Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Life

Butterflies flew out of the Easter basket cocoon in my children's sermon on Easter Sunday. The kids tried to put them back in, and they wouldn't fit.
People have been trying for 2000 years to put Jesus back in the tomb, and he won't go either.
Any more than little Kailey will return to the warm, cozy womb that she emerged from last month.
A new life in Chirst means you can't ever go back to the old life. You are born again, made new, re-created. You are ressurected from whatever sin-filled death held you yesterday or last week.
My boys are fighting and friends in the same 3 minute period. They get so very angry over rule violations, but put it all behind them when they say "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you". Just I'm sorry doesn't really do much, I've noticed. The I forgive you is a new beginning, and things can go forward without the fight.
Christ is Risen
Christ is Risen, Indeed!


Friday, April 06, 2007

The worst day of my life

A Meditation on the Passion according to St. John.
Today is the worst day of my life.
I thought that the worst day of my life was when the angel appeared in my garden and told me I was going to have a son, and I didn't have a husband yet.
That turned out alright. Joseph somehow understood, and Elizabeth too. She told me she believed what I had been told, that my son was going to be someone special. She told me her son leaped in her womb when I arrived.
I thought that the worst day of my life was when we couldn't find a place to stay in Bethlehem, and my time was so near.
But really, the stable turned out to be perfect. From there we could hear the stars sing when he was born. In the stable the Shepherds felt like Kings. It was just the right place to begin. When the Kings came following him like sheep, I knew they were in the right place.

He did it, you know. My son. He lifted up the low and brought down those who were haughty. He was Love. He loved those shepherds who came on his birth-day. He loved the Kings who foretold his reign and his death.
I thought that the worst day of my life was when Joseph hurried us out in the middle of the night back to Egypt. I felt like Miriam all backwards.
But it was good to be in the land of Joseph, it was good to be welcome in the place where our people had been slaves. It was good to come back home again when the danger was gone.
I thought that the worst day of my life was on the way home from Passover, and Jesus was nowhere to be found.
I knew in my heart where he was. I knew then that he knew who he was, as I had always known. He was always my son. He is always my son. But I knew when I found him in the temple that he knew he was God's Son as well. The temple is his home that way, his Father's house.
I thought that the worst day of my life was when my Uncle ran out of wine at the wedding. It seems so trivial, but it was the only wedding of the season that year, and everyone was there, I knew he could do something, but he Jesus kept looking at me like I was, ... his mom.
When he finally decided to act, it was love all over again. Nothing big and fancy, I don't think more than three of us really knew what he did, but he filled their cups.
It wasn't easy, once he got started in the public eye. John baptised him and he lost his head soon after. Our hometown pushed him away. The scribes never let him alone.
All through it, though, he loved. That's why they followed, you know. It didn't matter if you were fisherman or fishmonger. Tax collector or tawdry woman. Tent maker or temple guard. He loved you and you felt like the most important person in the whole world.
People came and went. They came to be healed; they complained when it was on the sabbath. They came in droves to be fed, reaching for a scrap of bread; they chastised him for his choice of dinner guests. They came to hear the stories, and they took what they could.
If you listened like a child, like someone who has everything to learn, you went away filled with living water.
If you listened like a Scribe, like someone who has everything to loose, you turned away filled with deadly anger.
I thought that the best day of my life was just a few days ago, when the crowds welcomed him into town with Hosannas and branches. I thought, finally they know what I know, he is the Messiah, He is the Son of God. I thought maybe the tide had finally turned.
But now it is the worst day of my life. The tide had turned, and soon it was obvious which way it had turned. How is it that a few angry men can change the minds of so many? How did the Hosannas turn to Crucify Him? How did he get here, to the cross?
I'm waiting for my ram to appear in the bushes. Like Sara, when her son was led up the mountain to be sacrificed. The ram appeared in the bushes and her son was cut down. I want my ram to appear today. I can't survive without a son, no one will care for me with Joseph gone.
Is this my ram, this new son? Even on the cross, he's loving others. Forgiving everyone. Promising paradise to one who begs to follow, even in this his last hour. And a new son for me.
My son is the Ram, our sins on his shoulders like my scarf around my head. And like the lamb that we used to run out of the village with our transgressions, like the offerings slain upon the altar for our debts, he is here.
If this is Love, let it be, let it be.

Stop preaching the Gosple and start livin' it!

As I make butterflies for a children's sermon on Easter morning, I am listening to NPR's StoryCorps. Its one of the projects recording everyday stories of people's lives. This one about a refuce in a storm caught my eye in the midst of a busy preaching week: A Shelter Gave Refuge and Changed a Life.

Jesus lived the Gosple this week we recall, remember and re-enact.

God so loved the world,

God gave his only Son.

To die

For Us!

Thursday, April 05, 2007


It's Maundy Thursday as I write this, and I'm working on Good Friday. A link from The Issac Papers lead me to an article about the Judas Gospel. It got me thinking about all the questions that and the new "tomb of Jesus" stories are bringing up. So many asking "when", "how" and "if" of Jesus' death and resurrection. My question is "Why?" Why did a mother have to wait at the foot of a cross for her son to die? Why did loyal friends share a meal, and then deny knowing their Rabbi? Why is this the night that changed the world forever?

The night that changed the numbering of the world is ostensibly Christmas Eve, the night Jesus was born. Remember the B.C. and A.D. lables we used before politically correctness changed it? Not that that question of "When" or "How" Christ was born will ever be answered completely for the critics. The "Why" seems clearer to me:

He was born so that Shepherds would feel like Kings, and Kings would come running like sheep. He was born so Love would have a face and fingernails like each of us! I think Mary knew that He was born because " To know, know, know you, is to love, love, love you." And he does, love us that is. His whole life is an expression of God's love, and a perhaps over-the-top attempt to get us to understand that love, and to live in that love.

Why did people clamor for his meals, and scorn his dinner partners? Why did women beg for healing, and powerful men plot against him? Why did he connect with those who needed him the most, and alienate those who should have been able to spot the Messiah coming a millenia away?

Because he came for love, not power. He came in kindness and not in contempt. Jesus walked this earth with us, for us and among us, not above us. Jesus loves us, this we know. That's what the Bible keeps saying, in all of the stories, in all of the laws, in all of the songs. God love us and keeps loving us even when we don't love back.

That's why the sun stopped and the curtain tore and the earth shook. Love is powerful; more powerful than rulers and kings. More powerful than earthly constructs and contracts. The loss of Love for just a few moments was more than the earth could take. Love so strong that even the Devil couldn't keep it away from you. Why Easter Morning comes every year, every day, even if someone finds the bones of Jesus.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

God's spreading salt

It is nearly Easter, and God's spreading salt on the road for an end-of-the-season snowstorm. It's really sleet, but looks like the little round beads that come out of a beanbag.

I have an old picture of my brother, sister and I with my Dad and a big Snow Bunny. Sometimes it does snow at Easter. In half of the world, Easter falls in the winter and Christmas comes "after the flowers" in the summer.

But the Good News is that Christ is Risen no matter what the weather. No matter what images we can or can not use to the about the mystery of Ressurection. Even today. on Holy Week Tuesday!