-47, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2: 19-25, John 10: 1-10

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…All who believed were together and had all things in common;  they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.  Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people…

So – what the hell happened?  Luke’s description of the early church, after the disciples’ baptism in the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and Peter’s surprisingly fearless sermon, is certainly a rosy one.  Where is this church, because I want to go there?! Read more

The Emmaus Road

What’s goin’ on?

Luke 24:13-35

“Are you the only person who doesn’t know what’s been going on for the past few days?” Apparently Jesus had not been reading Facebook. Or listening to NPR. Or reading the newspaper.

Seriously—how could this guy not know what’s been happening? In the last few days the whole world has been in an uproar over the death of one man. Some people thought he should be killed. Others mourned his loss. Others didn’t know what to think.

Sound familiar? One man, killed at the hands of the government, whom many religious people were glad to see murdered. Read more

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Seeing the Lord

John 20:19-31

The Gospel Lesson the Second Sunday of Easter is always John 20:19-31 and the story of Thomas missing out on seeing the risen Christ that Easter evening.  When told, by the other disciples, that they had seen the Lord, Thomas says, “I won’t believe it until I can touch his scars.”  A week later he made sure he was present with the community of disciples, and sure enough he saw the Lord.

Thomas did not see the risen Lord the first time, because the resurrection of Christ makes no sense apart from the community of his disciples. Read more

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Why Do You Weep?

Jeremiah 31:1-6; Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-18

“Why do you weep?”  That seems to be the central question of the Gospel reading this Easter Sunday.   It is the question the angels ask of Mary when she looks into the tomb; it is the question the resurrected Christ asks when he finds Mary in the garden and she mistakes him for the gardener.

When the other disciples, Peter and John, came to see that the tomb was empty, they left—satisfied with the reality they thought they understood—Jesus was gone, his body taken, one more event in a series of tragedies that had seen their hopes for a new reality gone.   But Mary remained with the question—she stayed with the empty tomb, the trace of the Lord she still loved, the death she didn’t claim to understand.  It is by staying that she is present for the questioning of her perception—“Woman, why do you weep?” Read more