with cracks like rifle shots broke up, the wind pushed it to the
shoreline and the warmer weather melted it off the lake, except for a
few remnants on the windblown shore.
occasional camper ventures out for a weekend.
return in force.
favourite by far is the return of the loons.
Calm after, Preparation for, Speck of Haunting Beauty
question is always
to this day, this month, this year, with this life, precious as
Christ has claimed it to be?
The path toward the light at sunrise
moment opportunities to do well, do the right thing, are before us.
Which will you choose this day?
Will you walk to the light?
Or will you choose to remain in the darkness of greed, self interest, deception, and destruction in order to just make it through the days you’ve filled with such pain for others, and your own soul?
[replace the above with and fill in your own choice of sin, evil, and darkness – we all have our favourites!]
light is truth, grace, health, purpose, and peace.
profound joy, even in the midst of grief.
The haunting loon returns with all the other signs of spring, by instinct, by the pull of nature, and for pure survival. Humans can choose more than survival and instinct. You can choose new life in the light, and choose to share it with everyone,
wondrous morning, we remember especially God’s victorious response
to death’s three-day claim on Jesus. We remember Jesus’
resurrection. And we hope for God’s resurrection response to all
claims evil has on us and on all people.
Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen Indeed!
The Darkness Before
we have remembered Jesus’ story, from the Palm procession into
Jerusalem, to his last meal with his disciples as he gave us the New
Covenant, … to his arrest and
his disciples deserting him, … to the questioning, the scapegoating
crowds, … to
Peter’s denials, and
mocking of Jesus, … to
and then his death and burial in an unused tomb. Rightfully so his
followers are fearful; they
hide behind locked doors.
All of this is so horrendous and unbearable.
we know the next part of Jesus’ story, because we celebrate it each
Sunday. We know that Jesus is Risen from the dead, back to life.
that evil played
against him and
overwhelmed so many people and then even Jesus himself in death …
Holy Week leading to Easter is so much more than that:
God did not just step in to defeat the death of Jesus. After all
Jesus is not the first to come back from the dead. Death is
– relatively speaking, – easily overcome, one person at a time.
Lazarus steps out of his tomb with grave clothes still covering him.
The young girl answers Jesus’ call Talitha cumi, and walks away
from her death bed.
we remember that God does something much, much larger.
The story is more than one resurrection
story is more than one resurrection. God
all evil. All
is not just laying down in one’s own bed and waking up the next
morning in one’s own home. It is to be able to do this after living
on the streets or in the woods for years, with no bed or home to call
one’s own, and
then one night having ones own bed to sleep in, in one’s own home.
It’s not just having three meals a day in the senior’s care centre and being able to give an CLWR offering for Easter, which will give meals to people starving in refugee camps who have fled genocide in their home countries. Rather it is as a child having only grass to eat on the walk out of Stalin’s drought in the Ukraine, and having survived years of hardships and hunger when there were no refugee camps. Then in one’s later years being able to make a donation that will feed others who now have no food.
It’s not just a love story of ‘girl gets guy’, and they waltz off into the sunset of life. It is growing up without friends as an immigrant, an outsider. Then evil being defeated means one finds love in the most unexpected place with the most unexpected person against the most unbeatable odds … in the family of what once was one’s real enemies.
not just Jesus coming back from the dead to live again, although
that’s a bit terrific already. It’s Jesus having taken on all
Evil and having taken on all the sins of every person who has and
ever will live. It’s having taken on the penalties
for all that sin along with the big
death for every person. Then
being brought back to live life. It’s having Jesus
on all that and having defeated it!
story is not like just standing at home plate and hitting a home run
out of the stadium. It’s standing at the plate, in the bottom of
the thirteenth inning, with a full count, down three runs, bases
loaded, with all your pitchers hurting, having been put up there in
desperation by the manager. You will never be here again, ever, no
matter if you play 1000 more games. Then
That’s like Jesus’ story; his life, suffering, death and resurrection mean so much more than we are able to imagine. That’s like our story or rather we each have a variation of that as our own story.
Jesus’ and in our stories, God defeats all Evil and all death once
and for all time.
sort of. God makes the promise visible to us, that one day, at the
end of this world, new life will be given to all the dead. There will
be a resurrection for everyone. That’s when God will put Evil to
promise to Abraham and Sarah took most of their life times before
God’s time was right for them to have a child, long past normal
time. God’s time to make this promise to us will come.
the meantime, today
we are God’s saints, not because we have done good things. Rather
are saints only because
us when we cannot
us the people who think the thoughts, who say the words, who do the
deeds of God’s perfect people. Jesus has pulled us from the grips
of evil where we’ve put ourselves, from where we only deserve
eternal death. From the darkest valley of the shadows of death Jesus
has brought blessed things to
us and out of
give life abundant to others around us.
do we respond to Gods’ work in and through us?
response can be to delve into Jesus’ story, again and again. Our
response can be to learn more and more of God’s purpose for us,
communicated by God from outside of time, beyond matter, from
infinity. God has compressed God’s will into Jesus’ life story.
God has funnelled it to us living inside of time, confined to bodies,
living a finite existence. God communicates everything we need to
know through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection story. Our
response can be to engage with Jesus’ story again and again our
Holy Spirit works in us to help us understand what we see and hear.
The Holy Spirit works in us so that like Mary in the Garden, we
recognize our shepherd’s voice and follow where he leads us.
Mary, we see angels but we may not know it. The Holy Spirit helps us
fill in the blanks. Like Peter, we may hear the women’s story, even
go to see for ourselves, and find the grave clothes neatly folded on
the stone death bed. Yet we not understand what it is that we see, or
it is that we do
not see. The Holy Spirit helps us comprehend the obvious but
God’s limitless creative power has just undone death through
the beloved disciple we may hear the women’s story, and see exactly
what Peter sees, and we may believe that Jesus lives. The Holy Spirit
helps us to grasp how we, as representatives of the human species,
just caught a new glimpse of God’s will and our place in creation.
Holy Spirit helps us continually change the rest of our lives, so
that we live as one
the whole fully
no longer need to compete with each other to succeed. God calls us to
the acceptable fast during Lent, giving of ourselves so that others
will have life abundant.
after Easter, God calls us to celebrate every day, not just how the
light of Christ frees us, and how that changes the rest of our lives,
but how we are to be Christ’s
Light for others. Everyone’s life can be changed. God
has a part in the creating the new creation for each of us.
we celebrate, even outright dance, the rest of our lives in Christ’s
we can, if we choose, and not just because Jesus is for us, but
because Jesus sends us to share that light with all people,
especially those in desperate need around the world.
Spirit helps us celebrate life with the most difficult people in our
lives, whether its a grouchy neighbour, a mean person we have to
relate to again and again, a nice but nosy relative, a recalcitrant
spouse, or a self-destructive friend.
we can celebrate and dance through the challenges that come our way,
because the Holy Spirit inspires and guides us to understand more and
more fully what it means that Jesus lived, taught, healed, suffered,
died and is resurrected back to life!
For we can, no matter our past or future, live well.
For we can, no matter our past or future, bring life abundant to all
wondrous morning we remember God’s victorious response to death’s
three day claim on Jesus. We remember Jesus’ resurrection. And we
hope for God’s resurrection response to all claims evil has on us
and on all people.
this profound hope we proclaim together three times:
Christ is Risen!
is risen indeed!
The Darkness Before
past Holy Week we
have remembered Jesus’ story, from his
triumphant procession into Jerusalem, to
his last meal with his disciples as he gave us the New Covenant,
his arrest, his disciples deserting him, and
the questioning, … to the
crowds scapegoating and condemning him,
his flogging, and Peter’s
denials, … to the
and torturing him.
we remembered how Jesus died sooner than
expected, nailed to a cross … abandoned
even by God. His
followers scattered and hiding,
filled with fear for their lives.
remembered how they buried him
in a rock tomb.
the darkness, portrayed in the last week of Jesus’ life on earth,
is so deep, embracing everything, and so unbearably deadly, the next
part of Jesus’ story is so much more than we can ever expect or
comprehend, yet alone completely remember.
time we encounter it, we see how much more Jesus’ story is. The
Light of Christ outshines such depths of darkness that we are
dumbfounded, astounded and awestruck, …
not just step in to defeat the death of Jesus. After all Jesus is not
the first to come back from the dead. Lazarus steps out of his tomb
with grave clothes still covering him. Jesus calls out Talitha cumi,
and the young girl walks away from her death bed.
Jesus story is more than one resurrection
story is more than one more resurrection. With Jesus’ resurrection
it’s all evil, all death defeated.
story is not just standing at home plate and hitting a home run out
of the stadium. It’s standing at the plate, in the bottom of the
thirteenth inning, with a full count, down three runs, bases loaded,
with all your pitchers used up. You’ve
been put up there to bat in
desperation by the manager. You are
mostly recovered from a chemotherapy treatment three days ago and
from surgery on
your left shoulder last month. You’re no
spring chicken at 65 years old. You will
never be here again, ever, even if you beat cancer. There’s
is no way you should be here. You just came back to
visit the team on the bench.
you hit a home run to the utter astonishment
of everyone and
to the great benefit
of a home city desperate for a team that would
what Jesus has taught us, just as Jesus taught his first disciples.
story. It is also
our story, or rather we each have a variation of that as our own
time we listen carefully we will be astounded and amazed at how God
acts out God’s will with love and forgiveness, Grace and mercy,
sacrifice and humility for us, and for all people, even our enemies.
what’s next for us?
easy to come to Easter worship, to be astounded by Jesus’ story and
to bask in the music and words and movements of our celebration of
life in the worship service and at breakfast. It’s easier yet to
then once again walk back out into the world that keeps us occupied,
forgetting what amazing things we’ve heard and seen. Who would
believe us anyway if we told them someone came back from the dead to
share God’s Word with us?
Isaiah’s New Heavens and New Earth
OT lesson from Isaiah for this morning, Isaiah speaks God’s words
of promise to the exiles in Babylon. They’ve lost everything and
been carted thousands of miles from home to be servants in a foreign
land ruled by some not so nice people. They are not only servants,
but they have years ago forgotten so much.
God creates new
Word comes, not to fix things up, but to create a new heaven and a
new earth. God’s words create, just as at the beginning of time. In
the new creation we will no longer be God’s wayward people. Instead
we will get to remain at home, cry to the Lord in joy and be a
delight to God.
It is a
Shalom vision of the Kingdom of God: there will be no weeping, no
cries of distress.
New creation ends all suffering and need
this world of Shalom,
of God’s Peace, there is no homelessness,
no hunger, no
climate-change-displaced refugees. There
are no untimely deaths, no
stolen lunches or unrewarded labour.
dog-eat-dog order of the food chain will end. Predators and prey will
live together in peace.
God’s new work in Jesus even more: perfect
vision in Isaiah is nothing compared to God’s work made clear in
Jesus’ story that we have reflected upon this Lent and Holy Week.
all things in God’s new creation will be re-created perfect.
have only a foretaste of this new creation, a promise made in Jesus’
Gospel emphasizes that Jesus came
to heal people, and with his death and resurrection to heal all
humans we often need healing. We often seek help and sometimes
what ails us is dealt with. Even less
frequently we even see that we are cured.
When it comes to the wholeness of creation
and our spirits we seem to be lost.
brokenness of creation is more than we imagine. Our brokenness is
more than we can imagine. The healing we need is so much more than we
Healing, more than duct tape
used to be that a good farmer
could fix anything except the economy with
bailing wire and pliers.
Now days we use duct tape and plastic ties.
works out just fine until your life depends on the repair.
like carabiners. There are so many kinds available today. I can get
two for $1.25. And they work as key chains just fine. Until they do
not, and my keys went missing because the cheap, carabiner I hung my
keys on did not stay closed. Whoosh, click or slip and the key was
goners. So now I use duct tape to hold the carabiner closed.
The fix when our lives depend on it
works just fine. But it would not be the fix needed if I were
mountain climbing and hanging all my weight plus the stress of the
wind blowing against me on that carabiner, tied by a rope into the
kind of a carabiner cannot be a two-for-$1.25 purchase. For all the
things we might be pleased to repair with
duct tape and plastic ties, God asks so much more of us when
it comes to our part in the new creation.
go through life, expecting that God just uses duct tape and plastic
ties to heal creation, we miss out on the marvellous mystery, the
eye-popping wonder, and the awe-filled power God uses to create a new
heaven and earth for us, in us, and among us.
After Jesus’ resurrection, God sends us out to share the good news, to voice the prayers of compassion with those who suffer, and to be the hands of Christ that deliver the new creation to all people.
When we listen carefully, do diligently, remember remarkably, we will hear and see Jesus working in ways we hardly understand at first. We will be floored by the amazing tales Jesus has in mind for us to hear and even see for ourselves.
We ask that the Holy Spirit will help us watch carefully, listen intently, and pray fervently, that God’s new creation may come among also us. But most of all we ask that the Holy Spirit help us as we get ready to be bowled over. It not a small fix or even a big fix with duct tape. God creates a new world, a new universe, and even a new you and new me.
the Holy Spirit to help us through it.
not, the Holy Spirit will put us up to bat, with the bases load, in
the bottom of the ninth, with the team needing us to hit a home run,
and the world needing it even more.
deeply and slowly. Keep your eye on the ball. Don’t forget ….
that’s just the start of God’s new creation.
about to use each of us in ways we could not dream of.
What was once alive, once green, once bright, is now in these days dead, withered and dark.
only a faint hint of days long distant in the most recent of times.
it to succeed
leave a legacy?
overrun others, destroying them with lies, in order to have more, in
order to cover up one’s sins?
suffer rumours and lies that destroy one’s reputation and finances
leaving one homeless?
This day, Jesus answered God’s call to submit himself to death, a torturous death, and to die.
Jesus succeed? Did Jesus destroy others, or did he allow others to
try to destroy him, and respond with grace and forgiveness?
of the world knew Grace and lived it well, more people would succeed
bringing the basics of life to others with their sacrifices.
world may seem dark, especially in these days when we remember that
God died, and remained so, for three days.
only the reflection in our memories of the light that has guided our
paths. But there will be a great light, that will shine in every
darkness, and bring justice, restitution, and new life to those who
are destroyed by others lies.
those who have destroyed with lies … may God have mercy on them.
morning we remember Jesus’ last hours, as the soldiers, by Pilate’s
orders, in response to the crowd’s demands, hung Jesus on the worst
instrument of torture, the cross.
the many characters in Jesus’ last hours. Judas, the soldiers, the
High Priests Annas and Caiaphas, Pilate, Malchus, Peter, the crowd,
Jesus’ Mother Mary, her sister Mary of Clopas, Mary Magdalene,
Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and of course Jesus.
of us were present in that horrific drama more than 2000 years ago.
Yet we are characters in so many terrible dramas that have taken
place in our own life times, dramas that are devastatingly so
French Historian and Anthropological Philosopher Rene Girard
identified the similarity that ties Jesus’ last days with our all
too common dramas as a common human sin, scapegoating. Girard pointed
out that we all greedily strive to have more than just the
necessities of life. Thinking that life is a zero sum project (that
there is not enough for everyone) we try to take from others so that
we will have more. That’s greed. And greed eats at our souls.
nearly always happens next is worse. Since we cannot tolerate that we
would be mutually so terrible to those close to us, we together find
an innocent bystander, someone vulnerable and uninvolved, someone who
we do not know well and therefore can bring ourselves to not care
what happens to them. Without any justification we project all our
collective sin and guilt onto that person, condemn them, judge them,
and ruin them. Working together we ease the unbearable conflict
Joseph’s brothers in the Old Testament getting rid of the evidence
of their horrendous sin against their own brother, we exile the
innocent person. We’ve attached our sins to that person and then
collectively forgotten about them and our sins, so that we can live
together in peace. The darkness hides that our peace is bought at the
price of an innocent bystander’s destruction.
exactly like the characters
exactly this manner Judas, the high priests, the crowds, Pilate, and
the soldiers condemn and kill Jesus. And we do this so often to other
people today. We may not use crosses to crucify, because we want to
be able to say we are not as bad as those who have gone before us.
Instead we use gossip, innuendo, and rumours to ruin innocent
people’s reputations, ruin them financially, and drive them from
when we are not Judas or soldiers or the crowd, or the high priests
or Pilate, we stand too often with the crowds watching as another
person’s reputation and finances are ruined. We watch and are too
afraid to interfere. We are even entertained and reassured as if to
say to ourselves, “all is well in the world if evil is uncovered in
others and they are made to pay. We, though, are good enough for
Clear story of God’s intent: the last scapegoat
truth Jesus came to be the last scapegoat, the last sacrifice needed
to set us all free from all sins, especially these terrible sins of
greed and scapegoating, of hiding from our own sins.
led Abraham to the mountain to sacrifice Isaac. But then God
interrupts the sacrifice providing a goat instead for the ritual. God
says: no more child sacrifice.
God led Jesus to the cross, as the last scapegoat ever needed, and to
give us Jesus’ life and death story so that we might learn more of
God’s intention for us, which includes: no more scapegoats.
forgives those who betray, arrest, judge and crucify him. God calls
us, instead of scapegoating innocent bystanders, to be that same
forgiveness for all people.
we are still in bondage to sin and unable to free ourselves, and we
continue to sacrifice others instead of ourselves.
are in the crowd again
we remember how we are just like that crowd again, as Jesus is raised
on the cross to die a torturous death.
We beg for
forgiveness … and time
ask for forgiveness. We hope we will learn to stop sacrificing
innocent people as scapegoats. We pray that God will intervene,
transform our sins into blessings, and make God’s will clear also
among us, in our words and through our actions.
so, we know we will continue to sin, so remembering Jesus’ story,
we beg God for mercy, and forgiveness, …
we remember Jesus’ last supper as he declared Gods’ New Covenant
with us by offering his body, the bread of life, and his blood, the
wine, to all people.
Covenant is handed down to us, starting with the disciples present at
Jesus’ last supper, to Paul, and through Paul to generations upon
generations. Each handed Jesus’ story on to the next so that this
Covenant of Life would be remembered and many lives could be lived in
response to it. Jesus uses an ordinary meal.
nothing quite like an ordinary meal that begins with a crisp, fresh,
green salad, with freshly squeezed lemon on top.
you’d like to add salad dressing, cheese, croutons, or tomatoes.
perhaps you’d actually prefer a lot of tomato sauce, all on one big
crouton with lots of cheese melted on top, with slices of pepperoni.
Okay maybe a big pizza instead of a salad.
an ordinary, nourishing meal.
Setting of the Last Supper
knows he and his disciples are at great risk in Jerusalem. For days
now he has taught in public and all has gone well. Jesus is ready for
what must come. They will betray, torture and kill him. He has not
given up, rather he has answered God’s call for him to suffer so
that all people will know about God’s forgiveness for them.
last night he gathers to celebrate the Passover with his disciples.
He makes sure that his disciples for generations to come will
remember him and thereby know God’s Grace. Jesus uses two very
common items of the meal, bread and wine, and instructs his disciples
to remember him every time they eat bread and drink wine. It may
sound like wine was a special component, but the water was not safe
to drink, so, if one could, one drank wine instead.
Each meal, Everyone
directed all of us to remember him each time we eat bread and drink
water or wine. The Church ritualized this meal and made it central in
worship so that it would not be forgotten. Still we’ve taken this
common meal, revered it, and reserved it for a special celebration
held sometimes at most once a month. At times we’ve limited who can
take part in the meal to just good people.
how we practice it, we do remember Jesus’ words, take it all
of you. Whenever you eat and drink, do this in remembrance of
of our common meals today include something to drink: a cup of coffee
or tea, or glass of water or even a good glass of fruit juice and
spritzer to whet one’s appetite.
Meal to Remember and Learn from
made the New Covenant at their Passover Supper so that his disciples
would take note. He gave us his words to ensure we would remember,
even if we would not practice, what his words tells us.
intends that we remember and discover again God’s purpose for each
of us. God gives us Jesus’ example to follow, giving up any
privilege we have, humbling ourselves to serve others, sacrificing of
ourselves so that all others will receive justice, freedom, food and
homes, and everything else they need for the abundant life God
intends for each of us. Jesus shows us how to forgive everyone
always, even as he dies on the cross.
us commonly have vegetables at our meal, green and dark coloured,
maybe a variety of cut vegetables with a creamy cheese sauce on top.
Common Food Items, With Great Effects
does something very uncommon at his last Passover. He washes the feet
of his disciples. It is a task for a servant. Today foot washing is
not part of meal preparation, since we do not walk everywhere on
dusty roads wearing sandals, and we do not recline to eat.
and drinking, though, will remain common as long as humans live,
ensuring that celebrating the Lord’s Supper may be common enough,
as long as Christians remember and hand on what has been handed on to
the generations remembering Jesus’ Last Supper has held many
families and churches together, kept many falsely incarcerated,
exiled and oppressed people alive when they could not gather for
worship. Along with our simple confession that Jesus is Lord, this
meal has helped preserve the faith in many places many many times in
history when all seeme lost. This meal of simple items has soothed
the anxious souls of countless Christians through the generations.
heart of our common meal comes down to some protein, perhaps a little
roast beef, pork ribs, or chicken. Maybe a fresh fish from the lake
via the grocery store, a handful of mixed nuts, or even eggs.
The New Covenant
heart of his last supper Jesus establishes God’s New Covenant with
us. God has made covenants with the people before.
the first was the covenant with Noah, when God promised never again
to wipe out creation with floods. It is marked by the rainbow in the
the greatest in the OT is God’s Covenant with Abraham. God promised
Abraham and Sarah descendants enough to make a great people and land
for security and stability. This covenant is marked by the Passover
meal recounting how God delivered our ancestors from slavery,
bringing them through the wilderness into the Promised Land.
Covenant in Jesus’ blood poured out for us is God’s most complete
communication of who God is, and how God relates to us with Grace and
forgiveness made possible through God’s own sacrifice.
off our common meal we’ll include a light fruit dish with coffee
hagen daaz ice cream. OK too uncommon and too expensive. So maybe a
slice of apple, cherry or pumpkin pie with a scoop of vanilla ice
cream on top, not a five quart scoop. Just one simple scoop as a bit
of a teaser, on top of a good meal, to help us remember the meal, for
hours to come.
grow hungry again the next day and start over feeding our bodies so
that we might live.
For Each and Every Christian
makes the New Covenant with each of us in our Baptisms with water and
Word. God renews this covenant with all of us at each meal.
offer each person Christ’s body and Christ’s blood, we say
Christ’s body given for you, and Christ’s blood shed for
gather as a community to share Jesus’ meal with everyone. Jesus’
gifts, though, are not just generally available. They are very
specifically for each of us, to heal the brokenness and suffering of
each one of us, to nourish our spirits and to give each of us
Tie the two together: our daily meals, Jesus’ Last Supper celebrated
are common meals to nourish our bodies. We hope and work so that
everyone has at least one of those each day. We humans also require
meals to sustain our spirits.
no challenge, no work of the devil, no grip of sin, no enemy’s
attack on us that is impossible for us to face, because we feed on
the body and blood of God’s own Son. God’s Spirit in and through
us is undefeatable, even by death.
this his last supper, Jesus goes out to pray in Gethsemane, until the
we continue our worship service with the next segment of God’s
story given to us through Jesus’ life, remembered and handed on to
us, so that we can hand it on to others, … so that all may
have life abundant.
wood stove, set up to provide heat in the severe -40°C winter worked
provided hot water for coffee in
and tea throughout
without it’s challenges as the stove pipe got so hot that it melted
the plastic tarps of
the shelter around the stove.
Week is our opportunity to remember and learn ever more from Jesus
story. Jesus’ story is a life full of communication from God to us,
in a way we can understand.
God tried to communicate to us with Word, creating a good creation. We messed it up, with trying to be smarter than we are and blaming others for the results. Kicked out of paradise we even became murderers, for a ‘good’ start.
God tried to communicate to us with the Law, we turned it into control of others.
tried to communicate to us with the prophets, and we thought they
were crazy, because they really were, trying to embody God’s Word
does that to humans.
rebuilt the damaged tarp sections, put in a heat shield and a remote
thermometer. Now gets as hot as 70°C without problems.
sent his Son, a full life story lived that we can learn. Jesus came
to live, teach, heal, and do remarkable things like calming the chaos
of the waters.
exists beyond time, matter, limits. Now Jesus has all the limits of a
human. Paul says it well: Jesus emptied himself of being other than
human, and became limited as a human.
real purpose of Jesus’ life was his death. That’s this week’s
one really listened at first, and those that did usually got it all
wrong. Listen to the parade as Jesus enters Jerusalem. They think
that Jesus is God’s way of giving them control again of Jerusalem,
maybe. That’s their hope.
harsh winter slowly gives way to cool spring temperatures, and the
2000° C inside the furnace became way too hot in the shelter. Always
the thermometer showed a max of 70°. It dawned finally on me that
the thermometer could read no hotter than 70°C but the actual
temperature could be much more!
the triumphant entry parade into Jerusalem, things go downhill fast
and hard. Jesus is betrayed, deserted, tried, denied, whipped,
condemned, mocked, tortured, abandoned, and murdered on a cross.
is no greater measure of suffering.
came to live and die exactly like this. Why?
came to make clear: God understands our suffering, even if our
measure seems to have an upper limit, God has no limits, God
understands us, our pain, our sin, our suffering, our death.
lived it to show us God’s intent for us.
Jesus dies, he forgives those that mock, torture and kill him.
is what God wants us to be to each other. Not sinners, destroyers,
scape-goaters, or mockers, torturers, murderers, or chaos makers, not
even people who cannot listen to others pain and suffering and not
know what to do.
know God knows our suffering.
our suffering we experience what others suffer. We know what we most
need when we suffer is forgiveness, love and not to be abandoned.
learn this so that we can give God’s gifts of forgiveness, love and
being present to others as they suffer.
came as Jesus to show us God’s goodness and love for us has no
limits. God’s forgiveness has no limits. We may not easily hear,
listen or understand, but we have Jesus story handed from generation
to generation. We can always learn more if we pay attention.
story is God’s new limitless thermometer by which we can measure
what really goes on in this world. There’s lots of heat. There’s
even more love, forgiveness, and compassion than we are ever capable
week, we remember, we listen as we can, we learn anew as we are able.
Jesus story we know and trust, no matter what we do, what we succeed
at or fail at, God understands our yearning, our chaos, our
always loves, forgives and is present with us …
lots of water spread across the low spots.
big, throny bushes, no green trees, and no crowds … in fact great
solitude and quiet.
settling in as a guest of the Queen,
chosen of my Lord,
shores of a small quite lake,
the oil company bought it all up,
means the Queen still has a small plot
shares, by law, with a few homeless,
quite a few wealthy land owners looking for
of nature: health and joy.
There’s also enough detritus left around that proves there are a number of irresponsible beer drinking, condom throwing, and garbage dumping foolish visitors.
So I took a bag with me on my walk around to collect some of the detritus. Lots more, like the condoms, still lay strewn on the ground, things that I needed more than just one bag to be able to pick up and haul out for other fools.
Why does the Queen receive such fools?
Why does the Creator tolerate such fools?
Perhaps because one fool is pretty much like another, and all are fools in one way or another.
My call is to be a fool for Christ, so there is that.
And I took a quiet walk around tonight before enjoying a quiet night, with only a couple parking for hours, depositing another condom and toilet paper to found on a quiet morning walk before the full light of dawn.
Solitude is precious as are a good night’s sleep and the clear light of truth.
Procession with Palms Luke 19:28-40 Readings and Psalm Isaiah 50:4-9a Psalm 31:9-16 Philippians 2:5-11 Luke 23:1-49, The passion of the Lord
My wood furnace is setup for heat through the coldest -40° temperatures. Now with spring arriving, at more than 2000°C inside the stove and at the ceiling hotter than 70°C, the heat is too much. What works for one extreme definitely needs adjusting for other circumstances.
Today’s lessons all (except for the Processional Gospel) speak about suffering. Everyone sees more than enough suffering in a lifetime, suffering of one kind or another.
During Holy Week, starting today with the Passion stories, we hear about Jesus’ suffering. Easily enough we wonder why all this suffering. We mean for ourselves, but it’s Jesus’ suffering we read about. The question really is, why does God not come and save Jesus, and us while God is at it, from all the terrible sufferings that Jesus and we must endure. After all God is all powerful, all loving, all knowing. Certainly God could do this, could he not?
question about our suffering, and Jesus’, is really a small part of
a much larger, problematic question concerning our faith that has
plagued thinking followers of Jesus since the earliest days after
question is ‘Why did Jesus have to suffer?’
Or before that, ‘Why did Jesus have
to go to Jerusalem?” Or even before that ‘Why
all of it? Why did God need to become a human? Why
did God need to give up existing beyond time, outside of matter,
and before even words or thoughtsand becomelimited by
time, body, and human thoughts and words? Why did Jesus,
to use Paul’s words, empty himself to become a mere human?’
let’s look at the results of God becoming incarnate as Jesus
and ending his life suffering on the cross.
of Jesus’ story you know beyond any doubt that all your sins are
forgiven, that you are made right with God your Creator, that you
deserve death yet you get life and life abundant. And all that
applies to each of us. Then there’s the truly
astoundingly awesome result of Jesus’ life: All of that applies to
every human who ever lived.
upshot of all that is that we humans do not need to strive to please
God. God’s taken care of that. We can stand before God without
fear, free from all the destructive actions that stem from unhealthy
fear. We are free. We are free from all the guilt, the missteps, the
risk of future missteps … we are free from all that would bind us,
hold us back, and inhibit us.
then are we free for? We are not free for our own selfish interests
or pleasures that cost other people their lives.
free to sing out God’s praise.
free to declare Jesus is Lord with our tongues and actions. We
are free to be Christ’s voice, feet, and hands, bringing the same
news and the same abundant life to everyone on earth now and into the
Luther named this freedom as a freedom to be slaves to Christ.
Freedom from sin, and bondage to Christ’s way and will for us.
is the result of Jesus living and dying as a human.
There are lots of answers, but the most profound is this:
is God to tell us about God’s will, God’s hope, God’s desire
for us to be forgiveness for others?
between God and humans is incomprehensibly huge, by definition. We
have a problem hearing God speak. Remember God is outside of time,
matter, and any limit.
spoke words to create the world, with us in it, and God said it was
thing you know we were messing with God’s goodness, turning the
paradise into a competition to be smarter and blame the other. So we
lost paradise and spiralled out of control … as murderers, just for
cannot communicate to us clearly enough God’s intent for us.
gave us laws. We turned those into demands we placed on others to
condemn and control them, to take life away from them, and to give us
more of creation.
God sent God’s only son. We have his story. It’s quite the story.
We remember the most powerful events of it this week: Jesus’
triumphant entry on a lowly donkey into the capital Jerusalem run by
Herod, controlled by Pilate. Leaders, present, try to minimize the
stir and the inevitable collision. In response Jesus tells the
religious leaders if these were silent, the very stones would cry
permeates everyone around Jesus. The story continues with betrayal,
desertions, denials, buck passing, flogging, mocking, disgrace,
torture and death. The disciples become silent. As
Jesus hangs on the cross, they are scattered, cowering in fear. God
as a human dies.
dies Jesus the Son of God declares forgiveness even for those who
torture and kill him. His followers retreat into hiding. Yet the
faith grows and becomes codified and survives as a distinct religion,
lodged in written Word and faithful people gathering to worship as
often as possible.
Son’s story is handed on from one generation to the next.
gives us so much in one exemplary life, Jesus’ life, a life God
encourages us to imitate as we hold the acceptable fast that brings
justice, freedom, food, and homes to those without.
came that we would have and not lose this story, or the profound way
it speaks about who God is and what God wishes for all people.
was truly human. He suffered as we suffer. This was not playacting.
Jesus knew what it was to feel abandoned even by God.
our suffering, it’s like the wood furnace set to provide heat for
the severe Canadian winter, which out of time or season overwhelms us
and is as hot as hell (or so it seems.)
is precisely in our suffering that God teaches us how others suffer,
and why it is so important that we not lose sight of God’s intent
for us: that we sacrifice everything we can in order that all other
people may have life abundant. In our suffering we most clearly
encounter God’s Grace for us, and how it is meant to be shared with
in due season, and our suffering taken on in order that others may
live, give us the ability to survive even the most severe winter of
story is a story worth listening to, though so many people in the
story do not listen at all. We pray we will not be one of them. Yet
we are assured that no matter what, God forgives us, stays with us,
and lives with us as if we had never sinned at all.
week’s story is not one to celebrate with abandon. Jesus’ Passion
is a sombre story to delve into, to remember and always learn more
story in Jesus’ life story will never be done teaching us about the
abundant life God has for us, each and all.
Tonight’s Theme Our continuing theme for this Lent is from Isaiah 58, that we hold a fast acceptable to God, one that brings justice, freedom, food, and homes to those in need. That combines with the weekly theme, always having to do with change, and tonight specifically we look at Changing Plans.
Lessons Psalm 2 Isaiah 52:13-15 Mark 10:32-34
Plans of Mice and [Wo]Men
all have had plans. But God’s plans for us are larger. How many of
us have planned our next steps as children moved out for jobs,
university, trade school or full-time employment and even marriage.
Then they rebound back home to recover before leaving again to make
their way in today’s fast changing world.
Lessons: God ‘Changes’ Plans OT vs NT God
readings seem to reflect an old tradition that God approached humans
one way in Old Testament times. Then God changed his plans with
Psalm 2 God observes the nations conspiring against God and God’s
anointed. God laughs at them and speaks to them with fury terrifying
them, before warning them to serve the Lord in trembling submission
or else God’s wrath will be quickly kindled against them and they
comparison listen to the Gospel from Mark where God’s own people
condemn the only Son of God to death. Then they hand him over to
others who mock, spit on, flog and kill him.
roles are reversed: God bears the fury and wrath of the people and in
the end God perishes. It is as if instead of demanding obedience God
finally figured out that humans could never stop sinning so
God decided to bear the whole cost of forgiving their sins.
Thereafter God asks, calls, entices, and inspires the people to do
what is right and needs to be done.
reveals to us the heart of God
know that Jesus came to teach, cure and care for people, and to die
on the cross as the last sacrifice or scapegoat required. The cross
on God’s heart becomes so undeniably visible with Jesus’ death
and resurrection that we can only be astounded.
though we deserve nothing but death and void, God chooses to forgive
our sins. God claims us as children, and we have the most meaningful
work possible: to follow Jesus’ example of giving everything we are
in order that others will have justice, freedom, food and homes.
abundant life in response to Jesus
sacrifice may even hurt, yet this is what God created us to be and to
do. This is God’s larger plan for us all so that we have life
abundant. Abundant life has very little to do with abundant wealth,
property, possessions, power and influence over others, or
self-serving pleasures. Instead God calls us to sacrifice and to then
celebrate God’s successes, when lost souls return to God. At times
that is each of us.
We see more
of God’s plan, God remains the same
tradition that I accept is that God does not change God’s plan or
approach to humans. Rather God was marked by the cross since the
beginning of time as is witnessed to also in the OT, for example in
tonight’s reading from Isaiah concerning the suffering servant.
What certainly does change, and markedly, is who we people think God
is. What changes is how we understand more and more of God’s larger
plan for us.
the ‘OT’ idea of God
we so often get stuck thinking that God demands and we have to obey;
that as we merit we get rewarded with God’s protection or we
perish by God’s fury, and the next generation starts all over
learning to obey God or else.
vs God’s larger plans
this view of God’s world, we must take control making worthwhile
plans for ourselves. We plan for a great house, or job, or spouse, or
children, or activities in retirement. Some even succeed with our
always has larger plans for us.
than 7 decades ago a farm boy, inspired by a missionary visiting at
his church, decided to become a missionary doctor. He worked his way
through college, through a tour with the army in Korea, through
medical school and reported to the church for service.
church eventually sent him to Africa. The man planned to spend his
life there with his wife and children. But God’s plan for him was
man got sick, was forced to return home to a family practice. God had
larger plans for him and the man ended up studying again to become a
pathologist. He set up a business in the ever-changing world of
medicine, brought in a partner to expand and improve their services.
Still God’s plan for him was larger.
it went with God always moving the man about, even to Antarctica in
the winter when he was 70, until at the age of 75 with his back
crumbling, a double heart by-pass, and needing both knees and a hip
to be replaced the man was ready to rest and stay home. But God’s
plan for him was larger. The church sought him out to return to
Africa to rebuild a medical delivery system that had fallen apart
mostly due to corruption. Now in his 90’s he still travels six
months of every year raising funds and the other six months he
oversees the building of a children’s hospital in Zinga, TZ.
God’s plan sees that we need to be rescued from disaster. I heard
from another pastor about Sarah, who went to college in the States.
Sarah met Jim, through campus ministry. They made great plans. He
planned to be a surgeon and she a nurse. They both wanted lots of
children. God seemed to agree with their plans as they married and
both were accepted into their respective majors.
Jim was drafted for Vietnam. He served as a medic and came back in a
wheelchair with one arm and unable to have children. All their plans
were taken from Jim and Sarah.
not sure that was God’s plan for them, but God was there for
them. Then Jim died suddenly one night, a hidden complication
from his injuries.
changed plans and became a family doctor. She married a farmer and
they had three wonderful children, now grown up with families of
their own. God had a large enough plan for Sarah.
the Devil has his way with our lives, but always God’s plans are
we’ve thought God is vengeful, demanding, wrathful, and the warrior
protector of us, then we may be in for a great surprise.
protect US interests around the world the CIA often provided wet work
and weapons to bring to and keep in power tyrannical dictators who do
the US’s bidding and keep their people in line. It is a devil’s
plan, in response to which God often brings in a larger plan.
CAI vs CIA
Three Cups of Teaand Stones into Schools
Greg Mortenson tells the story of the Central Asia Institute, the
CAI, not to be confused with the CIA.
project was born of a plan to change the world toward peace through
providing schools and schooling to girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The girls, who would likely become mothers, would then educate their
daughters and their sons. We know education is the most
crucial piece to help the poorest in the world make life better for
Central Asia Institute was hardly perfect because Mortenson, raised
in Tanzania, was unpredictable and spontaneous. He rarely operated on
a clock or even a calendar. Still the CAI was an effective project
that made a real difference in a real way: by sacrifice and through
idea of education for young girls was picked up by the CIA as a model
for diffusing hostilities, to little effect. Hatred of the west runs
also adopted the plan, unfortunately with great success, destroying
schools for girls and establishing madrassas for boys which taught
hatred of the west, and trained them for terrorist attacks around the
real life the devil has life destroying plans.
As we Grow,
we see the appropriate fast for us
grow and change. Our plans change as we grow. As we learn more of
God’s larger plans for us, we can better be God’s agents of grace
for the strangers, refugees, hungry, homeless, the oppressed, and all
those suffering injustice. Yet often God’s large plans catch us off
challenge is to discern at this time a) what is God’s larger
plan for us to bring life abundant to others, and b) what the devil
is trying to do to our lives that takes life from us and others.
is always there for us, no matter what plans we have, but God wants
us to change our plans to better match Jesus’ model for our lives.
Jesus’ model is about making the acceptable fast, the sacrifice so
that others may have life abundant.