The disciples said to Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.” John 20:25
We live in a era in which it is not proper to speak about the deep mystery of Easter. Okay, Jesus' resurrection gets one day. Why can't we be more like Mary and the disciples, who keep saying , “We have seen the Lord” until even Thomas believes it.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Here is the story. God emptied himself and was born into our world. One Friday, God made himself weak and vulnerable. He was betrayed, put on trial, mocked, beaten, made to carry his cross throughout all the streets of Jerusalem, he stumbles three times under its weight (imagine that, God being weak), and then arriving at the place of the skull, he is nailed to this cross. It is dropped into a hole. He is made to hang between heaven and earth. In agony for three hours. Then he dies. God’s envoy to this planet dies. This is the story.
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb...
We receive on Easter morning the blessing that Jesus spoke to Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen, but believe.” Reflect upon all that you see. Come to faith, like Peter, or Mary, or John. Just come to faith.
“Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” Jesus asked. “We can,” James and John answered.
Often times, preachers will preach sermons on how naive or selfish James and John were for asking for thrones next to Jesus in glory. But, I pray for myself and all of us here that we might have the courage of a James or a John or a Mary Magdalene or a Mother Theresa. We often hear sermons on how frail and stupid the disciples were. Sure they weren't the quickest to catch on to Jesus' teaching. Still, everyone of those twelve, and many of the women with them, went up that road prepared to suffer and die.
But Judas Iscariot said,"Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?"
If you were a friend of Jesus in the first century, could you see yourself behaving any differently from Judas? If we value money, security, and always having ourselves come out on top, then we will betray Jesus. It is only a matter of time.
Young people grow into an ever-widening circle of people for whom they must show love and compassion. First it is their siblings and parents, then their playmates, then the people at school, especially those who are being bullied or ostracized. As we enter into adulthood, our calling to compassion must extend to those who are poor, or subject to abuse.
Lent, is a process. A process is any series of sequential events that are guided by a master, in this case God, to take raw material, or people, from one way of being and transform them into a more useful end product. A process always involves some experiences that break down the raw material, or us.
The adopted Traditional Plan will force some members, congregations, and church leaders to leave because the United Methodist Church. Think of this exodus as three concentric circles. There are those clergy and laity who must leave because the church no longer recognizes the loving and covenantal relationships they have entered into, or because they are being asked to accept a gender identity which they feel is false. Surrounding this small inner circle of people who must leave, is a much larger circle of people who may choose to go...
Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
A beautiful vase is made mostly of space. Without the emptiness inside it, a tennis ball won't bounce. We tend to think that religion is about what we do; the songs that we sing, the offerings that we bring, and the words that the preacher says. Religion is really about the meeting space, the doorway, the emptiness, the wilderness, and the mountaintop where people and God meet.
Jesus doesn’t distinguish between type one enemies and type three enemies. He doesn’t distinguish between moderate enemies and total jerks. He doesn’t have one response for those who are merely annoying and another for enemies who are dangerous. He says, “Love them all.”
Because we aren’t there, in the same place as those crowds, we are reluctant to consider Jesus’ promises of blessing as something that is already happening. Those who were blessed in Jesus’ sermon were the same people who saw the blessings of his healing touch and his compassionate lifestyle. We tend to put these blessings up in heaven. Those who encountered Jesus looked for his blessing to be right now, on this earth.
"Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people."
Jesus didn’t start with a blank slate when he called disciples. He started with natural gifts that could be spiritually transformed. May it continue to be so in our lives. May we each become fishers of men.
In Luke 4, Jesus goes over the wall between us and those we consider foreign or different. He does this in two ways: First, by physically placing himself where he encounters the foreigner. Second, Jesus used the scriptures to show that all of the great people of the Old Testament went over the wall and lived with foreigners. Jesus' own stories, which have become our scriptures, always showed foreigners in a good light.
...he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
Since the beginning of time, those with means have shown little restraint in screwing over those who are born poor, or on the wrong side of a border, or to the wrong family. What is different about the current government shut down, is that our rulers have decided to go one step further and screw over middle-class people. What would Jesus do?