Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easter Thoughts

A body missing is one thing; a living Presence, beguiling our spirit, is another. Had the body of Jesus been missing, and nothing more, that fact could not have been sufficient to convict the heart and command a life. Folks would have wondered what happened, and then, in time, as happens in the passing of days, forgotten all about it. But more than a missing body, it was a living Presence that startled Mary in the garden, invited Thomas to touch the wound, ate fish on the beach with the disciples and gave Peter another chance. That’s why we say, “He is risen, indeed!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Living Between the Pages.

The Bible begins simply: “In the beginning, God…” and ends, “The grace of our LORD Jesus be with all the saints. Amen!”*

Our lives are anchored by within these two giant seawalls: God in the beginning and Christ at the end, and by anchored, I mean safe. As Paul writes in Romans, there is nothing anywhere that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our LORD. Period!

With this in mind, where do we live? We live in the middle! We live between the pages, the first page of creation and the last page of grace. As one writer once put it, every good book has a beginning, an end, and a muddle! Yes, things get a bit muddled in the middle, but we’re anchored in the beginning and in the end.

Today, who knows what challenges will come your way, what trials of spirit and body will assail you, but this we know and this we believe: we live between the pages – it begins well, and it ends well, and so shall it be for us!

With faith, hope and love, we endure, and more than endure, we live in God’s love and grace.

We live between the pages!

*In the New Testament, saints are all those who a part of Christ. During the Middle Ages, the term was redefined to specify a class of persons who, by good works above and beyond, acquired “excess merit” upon which the “regular” folk might call – hence, “praying to the saints.” Nothing is further from the mind of the New Testament writers. We are ALL saints in the sight of God!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chasing the Wind

I think life is pretty much a tough and demanding journey.

From Adam and Eve being “escorted” out of the garden, Abraham and Sarah hitting the road to Canaan, and Jesus heading toward Jerusalem, life, with plenty of delights and joys along the way, is tough and demanding.

I think that’s the power of Lent – helps us get through the nonsense of America’s infatuation with the “pursuit of happiness” … which is just fine, but who’s ever found it? And what is it in the first place? And if it’s so elusive, so impossible to grasp, then what is it we’re pursuing? I think the framers of our founding documents had something of personal freedom in mind, without church or government telling anyone what to do, and I think that’s a good idea. But I have in mind this image – a dog chasing it’s tail, or a rabbit dashing about, or someone just busting their butt to find something, make something, experience something, buy something, drink and eat something, and when the day is done, going to bed with a haunting sense of emptiness.

Tough and demanding, that’s life. But, then what?

Joshua said to the people, “As for me and my house, we’ll pursue the LORD.”

Or maybe like Mother Teresa: “I’ll pursue comfort for the dying.” Or Martin Luther King, Jr., “I’ll pursue justice and civil rights.” Or J.K. Rowling, “I’ll pursue a story of loyalty and bravery and sacrifice.”

Jesus said, “I am with you always.” I like that. The writer to the Hebrews says, “we’re surrounded by a cloud of witnesses” – I like that, too. Folks cheering us on, and Jesus at our side.

When I’m too busy chasing the wind, I outrun Jesus and I leave the cloud of witnesses behind. I’m all alone, and that’s the toughest part of living these days. How alone we can be, and how alone so many folks are at the end of the day.

The Apostle Paul wrote: And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

I think we all end up chasing something. That’s why Lent is a good time to ask, “What is it we’re chasing after?” If life is pretty much a tough and demanding journey, Lent helps us make it count, really count for something.