resurrection

To Sweet Impossible Blossom

Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

Luke 20:27-38

“Indeed they cannot die anymore… being children of the resurrection.”

It is these words of Jesus that cause my soul to catch; these my worn heart snags on.

In the gospel text this week, the Sadducees come with a theoretical question concerning a resurrection they don’t believe in. Jesus knows their unbelief. Perhaps he knows he also won’t convince them, even appealing to the Torah, as he does. But he still answers the question.

They’ve come up with the perfect quandary for Jesus. A woman marries seven brothers, gives not one of them a child to carry his name and tether her to him. In the resurrection, whose will she be?

It occurs to me that because of their denial of the resurrection they’re asking about, they mean their question to be purely a matter of theory. It does seem a little absurd, this poor woman meeting the same tragedy seven times.

But in reading their question, I feel like I know her. Read more

Declare How Much God has Done for You

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I Kings 19: 1-15a
Psalm 42 & 43
Galatians 3: 23-29
Luke 8: 26-39

It is, in the Northern Hemisphere, the season of summer – of fun on the water in many forms. We, ourselves, live by three lakes and spend much time in them, on them and by them at this time of year. Our impending visit to my sister’s on the Saskatchewan prairies holds the promise of a visit to their cabin with boating, tubing, skiing and skipping stones on the to do list – unlike our last visit when our son learned to sandbag for the first time as his uncle and cousins sought to keep the lake water from drowning the cabin.

This last image of flooding and water out of control, unfortunately a prominent one on the weather news of late from so many different places, is, as N.T. Wright points out in the first chapter of his Evil and the Justice of God, a biblical symbol of the chaos evil creates – so much so that in the new creation of Revelation there is no sea (Rev. 21:1). Just before our text from Luke for this Sunday, Jesus and his disciples find themselves caught up in the chaos of a storm on the lake of Galilee. Jesus, apparently a sound sleeper, is not aware of the storm until his disciples awaken him in their full-fledged panic. Easily rebuking the wind and waves, a calm ensues while Jesus rebukes the lack of faith in his disciples and they wonder just who this guy is. Read more

Home is Often a Troubled Place

Jeremiah 31:7-9

Jeremiah offers a compelling vision: the people together, a great company, coming home. But the picture is all wrong. They seem to be marching triumphantly like a military party coming back from war. They move along the banks of the water in plain sight. But this is no army. This is a bunch of worn down and broken nobodies. And they seem to know it.

They walk back home through a curtain of tears. Forget those translations that say they come home with “tears of joy” (Jeremiah 31:9, CEB, NLT). The text does not say that. It simply says that they were weeping. Read more

The Eucharist and the Hollow Place

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Joshua 24:1-2, 14-18
John 6:56-69

At the center of Christian worship is, and always has been, a meal – the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the times coalesce: at the moment of communion, salvation history and future hope meet in the holy now. Those who take this meal, who eat this flesh and drink this blood, take in a meal at once like and unlike the meals of their ancestors. It is bread, it is wine, yet it is somehow so much more, for as Christ himself says, it is also eternal life. At the center of Christian worship is this meal, and this meal is the future hope of eternal life.

Yet at the center of common human experience is not now, nor has it ever been, anything remotely like eternal life. For much of the world, human life is short and brutish, ugly and bleak. In a worldwide family fractured over religious, political, economic, and racial lines, humankind’s ecumenism is rooted in our shared experience of death, of suffering, of pain. These are our common heritage, our familiar burden.

And this presents a problem for any who would eat and drink – and truly believe in – this holy meal. Read more

A Token Performance

Palm Sunday
Passion Sunday

Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29
Mark 11:1-11

Hang on to the wheel
for the highway to hell
needs chauffeurs for the powers that be
– Mark Heard, “Rise from the Ruins”

Early in my years as a pastor, I was conscripted to be in a pageant as part of a gathering of area churches. Several of us chosen ones wore either a crown of rejoicing, a crown of righteousness, a crown of glory, or a crown of life. As the appropriate Scripture passage was read, each one of us, dressed as royalty, processed down a long auditorium aisle and placed our crowns on a stage altar. The producer/director/stage manager/costume designer (the sister had a lot invested) was as earnest as the day is long in wanting to portray visually a Revelation-like casting crowns before the throne. My wife hesitantly had to admit afterwards that the overall visual message was more like “Elvis impersonators are in the building.”

I think of that night as another processional draws near. Read more