Saturday, April 4, 2015

Holy Saturday Silence

Our journey through Holy Week has brought us to the place where Jesus’ bodily presence is no longer among us. The eucharist has been consumed and the church is no longer the house “of the Lord”, but a structure like any other. In a similar way, we feel this at times in our own lives - empty, without direction, bereft. We go running to the tomb, hoping to see some stirring of life, but find only silence. 

Silence. We’re not very familiar with it these days. We have earbuds and podcasts and news cycles and talk radio and social media that robs us of any chance of a silent moment. We’re uncomfortable with silence and do everything to avoid even a tiny dose. We call it an “awkward pause”. Yes, silence is awkward for us, cumbersome and unwieldy.

But it is silence that always reveals the depths of any situation. Only silence allows us enough “space” to let things settle and just be. Only silence allows the truth to bubble up and presumptions to settle down. How quickly we scramble to fill up any silent spaces in our lives.

As the story goes, a couple of women went to the tomb the morning after Jesus’ crucifixion. They went early, in the quietest time of the day. There’s not much talking that takes place in a cemetery, but there’s something else. There’s a language spoken there that goes beyond audible hearing. It’s a place where hearts talk to one another. There’s a knowing in that silent space, deeper than the mind can conceive. 

And so we are here today in this silent space with Jesus. Like those women, don’t look to see him with your eyes. Don’t expect your ears to hear his voice. But if you can give yourself a time of silence, you’ll see and hear from a place in your heart that will calm your tattered nerves, ease your doubts, and restore you from the inside out. In silence you will experience God’s love for you, not as the result of someone telling you that God loves you, not because of any creed, but because you have chosen to follow your heart to the silence of the tomb. 

Holy Saturday holds the key to the resurrection. Without a visit to the tomb, we will never discover that it is empty! May you be blessed as you wait in silence on this holy day. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good ? Friday

Good Friday Service tonight at 7PM

Here we are at Good Friday. Just the name of this peculiar day leaves us scratching our heads. How is the cruel death of an innocent man in any way “good”? And what in the world does the cross have to do with us in 2015?

The meaning of the cross has little to do with punishment, and everything to do with example. The undeniable message that keeps coming through these few days of Holy Week is that Jesus allowed everything to unfold exactly as it did. In the garden of Gethsemane he consents to the impending suffering. He refuses to protect himself, or be protected by his sword-wielding followers. He remains silent before Pilate. Ultimately, he is hung - bloodied and betrayed - between two criminals, one we call good, the other, bad.

The cross, of all the possible symbols, is the image that has represented our Christian faith from day one. Strange? You bet! What in the world does this mean? 

In addition to offering forgiveness (that’s just one component of what was achieved through the cross), Jesus is doing something of even greater importance - giving us the instructions for how to “do” life! The cross is the symbol of our faith because it shows us that when we hang in the middle of good and bad in our own lives, without eliminating either, without fighting, defending or refusing what life brings us, we arrive at peace - the peace that passes our limited understanding. Peace will come to you when you too, can learn to stop fighting and resisting what life brings you. This is what it means to follow Jesus, to “pick up your cross”. It means to literally put your life in the hands of a loving (not wrathful) God, just as Jesus did.

So when things turn difficult, relax a bit. Trust. Let go. Be patient. Allow God to work in your life, without trying to control everything. In time, you will get better at it. In time, placing yourself in God’s care will become your first choice, not your last.

Through the cross God is reconciling all things. He is allowing all things to serve his ultimate purpose. How do we know this? Because Jesus survives this ordeal, and not just survives, but emerges glorious and victorious in his resurrection. This is our hope! This is why we needn’t fear whatever life may bring us, and why the resurrection of Jesus on Easter day is the source of the greatest hope ever given to mankind. 

Listen to some of Jesus' his last words to his disciple-friends - hear them as if he is speaking to you: 

"You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy…and no one will take your joy from you.” 
May you be blessed on this Good Friday and be ready to rejoice on Resurrection Sunday!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

What is Holy Thursday, anyway?

Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. The calendar and the Church tell us that these are pivotal events in the history of the world, but it hardly seems that way when we’re having to be at work and trying to juggle the outfits and meals that go along with the “holiday”. 

A brief note about Holy Thursday: what we commemorate today is nothing less than a total reversal of all that we assume to be valuable in this world - power, prestige and possessions. Jesus did this in two very distinct moments that we generally overlook, except on this day. 

The first thing that Jesus did that changes everything is that he gave us “communion”. This is not just a stale tasting piece of bread that a man (usually) in robes hands out to those who are “worthy”. Nothing could be further from the truth! What Jesus very intentionally put into place was a way for him to be “in” us. He is no longer “out there” somewhere, but physically taking up residence in our bodies - leading, guiding, speaking and experiencing our life “in our skin”. This why we proclaim at Christmas time with full voice his name: Emmanuel, God with us! 

Communion is solidarity. Communion is favor and advocacy and empathy. Communion means NO separation. This changed the way mankind had perceived God since the very beginning, and it can radically change your views and your LIFE this Holy Thursday!

Another thing that Jesus did to change the dynamics in his relationship to us comes through this statement: 

I do not call you servants  any longer, because the servant  does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.

History has always been about masters and servants, even to this present day. If we look closely, we see our own concept of God has been completely shaped through the lens of “Lordship”. Lordship doesn’t create love. It creates fear. Jesus has turned that table upside down. To prove it, he gets a basin and starts to wash the grime off of the feet of his disciples, his friends. He’s letting us know that we can approach him through love - that fear is NOT the basis for knowing God.

Please come tonight to the Holy Thursday service as we commemorate these astounding acts of Jesus. Come ready to receive love like you’ve never experienced it before. We will participate in communion. We will wash one another's feet. We will begin to undo the false ideas of God that we’ve held for so long. That, is called healing.

Holy Thursday 7PM 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

come. eat. drink.

Live to eat. Eat to live. Which is it? According to Jesus, the food we live to eat won't get us very far. Turn the stones into bread...what a great idea! End hunger forever, for stones are everywhere and plentiful. But Jesus wouldn't do it, even though he was starving.
Live to eat or eat to live? 

On this day over 2000 years ago, bread came down from heaven. True bread. Bread that would give life to our souls. Just as Jesus promised the woman at the well that the water he gives would quench thirst forever, so now he offers the bread of life. 

But we still don't understand. We're still repelled that he offers his body and blood as food and drink. He's a mystery man, even to his disciples. But there were a few who hung on in spite of the craziness, in spite of utter confusion in their heads about where this was all going and... what was he talking about anyway? He lost them. 

This is his way, The Way, moving ahead without telling us clearly what he's doing. We try to follow, but we're lost. If only he would explain. If only we knew where he is going, where he is leading us. If we could just see the Father, as Philip bemoaned.

On this day so long ago, Jesus wondered if anyone would actually stay with him. He knew it was hard for them, like a camel going through the eye of a needle, and he knows it's hard for us. So he asks, "Will you also leave?" 

The question is not a scolding. It's a plea. A plea for us to stick with him in spite of our own arguments against him. A plea to see him as God, even as our culture whittles him down to a wimp. A plea to have confidence that he is going to make all of this work out in a fantastic way. A plea for us to look beyond immediate circumstance to the things of the spirit.

Amazingly, our decision to stay, made in our hearts with every passing day, depends on what we eat.

Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you... the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."         They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”  John 6:32; 51

May you feast on his food and live an eternal life.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014