Category: Easter

When the Women Showed Up

There were two mistakes made at the jail this morning. The first was that the security guard called the wrong unit to the chapel. So, instead of the one or two men who usually show up Monday mornings it was nearly twenty women. In most places, the error would be corrected, the wrong group sent back, the right group recalled. But nothing happens easily or quickly in the jail and we were already running late. So, we decided to just play the hand we were dealt. The circle was widened, more bibles were procured, more photocopies of lessons were made. The women had shown up and we couldn’t very well turn them away.
The dynamic is different at the jail with women as opposed to men. There was more laughter, more tears, more stories, more sharing. The conversations were less guarded. There was less bravado and fewer awkward silences. It seems somehow more hopeful when the women show up. There is one thing that stays the same, though, no matter if it’s women or men doing the showing up. The majority of the inmates are indigenous. This one thing remains heartbreakingly consistent.
The second mistake was made when the woman beside me was assigned to read one of the bible passages. She was probably around my age although she looked older. She had missing teeth, scars, crude tattoos—the “uniform” is also heartbreakingly consistent. She was supposed to read John 8:12: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Which is of course a great verse to read in most any context.
But she made a mistake. She started two verses earlier, with John 8:10-11:

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

A few women started to interrupt her as she read. “Nah, that’s the wrong verse… “ But she kept reading. We looked around at each other after she was done. There were a few smiles exchanged before we moved on to read the “right” one. It felt like one of those accidents that wasn’t really an accident at all. I asked the women around the circle if they knew the story that preceded those verses. Nearly all of them did. “Yeah, it’s my favourite story in the whole bible… I love that one… Me too…”
And why wouldn’t it be? A woman condemned by righteous men for sins that at the very least she was only partially implicated in. A woman who may very well have been as much a victim as anything, so casual and oppressive have men historically been with women. A woman trained by life to expect the worst who gets a second chance. A woman whose dignity and worth is acknowledged both in the refusal to condemn and the injunction to go and sin no more. A woman who encounters Jesus and a different script. Could there be a better story for a circle of women in dreary prison garb who are well-acquainted with judgement?
There were a few sniffles. A few eyes searching out shoes. A roll of toilet paper was passed around for tear-stained faces.
At the end of our time, the chaplain asked if any of the women wanted to pray. The woman on the other side of me enthusiastically volunteered. She, too, was probably around my age, and had lived on the street since she was thirteen. She had purple hair and a booming voice. When she had read from the lesson earlier, I told her that she had a preacher’s voice—“You’ll have to come preach in my church some time.” She chuckled at that.
She proceeded to offer about the most beautiful and articulate prayer I had heard in some time. She prayed that God would descend into these women’s hearts and meet them in their pain. She thanked God for each person there and asked that none of the hard things each one had been through would be wasted. She claimed the truth that each person there was loved by God no matter what they had done. She prayed that they would emerge from this place with lessons learned, reborn into better lives. She said “amen” like she meant it. May it be so. Yes, God, may it be so.
I thought back to Easter Sunday. How it was the women who showed up there, too. How it was the women who first proclaimed the gospel to a collection of mostly thick and faithless men who thought they were telling idle tales. I thought about how it was the women who had a front row seat to resurrection on the day that the world was changed forever, about how it was a woman who first said, “I have seen the Lord.”
I thanked God for holy “mistakes.” And for the beautifully unlikely things that happen when the women show up.
The image above is taken from the 2018-19 Christian Seasons Calendar. It’s the image for the Easter season, created by Deborah L. Hoover, and called “He is Risen. 

Syndicated from Rumblings


Questions from the wrong side of Easter

Ted Grimsrud—April 24, 2019
Easter weekend was interesting for me this year. To be truthful, it left me feeling a bit uneasy. Usually I like Easter, at least if the weather is nice (as it was this year). But this time, the celebrative notes seemed consistently off key. I wonder if I have reached a tipping point where Easter imagery has the net effect of discouragement more than inspiration.
Easter “facts”?
My negative sensibility crystallized when, prompted by Facebook, I read John Updike’s “Seven Stanzas at Easter.” This is the first stanza:
Make no mistake: if he rose at all
It was as His body;
If the cell’s dissolution did not reverse, the molecule reknit,
The amino acids rekindle,
The Church will fall.
Maybe I’m misreading, but I understand Updike to be making two key assertions—(1) Jesus’s resurrection, as a certain fact, was physical. His real body, reanimated, returned from the dead. (2) Upon this fact, the life of the Church depends. No factual resurrection, no Church.
Later, Updike doubles down on the factuality of Jesus’s resurrection:
Let us not mock God with metaphor,
Analogy, sidestepping, transcendence,
Making of the event a parable, a sign painted in the faded
Credulity of earlier ages:
Let us walk through the door.
The stone is rolled back, not paper-maché,
Not a stone in a story,
But the vast rock of materiality that in the slow grinding of
Time will eclipse for each of us
The wide light of day.
For Updike, to think of Jesus’s resurrection as metaphorical is to “mock God.” The stone that was rolled away from the tomb when Jesus arose was “not a stone in a story.” So, it struck me that Updike denies that the story of Jesus’s resurrection is simply a story. It has a level of factuality that removes it from the metaphorical. What then is it? I don’t know.
Stories are powerful
I can’t see Jesus’s resurrection as something other than “simply” a story. To think it is more than a story is to have too weak a view of what stories are (an ironic attitude for a storyteller such as Updike to have, it seems to me). I think to see what the gospels (and Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians) tell us about Jesus’s resurrection as something other than simply a story seems to deny the actual reality of how we know about Easter Sunday.
The gospels are collections of stories that were passed down orally for maybe around 40 years after the events they recount (recognizing the likely existence of some kind of document, called “Q” by recent scholars, that provided the core narrative shared in common by Matthew, Mark, and Luke). These stories were gathered by the gospel writers and put together in the form of four more stories, the distinctive versions in each of the gospels. Paul’s version of the Easter story, as he tells us, was also the result of oral tradition (1 Cor 15:3).
So, the written versions we have (and it is important to note that they differ in important ways from one another) have been filtered through many retellings from the original accounts of eyewitnesses. Recognizing that ancient oral cultures passed down their stories with remarkable care, we still must acknowledge the distance between the events themselves and the records we have of them. In addition, we must (perhaps even more importantly) recognize that these stories were passed down, written, and thus shaped for a purpose. The purpose was not Updike’s kind of factuality but evangelistic, to persuade people to trust in and follow Jesus.
That what we know about Jesus’s resurrection came to be recorded for sermonic and not literalistic factual purposes does not mean that the information is false. But it does mean that making its meaning dependent upon factuality as Updike seem to do (echoing the mainstream Christian tradition, for sure—I don’t mean to single out Updike here, but on how he reflects the broader tradition and present-day piety) may end up distorting the core meaning of Jesus’s resurrection—with profoundly destructive effects for the practice of Jesus’s faith.
A weak kind of truth
The resurrection of Jesus, I would suggest, is best seen as a weak kind of truth. It is something we choose to believe, not something that hits us over the head, as it were, with its brute factuality. It is notable that the New Testament stories seem to make a point of reporting that only believers in Jesus saw him after he rose.
Typically, it appears, Christians such as Updike have and continue to want something more powerful and coercive than a “mere story.” In parallel fashion, they want a God who is in control, not a God who is “merely love.” They want certainty that things will end well, not merely a sense of hope that the universe bends toward justice.
They tend to want a story that they can control and that they can overpower others with, that they can turn into an enforceable boundary marker, that can serve as a line in the sand that divides true and false. That is, they want a story that isn’t just a story, a story that has more authority than a mere sermon, a story that provides certainty and security and not just tentative hopefulness.
I’m afraid that what this all comes down to is that Christians have a hard time trusting in the sufficiency of love—love that is not controlling or certain or absolutely secure; love that corresponds to the way life actually is and that empowers those who trust in it to be creative and compassionate in face of their fragility.
What if what matters most in the Easter story are not the details about Jesus’s body, not as Updike writes, that “the molecule reknit” and “the amino acids rekindle”? What if what matters most is simply the proclamation that God vindicates Jesus’s life? Our favorable response is not then due to irrefutable scientific facts (or to fearing that otherwise “the Church will fall”) but to our desire to be part of the same story as Jesus—where enemies are loved, when the rulers of the world are named as tyrants, where sinners are forgiven?

Syndicated from Thinking Pacifism

On Being Overwhelmed

  The women go to the tomb with spices, the stone is already rolled away, and suddenly two men in dazzling clothes show up, say “Jesus is not here, but has risen,” and the women blunder off to tell the apostles “all this.”   The men regard the women’s talk as—it’s usually translated “an idle…
Syndicated from Spacious Faith

Why the Cross Changes Everything

Every Good Friday I usually go outside to pray when the time is approaching 3 PM. That’s when he died. He who transformed my life.
There was a time when I didn’t care at all about Jesus. He was cool, sure, but he didn’t have as many superpowers as Superman and he was far less badass than Samus Aran. The church, in my opinion, was a boring museum. The Bible was hard to read and lacked pictures.
But when I was confronted with my own mortality and understood the message of Easter – that he died for us to live forever – then I could not get enough of him. I opened the gospels and read. I can honestly say that I have never encountered so much wisdom and love from any other person, before or after.
Some want to reduce Jesus to a non-divine moral teacher. As C. S. Lewis has pointed out, it is impossible. A reasonable moral teacher does not claim to be the Son of God, the light of the world, and the door to eternal life – unless it is true.
But I understand why people recognize Jesus as wise and moral. He is! That’s what makes the painful killing of him so incomprehensible and wrong.
God died on that cross. God himself died for our sake so that we would have the eternal life we ​​in no way deserve. This eternal life, in eternal happiness, is greater than anything we can imagine. No other gift is so great and as wonderful as the gift of living in paradise.
All the peace and justice we long for will be realized to its fullest in heaven. That’s no reason to stop promoting such Kingdom-values here. On the contrary, when we truly have the eternal perspective we will become even more zealous to bring God’s Kingdom to earth. As John says:
“Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as Christ is pure.” (1 Jn 3:1-2)
What I realized 13 years ago is that when we celebrate on Sunday that Jesus arose from death, it is not just that we are happy for His sake. His resurrection shows where we are going if we follow him. His path is the path of life. A life that never ends. It is because of his painful death on the cross that we can go that way.
Today at 3 PM, think of Jesus and pray to him. He loves you so much that he was subjected to one of the world’s most evil execution methods. He gave everything for you. You are too precious and loved to be lost in the bottomless darkness of death. God, your Creator and Friend, calls you to eternal happiness.

Syndicated from Charismactivism

Easter: Happy Skunk Cabbage Day

When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!)
–Mark 16:4

You didn’t think it was over at Day 40, did you? It was—technically, we’re all off the Lent hook now. But, whatever your discipline was, Lent isn’t intended to be a one-and-done. We return to old routines changed. We create new routines, maybe not with the strictness we adhered to during Lent (goodbye waking up at 6am to write the next day’s reflection!), but we carry who we’ve been these 40 days into who we become from here. The stone is rolled away. This morning, we put on our Easter dresses and sing and feast. As a teenager, I loved picking out my special Easter outfit, always anticipating warm weather and bare legs. April’s gonna be April, though, and more often than not I spent Easter morning digging through my closet for tights or sweaters. We didn’t think resilience would look like this. It seldom meets our beauty standards.
For some of these posts, I used a picture of an early spring bud: a skunk cabbage flower.
The flower bursts up early, even before the crocuses. It generates its own heat, even to the point of melting the snow, and it also smells terrible (which attracts the flies that pollinate it). It’s a fitting image of resilience: heat-generating, life-giving, and funky-smelling. The beautiful and the rotten, not glossed over, held in a balance that favors life and makes the unpleasant tolerable. The beauty of resilience might also be a little smelly. What Easter brings is rarely what we expected or anticipated. Prepare to be surprised by your own healing. Let your resilient self astound you.

 Takeaway: So we release the need for the future to look exactly how we planned. We release the stipulations we demanded before healing. We let resilience open us to what we’d never considered possible.
Take a listen to this song by Rising Appalachia, called “Resilient.” Carry it with you as you move from Lent into the season of Easter, as you sit with who you’ve become and who you still are to become: “I am resilient/I trust the movement/I’ll show up at the table/again and again and again.”

Syndicated from gathering the stones

Holy Week – Easter Sunday: Gospel and Psalm Passages – Now the story is ours to continue

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body.” (Luke 24:1 – 3)
Funeral practices vary from culture to culture, generation to generation, era to era – well, you get the picture. Ordinarily the body would have been prepared before burial, but time grew short before the Sabbath and expediency ruled. Now they had time, and wanted to prepare Jesus’ body properly. But as Jesus tried to tell them, he was bringing changes.
“While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again. Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.” (Verses 4 – 9)
Other than some brief appearances and final words, really, Jesus’ time on the earth was over. All that reminded was to prepare and commission the disciples and Jesus’ followers.
“Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.” (Verses 10 – 12)
Not that it was a simple task to prepare them and raise them up as apostles and missionaries for the Word of God. The work ahead was more of that of the Spirit than the flesh and blood man that Jesus had been.
“But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.” (John 20:11-18 )
The books of the bible that follow the gospels tell of what happened after Jesus returned to the Divine. The letters that the apostles wrote and the accounts of faith and works that they record have been a guide to believers for, well, countless generations. The lessons were learn from those letters we apply to our lives in the best way we can. Not necessarily the most effective and correct ways, but the best we can. I become more and more aware of that as the years go by.
Preacher: “O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever!”
Seeker: “Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalms 118:1 – 2)
From the first books of the bible where the story of creation is given, through the calling of the first people of the Divine and their “wandering” story, to the formation of the Hebrews/Israelites/Judahites/Jews, and then to the prophets of the Lord God – there are lessons to be learned from the accounts and chronicles there. We take from them what our own intellect tells us and what the Divine inspires us to.
Preacher: “The LORD is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
Seeker: “There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the LORD does valiantly; the right hand of the LORD is exalted; the right hand of the LORD does valiantly.”
Preacher: “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD.”
Seeker: “The LORD has punished me severely, but he did not give me over to death.” (Verses 14 – 18)
The New Testament turns a corner and what was guessed it is more clearly explained to the reader. But still it with the hands, pen, and understanding of humanity that it is told. The Spirit inspires, but we discern. Do we discern correctly? Oh beloved reader, I have asked that a thousand times. Have we and do we discern correctly?
Preacher: “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD.
Seeker: “This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it.”
Preacher: “I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”
Seeker & Preacher: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Verses 19 – 24)
When I was a youngster things were clear and absolute. As I grew to adulthood I became less sure, but more determined to discern and discover. I am still discerning and discovering. Easter Sunday, however, is one of the times when things are the most clear. Jesus has risen! And reigns for ever more! What we do with that news . . . . is up to us. Selah!

Syndicated from Pondering From the Pacific

Oh Boy, I Hope So!

I’ve mentioned (and quoted) Ben Myers’ fantastic little collection of line-by-line reflections on the Apostles’ Creed a few times over the last little while. I’ve been going through it again this morning as I reflect on the beginning of the season of Lent tomorrow and, ultimately, the staggering hope of Easter coming. There were a few passages I encountered today that I thought were too good and too profoundly hopeful not to share.
On “And he will come to judge the living and the dead”:

The judgment that Christ brings… is not just a division between two kinds of people. When Christ’s light shines into our lives, it creates a division within ourselves. None of us is entirely good or entirely bad. Each of us is a mixture. The bad grows up in our lives like weeds among wheat, and the two are so closely entwined that in this life we can’t easily tell the difference (Matthew 13:24-30). Sometimes our worst mistakes turn out to produce good fruit. And sometimes we discover that our virtues have produced unforeseen collateral damage. Our lives are not transparent to ourselves. We cannot easily tell where the bad ends and the good begins.
So it is a comfort to know that one day someone else will lovingly separate the good from the bad in our lives. The confession that Christ will come as judge is not an expression of terror and doom. It is part of the good news of the gospel. It is a joy to know that there is someone who understands all the complexities and ambiguities of our lives. It is a joy to know that this one—the only one who is truly competent to judge—is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He comes to save, not to destroy, and he saves by his judgment…
Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead. That will be the best thing that ever happens to us. On that day, the weeds in each of us will be separated from the wheat. It will hurt—no doubt it will hurt—when our self-deceptions are burned away. But the pain of the truth heals; it does not destroy. On our judgment day we will be able for the first time to see the truth of our lives., when we see ourselves as loved.

On “The forgiveness of sins”:

A church that takes its stand on the forgiveness of sins can never be a church of the pure. It will always be a community that is patient and understanding toward the timid and the imperfect. Whenever a judgmental, elitist spirit enters into the Christian community, we need to hear again the confession: “I believe in the forgiveness of sins.”
We believe that we stand not by our own achievements but by the achievement of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We believe that the spiritually strong and the spiritually weak are both sustained by the same forgiving grace. We believe that we rely solely on grace, not only in our worst failures but also in our best successes. We believe that if ever we should turn away from grace, if ever our hearts grow cold and we forget our Lord and become unfaithful to his way, he will not forget us. His faithfulness is deeper than our faithfulness. His yes is stronger than our no.

On “The communion of saints”:

Becoming a Christian is not really about institutional membership or about adopting a system of ideas. To become a Christian is to be included in the circle of Jesus’ followers. I am washed with the same bath that Jesus and his followers have had. I get to share the same meal that Jesus shared with his followers. Four of Jesus’ followers have left written records of what he said and what he was like, and I get to spend my life continually pondering these four accounts. I read them not because I am studying ideas about Jesus but because I am studying him. I want everything in my life, right down to the smallest and most disappointing details, to enter somehow into communion with the life of Jesus.
I share the holy bath and the holy meal, and I read the holy stories because I am seeking Jesus. But when I do these things I am also seeking myself. I want to find myself among the circle of Jesus’ followers. I want to be wherever Jesus is—and he is in the company of his friends. I want my whole life to be “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). I want my life’s small story to be tucked into the folds of Jesus’ story…
Perhaps at the end of the age, the Total Gospel will be read out and will be found to contain everything—every life, every story, every human grief and joy, all included as episodes in the one great, infinitely rich story of Jesus and his friends.  The world itself is too small for such a book. Life and death are too small for the communion of saints.

On “Amen”:

A friend told me once that he always crosses his fingers when he gets to the line about the virgin birth. I replied, “What? You mean the rest of the creed is so easy that you can say it with uncrossed fingers? Does the rest of it make perfect sense to you? Do you mean to say that you can verify the truth of everything else—creation, incarnation, resurrection, the last judgment—all except the virgin birth?”
Is there anyone who never feels a flicker of doubt when they contemplate the mysteries of faith? Can anyone really say the amen with all their heart? Isn’t it really here, at the last word of the creed, that we ought to cross our fingers? Shouldn’t we end the creed by saying: “Oh boy, I hope so!”

Amen. Oh boy, I hope so!

Syndicated from Rumblings

A Perfect Cocktail of Disgusting Lies!: Matthew Distefano’s “Heretic!”

Attending a Conservative Christian university while visiting about hundred urban churches and growing up in the conservative Midwest, I have been well acquainted with the dominant manifestations of North American Evangelical Christianity. I have found it wanting.
My relationship with it still exists, largely due to my introvert personality and general lack of verbally sharing what I truly believe with my conservative peers which make up a significant portion of my circle. One must pick their battles.
That said, Matthew Distefano’s newest book, Heretic! An LGBTQ-Affirming, Diving-Violence Denying, Christian Universalist’s Response to Some of Evangelical Christianity’s Most Pressing Concerns, resonates with me, as I believe it does an ever-increasing number of, for lack of better term, Post-Evangelicals. As the mouthful-of-a-title makes clear, it tackles some of the most heated topics among Evangelical Christians in the North American context with some tongue-in-cheek humor and signature Distefano wit to boot. Also, take the Parental Advisory warning seriously – Distefano uses some, ahem, colorful language.
Now, if you’re an Evangelical Christian, you may be thinking, “Universalism?? LGBTQ?? God as totally and wholistically nonviolent? Are you on pot? (A topic which Distefano has covered elsewhere) Of course he’s a heretic!” Except you’d be wrong, at least according to Christian tradition. Distefano still adheres to the Apostolic and Nicene Creeds (which were largely influenced by theologians who believe a variety of things that Distefano proposes in his book). The term heretic, historically, is less referring to what someone believes within the Christian tradition, and more about being divisive – someone who tears a community apart, often intentionally so.
For example, when an Evangelical church shuns a practicing homosexual – that congregation is being heretical, according to historical definition. When churches separate over minute doctrinal differences such as full or partial immersive baptism. Protestantism is about the most heretical manifestation of Christianity in the 2,000 year history of the religion – it just can’t agree on anything.
What Distefano shares with us in his new book, out April 1, is not heretical – it is, on the contrary, welcoming. Welcoming to those Evangelical Christianity has often shunned: those who refuse to believe that God as revealed in the person of Jesus Christ is an abusive father who wants to torment 99% of the human population forever, to those who don’t maintain heterosexual relations or feelings, to those who believe violence is a never-ending self-perpetuating cycle. It seeks to cultivate community, not divide it. As far as I can tell, Distefano is even inviting those whom disagree with him to participate – if they can do so without themselves being divisive.
If you’re interested, Distefano’s book officially releases April 1, 2018. For the entire month of April, the Kindle edition will be 99 cents and all proceeds will go to the Preemptive Love Coalition. Check it out!
Distefano was kind enough to send a signed copy of Heretic! to me himself. Of course, I gave a donation to him in return. Being a shunned theologian certainly does not pay the bills very well!
Visit Matthew Distefano’s website!


Syndicated from Interdependently Independent

Resurrection People

Another Way for week of March 30, 2018 Resurrection People It seems like my husband and I have been going to a lot of funerals or memorial services lately, for people we have known and loved. I’m thinking about all these friends as we come to this beautiful and life-affirming Easter season. We are Easter […]
Syndicated from findingharmonyblog

Easter Power

Although I listed many of the events in the Christian calendar in the Psalms reading schedule, I did not make any attempt to coordinate them with particular psalms. During this past week I had the thought that I should have tried harder to do this. What does Easter, the height of the Christian calendar, have to do with a wisdom psalm which we focused on during the latter part of Lent and the first weeks of the Easter season?
Today, a phrase from our reading in Psalm 37 struck me as appropriate for a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus: “The power of wickedness shall be broken” [v.17a]. Indeed, Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection three days later has broken the power of wickedness. The principalities and powers that nailed Jesus to the cross were defeated by the sacrifice of love and the power of the resurrection. The myth of redemptive violence that has ruled much of human history was proven to be a foolish fraud by the cross and the resurrection. The resurrection—indeed, the entirety of the Gospel story of Jesus—teaches us that the greatest power in the universe is not death and destruction or the fear of it; it is the power of love and life.
Yes, when I hear the rhetoric from leaders of the world these days I am often overwhelmed and depressed by the power of wickedness in our world. But today the line in this psalm and the events of Easter remind me that this power has been broken. “Walking in the resurrection” is sometimes still a struggle and a long and winding road. But today I have hope that God’s steadfast love will uphold us.

Syndicated from gareth brandt

A Poem for Holy Week

“Good Friday” by Christina Rossetti speaks to me this Holy Week. Written in 1862 and now in the public domain, this poem is a devotional, self-reflective piece. “Am I a stone?” she asks–and I think of the heart of stone turned hard by compassion fatigue and so unmoved by suffering. “Am I a sheep,” I … Continue reading A Poem for Holy Week
Syndicated from April Yamasaki

Podcast: Should We Expose Santa and the Easter Bunny as Frauds to Our Kids?

Greg pulls back the curtain on holiday fraud in this disenchanting roller coaster of an episode.
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Syndicated from Greg Boyd – ReKnew

Historical Reasons for the Resurrection?

This past Sunday I did something that I had never done before as a Pastor. I preached on the historical reasons for the resurrection. It was not an easy sermon to prepare. There is a lot of material to cover in such a short time. I found myself a bit apprehensive to give a list of reasons why one might believe in the resurrection. (You can listen to that sermon above in the video player) 

You may ask, "Why the apprehension?"

Certainly, that is a valid question. 

Why should any minister of the Gospel be apprehensive on sharing the historical case for the resurrection? I guess my apprehension could be narrowed to the fact that I did not want to build an entire case on reason alone. I think it's dangerous to base our faith on a post-enlightenment rationalism that declares, "I have empirically proven the answer, thus removing the need for faith."

 Jason Micheli captures my apprehension perfectly when he writes,
 "The Barthian in me bristles at the unexamined assumption that that which is ‘objective’ and true must be empirically verifiable, it’s nonetheless true that the same Barthian in me is allergic to rational apologetics."- 
And so all of this left me with an uneasy feeling about putting together a sermon that compiled a list of reasons for believing the resurrection. I was apprehensive about a "wooden rationalism" that called for undeniable verification. Thankfully, both Jason & N.T. Wright helped me provide a proper framing of where to put these arguments for the resurrection. 

Jason Micheili cleverly asserts this dialectical statement:
To say the resurrection of Christ is beyond historical verification is true, for we believe God intervenes from beyond history to raise Jesus from beyond the grave. But to say the resurrection of Christ is beyond historical verification is not also to suggest that the resurrection of Christ is beyond historical plausibility, for we believe God intervenes to raise Jesus from the grave within history. In fact... I do think the resurrection is the best- or at least a compelling- historical explanation for the resurrection of Jesus.
N.T. Wright, in his popular book Surprised By Hope, (and elsewhere) spends endless chapters laying out the historical case for the plausibility of the resurrection. Yet, after tirelessly laying out his through argument, Wright explains to his readers exactly where these rationalistic based arguments belong for followers of Jesus. He writes, 
"[T]hough the historical arguments for Jesus’s bodily resurrection are truly strong, we must never suppose that they will do more than bring people to the questions faced by Thomas, Paul, and Peter, the questions of faith, hope, and love. We cannot use a supposedly objective historical epistemology as the ultimate ground for the truth of Easter. To do so would be like lighting a candle to see whether the sun had risen. What the candles of historical scholarship will do is to show that the room has been disturbed, that it doesn’t look like it did last night, and that would-be normal explanations for this won’t do. Maybe, we think after the historical arguments have done their work, maybe morning has come and the world has woken up. But to investigate whether this is so, we must take the risk and open the curtains to the rising sun. When we do so, we won’t rely on the candles anymore, not because we don’t believe in evidence and argument but because they will have been overtaken by the larger reality from which they borrow, to which they point, and in which they will find a new and larger home. All knowing is a gift from God, historical and scientific knowing no less than that of faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love."- N.T. Wright, Surprised By Hope, pg. 74
So this is all to say, that while I find the various reasons for the resurrection compelling, I must always recognize that these reasons alone cannot form the basis of faith and trust in the resurrection. I must go deeper from reason to hope, faith, and love. 
Syndicated from As above, so below


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