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Showing posts from April, 2017

Resurrection changes everything

Reading: Acts 6-7 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Sunday, April 30, 2017
Clarence Jordan once wrote “the crowning evidence that Jesus was alive was not a vacant grave, but a spirit-filled fellowship.  Not a rolled-away stone, but a carried-away church.” On Easter Sunday we triumphantly proclaim “Christ is risen!”  The truth is that we remain in the Easter season for some time, for a total of 8 weeks. The church gives us time to live into this claim so that we do not just say the words “Christ is risen” with our lips but also believe the words in our souls. Resurrection changes everything, but the world will not know that unless we have the courage to live as if we believe it is so with ever fiber of our being. It takes faith to really allow ourselves to let go of the things that no longer bring about life.  Resurrection is more than something we celebrate it is the raw power that comes when we are able to love our enemies and bless those who persecute us.

Prayer: Holy…

Breaking Bread

Daily reading: Luke 24: 13-35 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Thursday, April 27, 2017
As the sun sinks below the horizon and night begins to descend upon them, the two faithfully offer the stranger hospitality.  They invite him into presumably one of their homes and offer him dinner.  There the stranger takes the bread, breaks it and blesses it.    Something he had done just four nights earlier with his disciples.  In this moment when the bread is broken, they unclenched their fists into open hands to receive the bread and the presence of Christ is revealed.  At the end of a familiar road, with broken hearts, going in the wrong direction, desiring to return to the way things used to be because they are unable to envision a new tomorrow, Jesus breaks through all of that.  Providing for them comfort, knowledge and hospitality.  While they open the door to their home, he gives them so much more, he gives them the assurance that the cross did not have the final word…

Hospitality

Daily reading: Luke 24: 13-35 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Wednesday, April 26, 2017
In biblical tradition there is strong support and advocacy for the practice of hospitality.  The root of this concept of hospitality is for the stranger and not for people we already know.  We are called to love the stranger.  Strangers throughout the Old Testament show God’s people God.  Abraham and Sarah encounter God through the three strangers they welcome into their tent.  Jacob encounters God through a stranger that he wrestles with all night long by the Jabbok River.  The exiled Israelites encounter God through the stranger Cyrus King of Persia who allows them to go home.  Then in the New Testament, when Jesus answers the question “who is my neighbor,” he tells the story of a stranger helping a Jewish man out of a ditch on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.  His neighbors, the priest and the Levite had walked by him leaving him for dead, but the Samaritan, the stranger…

Direction

Daily reading: Luke 24: 13-35 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Most likely Cleopas and the unnamed disciple had been anticipating change, change that would take place because the Messiah had entered Jerusalem, but that all went horribly downhill quickly and ended on a cross.  Blindsided by what has happened to their Lord they take the road home with heavy hearts.  They are returning to their old routine of getting up and going to work, of coming home, to sit in their favorite chair and to continue with life as they had before Jesus had come.  They do not make it very far down the road before they encounter a stranger who strikes up a conversation with them and begins to talk with them about the past week.  Practice being mindful today.  Seek for the presence of God in the ordinary and extraordinary moments of your day. Take time to consider if you are backtracking or moving forward.

Prayer: God, help me to seek you out today.  Nudge me to off…

The Road

Daily reading: Luke 24: 13-35 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Monday, April 24, 2017
Our passage for today happens on the same day that the women visit the empty tomb and on the same day that 10 of the disciples find their story to be nonsense and on the same day that Peter goes and sees and returns in wonder.  It is on that same day that two disciples were traveling to a village called Emmaus.
These two disciples decided to leave Jerusalem not sure what to make of women’s tale of the empty tomb and the presence of angels announcing that Jesus was alive. So they head, presumably home, away from Jerusalem. This road they are on is a well traveled road.  We have been on it before, it is the road we take when we close ourselves off to the presence of God, when we downplay holy moments or outright refuse to see the holiness in friend and stranger. It is the road of wanting to get back to the place that no longer exists:  The place where we felt that we had some control …

Letting Go

Daily reading: Luke 24: 13-35 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Sunday, April, 23, 2017
One of the hardest days in a young parent’s life is drop off on the first day of kindergarten.  The kids may be o.k. on that day but if you go out to the parking lot you will see a lot of teary eyed parents.  Those of us who have experienced this phenomenon know it is not because we are worried about leaving our children at the school, but it is because kindergarten marks the end of the preschool years. As a parent, we go through many of these sorts of days.  I find that I do every year around my children’s birthdays.  I mourn what had been and begin the process of celebrating what will be and what is right now.  We all learn to embrace who our children are in the moment, their new achievements, their new experiences and new growth. And I have to believe that is what the teachers see on the first day of school … students with all of their potential … they see what they will learn …

Peering into the empty tomb

Read Luke 24:1-12 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Saturday April 22, 2017
When we are faced with an empty tomb, the question is whether or not we are able to be filled with wonder and experience resurrection, or if we are dismayed by the ending of something significant. Resurrection begs us to ask what places in our lives are we trying to resuscitate when we really need to be experiencing resurrection?  Why are you seeking for the living among the dead? As we live into this Easter season, I encourage you to be open to God raising you to new life; to drawing you forward into a resurrection life.  Believe the Good News, Christ is risen from the grave! Prayer:  God, breathe resurrection in all of the dead spaces in my life.  In my refusal to let go and move forward, in my moments of holding tightly onto grudges rather than grace, in my moments where I find more comfort in staying put rather than allowing you to guide me to joy and growth.  Amen.

Living resurrection

Read Luke 24:1-12 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Friday April 21, 2017
One of the most striking parts of the passage is the question the men in dazzling bright clothes ask “why do you seek for the living among the dead?”  If we truly believe resurrection, do we live as if it is so? If we believe that not even the most powerful empire of Jesus’ time could stop his kingdom from subverting God’s power, do we live as if it is so? If we believe that not even death or our own sins could stop his kingdom, do we live as if it is so?  Or do we allow despair, grudges, insistence on being right and division guide our actions and our words?  Do we believe that God can resurrect the dead places in our lives, in our communities, in our cities and our nation and world?  Or do we feel helpless and full of despair? Do we believe that love wins and not hate? Do we live as if it is so? What difference does resurrection make in your life?  How does resurrection change everything?
Prayer:…

Resurrection

Daily reading: Luke 24: 13-35 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Friday, April 28, 2017
Recharged and overjoyed the two disciples get up and run back to Jerusalem to share with good news with the other believers. Resurrection calls for a change in perspective.  It calls for the first disciples and followers to let go of the way life was when Jesus was in the flesh and to embrace a new life.  The good news today is that God does meet us where we are and calls us into a new day, showing us life where there once was death, showing us a new path to take when we thought the road had been blocked, showing us transformation when we had thought change was no longer possible.

Prayer: God, help me to seek you out today.  Nudge me to offer hospitality and may I be ever aware of your presence in stranger and in friend.  Amen.

Is resurrection real?

Read Luke 24:1-12 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Thursday April 20, 2017
We revisit the story of resurrection in those moments when we experience tragedy and face unimaginable loss.  We revisit it when we are alone in the dark wondering if it really is all true and our mind is in a state of wrestling. Did God really raise Jesus from the dead?  Has death really been overthrown?  Is there really nothing that can oppress us or separate us from the love of God? We revisit the story because we return to these questions and wait for God to open us up and change us from the inside out as they become statements of faith.  Jesus did really rise from the dead, the tomb really was empty, death has been overthrown, there is really nothing that can oppress us or separate us from the love of God!
Prayer:  God, breathe resurrection in all of the dead spaces in my life.  In my refusal to let go and move forward, in my moments of holding tightly onto grudges rather than grace, in m…

Facing our fear

Read Luke 24:1-12 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Wednesday April 20, 2017
In the moment of first realizing resurrection, the women are frightened.  In fact, in most moments of God doing something phenomenal, the response is fear.  Because, it calls us into deeper belief, it calls us to let go of the things that have a death grip on us.  It calls us to step out in faith. We revisit the story every year, hoping it will make a little more sense, that it will take a deeper hold in our lives, that it will help us to see the world differently, that we will be able to believe a little more so that the things of this world that scare the life right out of us loosen their grip.
Prayer:  God, breathe resurrection in all of the dead spaces in my life.  In my refusal to let go and move forward, in my moments of holding tightly onto grudges rather than grace, in my moments where I find more comfort in staying put rather than allowing you to guide me to joy and growth.  Amen.

The end of the world as we know it

Read Luke 24:1-12 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Tuesday April 18, 2017
On this tax day, we can say that while taxes are certain, death no longer is. In the resurrection narratives, Jesus’ appearance and body does not function like flesh and blood and bones.  He is able to appear in a room without using a door to enter through and disappear after breaking bread with companions on the road to Emmaus.   Yet in the midst of Thomas’ doubts, Jesus allows him to feel his wounds, so he isn’t just a vision, an apparition, or a memory. It is hard to wrap our heads around his resurrection and for many it is the ultimate stumbling block to faith.  It is more than an intellectual concept; it is something that we live. R.E.M.’s classic song “It’s the End of the World as we know it” is a fitting Easter song … for the women and the disciples, it really is the end of the world as we know it, and death no longer has the final world.  Anything is possible with God.
Prayer:  God, brea…

Nonsense

Read Luke 24:1-12 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Monday, April 17, 2017
The women return to the disciples and tell them what they have heard and seen.  Unlike in other gospel accounts, we don’t know if they ran back or took their time.  We don’t know what they actually believed.  We don’t know what they said, but the disciples thought their words were nonsense.  In other translations, they say they regarded their message as an idle tale.  Luke uses the Greek word leros, which is more closely translated as “delirious.”  The disciples thought the women were crazy and uttering nonsense.  How do you respond when you hear the impossible?  Do you think that it sounds crazy?  How do you respond when your perceived world order is turned up-side-down?  When the outcome is totally unexpected? What happens when you are preparing for a funeral and instead you receive resurrection?
Prayer:  God, breathe resurrection in all of the dead spaces in my life.  In my refusal to let g…

The empty tomb

Read: Luke 24:1-12 http://www.commonenglishbible.com/explore/passage-lookup Sunday April 16, 2017 When the women arrive and the body is missing they don’t know what to make of it until two men in dazzling bright clothes ask them “why do you look for the living among the dead?  Remember what he told you, that he would rise again?” Resurrection brings about more questions, stirs up more conversation, and allows space for doubt and wonder to co-exist.  It also begs the question, so what?  What difference does it make that Jesus was resurrected? Join us for worship this morning as we explore what it means to live a resurrection life.
Prayer:  God breathe resurrection in all of the dead spaces in my life.  In my refusal to let go and move forward, in my moments of holding tightly onto grudges rather than grace, in my moments where I find more comfort in staying put rather than allowing you to guide me to joy and growth.  Amen.

Love Wins

Daily reading: John 18:33-40 Holy Saturday April 15, 2017
Focus passage: “So you are a king?” Pilate said. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. I was born and come into the world for this reason: to testify to the truth. Whoever accepts the truth listens to my voice.”John 18:37
Jesus began his earthly ministry by announcing “the Kingdom of God is near.” And now as he stands trial he says “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world. If it did, my guards would fight so that I wouldn’t have been arrested by the Jewish leaders. My kingdom isn’t from here.”
This might be the most difficult passage of scripture to get our heads around. The Kingdom of God isn’t won by violence or coercion, it is won through the unconditional love of God that sustains and supports us no matter what.  
The cross then isn’t an act to appease a vengeful God, but a symptom of a world that solves problems through violence and not through love.
Take time today to contemplate the space between death and resurrecti…

Forgiveness

Daily reading: Luke 23:32-38 Good Friday April 14, 2017
Focus passage:Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing. Luke 23:34
Sometimes we find it easier to forgive when someone asks for forgiveness, because then we get the acknowledgement that they have wronged us. But here on the cross Jesus forgives without being asked. Jesus speaks a word of forgiveness because he embodies God and it is the nature of God to forgive. Before he can ask for something for himself, or say something to a follower who may be in ear shot, he speaks to God about you and me, he says “Father, forgive them.”
Even on the cross Jesus is ministering to us. Even on the cross after being humiliated, he does not allow the mob violence and his own execution change who he is. The sins of those killing him do not weigh him down, he is not burdened, or angered, or resentful, he does not yell out to the crowd “hey, I’m innocent! This is wron…

Humility

Daily reading: John 13:1-19 Holy Thursday April 13, 2017
Focus passage:So he got up from the table and took off his robes. Picking up a linen towel, he tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a washbasin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he was wearing. John 13:4-5
Christ who taught us to serve one another, begins the evening by   bending down and tenderly cleaning off the dust from the road, washing and drying the feet of those that have been following him.
Christ seeks out, of empowers and supports even the wavering and often wrong disciples.
In the midst of a highly charged evening, when Jesus is sure that one will betray, one will deny and the others will scatter in fear, he still kneels down and washes.  
We are called even in the stress of our days, to follow the example of Christ; to seek out others, to serve one another and to do it with grace and love. 
Be open to these opportunities today.  When tasks pile up, or take over and become mor…

Betrayal

Daily reading: John 13:21-30 Holy Wednesday April 12, 2017
Focus passage:After he said these things, Jesus was deeply disturbed and testified, “I assure you, one of you will betray me.”John 13:21
I am constantly aware of the vulnerability we are called to embrace in our faith community and in our closest relationships. I find that I expend a lot of energy guarding myself and yet God gently reminds me that our call is to love God and to love our neighbor and that means that we have to be willing to be vulnerable.
A mentor of mind, Rev. Herb Lynskey once posed this thought at a clergy retreat: “Judas was an answer to a prayer.” He was referring to when Jesus prayed before calling the Twelve.  I struggled with this thought because I like to vilify Judas to put him in his own box. I like to think that I would never be like him, that I would never betray a close friend. But to box him up so nicely keeps me from seeing a part of me I would rather not see. We all have the capability of being lik…

Darkness and Light

Daily reading: John 12:20-36 Holy Tuesday April 11, 2017
Focus passage: Jesus replied, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light. After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.” John 12:35
So much of holy week happens in the dark. Jesus shared his last meal with his disciples under the cover of night, took them to the garden to pray in the darkness, was arrested and taken into custody all under the cover of night. He was then placed into a cell, which was most likely a hole in the ground that he was lowered into, dark and isolated. According to Luke, darkness descended upon Jerusalem at noon on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.  
As we remember the stories of Jesus’ last day this week, we hear Jesus urge us to walk in the light and not in the darkness. W…

Unleashing Love

Focus passage John 12:1-8 Holy Monday April 10, 2017
Focus passage:Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume.John 12:3
John gives the perfume anoint-er a name, unlike the other gospel writers.  She is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.  John gives her context.  Mary and her siblings are having Jesus over for dinner, soon after Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead.  It is here that Mary brings in a jar full of costly nard and unleashes this powerful scent into the room, over powering any lingering scent of death and it takes over everything. 
Surely she did it out of gratitude; surely she did it because in that moment, as in many momentspriorto this one, she saw the presence of God in a powerful way in Jesus. She did it because, ultimately, he did come, and he listened, and he wept and …