Easter Wednesday

Paradox.

Abba, I do not understand.

Yesterday I lay on the Earth and looked up into trees

and asked you,

How can it be? How can the pain be so mammoth and the joy so immense?

How can we carry on, balancing the two? and all the myriad between the two?

I strive to move from dualistic thinking, to hold in tension all the things

(not good/bad but yes/and)

But I was taught, early and well, to see the black and white.

A day of joy in my own life; a day of unspeakable sorrow for so many others.

And shades in between.

Black and white won’t do. A rainbow, perhaps.

A prism that shows the ways our lives and days split among so many, many experiences.

I ask for the grace to hold the tension

To carry the prism

To remember the varieties of experience, each day, and to give thanks.

My son Brandon and his new daughter, born yesterday. A joy day for us.

My son Brandon and his new daughter, born yesterday. A joy day for us.

Categories: RevGalBlogPals, RevGalPrayerPals, Wednesday Prayer | 2 Comments

Revised Common Lectionary~~Doubting Thomas edition

Blessed are you,
O God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
in whom we receive the legacy of a living hope,
born again not only from his death
but also from his resurrection.
May we who have received forgiveness of sins
through the Holy Spirit live to set others free,
until, at length, we enter the inheritance
that is imperishable and unfading,
where Christ lives and reigns with you and the same Spirit.

Amen.

The readings for the Second Sunday of Easter may be found here or here.

thomas-slide1

© Henry Martin. Free use for ministry purposeshttp://sermons4kids.com/doubting-thomas-ppt-slides.htm

Two things we cannot doubt: no matter how tired we are, no matter how much Holy Week might have taken out of us, we still have to think about the next sermon coming at us; and if it is the Second Sunday of Easter, chances are that sermon might touch on Doubting Thomas. Of course most of us have no trouble conjuring up those doubts ourselves. What role does doubt play in your congregation, in your life? Does the story of Thomas shed any light for you?

The other theme of the gospel is that Easter is not, after all, the end of a journey but rather the beginning. The commentary at Working Preacher makes a suggestion I find intriguing: What if the disciples were locked away, in hiding because they were afraid of the risen Jesus after having failed to miserably to stay with him during his arrest, trial and crucifixion. Could it be that we are a bit afraid of the demands Jesus might make on us if we really took him seriously? What does Jesus us expect from us now that he is, indeed, risen from the dead?

Our reading from the Acts of the Apostles brings us the into the life of the disciples after Pentecost. As Peter addresses the crowds after the sending of the Spirit,he places the death and resurrection of Jesus squarely in the context of God’s might acts of salvation for the people of Israel and  of God’s overall plan for creation. Where do we see ourselves in this picture? Or do we?

Jesus appears to Thomas - John 20:24-29

JESUS MAFA. Jesus appears to Thomas, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=48302 [retrieved April 22, 2014].

Our second reading is the first of four installments covering most of the first letter of Peter. Here Peter reminds his audience that they have been given new birth through Jesus’ resurrection into an inheritance that is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” This brings us both joy in the present and hope for the future. Peter compares faith to gold which must be refined by fire. How might this image  embolden us in our ministry, strengthen our faith, hold us up in our life in Christ?

We might still be tired, preachers, (I know I am!) but the task is before us. How are this weeks readings speaking to you?What inspiration do you find to share on what may be a “low Sunday” for many of us. What questions are you pondering? Join the conversation; there is always strength to be found in our numbers!

Categories: Easter 2, Lectionary Leanings, Revised Common Lectionary, Tuesday Lectionary Leanings | 3 Comments

Tuesday Prayer

Ah, Holy One…

When I was up at dawn, 

thin streaks of pink marbling the sky,

the birds waking in gentle song,

while waiting for the puppy to “get busy”

I thought,

wow it’s so quiet…

I might could hear You if I 

closed my eyes….

but when I did,

the dull roar of the expressway

assaulted my ears,

interrupting the peace,

an infinite thunderous hum

of the everyday. 

Not what I expected, 

but indeed, 

I heard You. 

Amen. 

 

at the loud dull

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Narrative Lectionary: ‘No Doubt About It’ Edition (John 20:19-31)

2014-04-21 21.42.35One of the great things about being in the Narrative Lectionary is that we don’t always get the same ol’ lectionary readings that we get year after year. I, for one, did not miss John the Baptist this past Advent. I also didn’t miss the usual Transfiguration stories. And I was really looking forward to a different selection for the Sunday after Easter other than the annual piling on of the disciple named Thomas… but alas, that was not to be.

John 20:19-31 nrsv John 20:19-31 ceb

In the interest of full disclosure – I preached this text on Easter Sunday. My angle was (and is) this: Easter is not the end of the story. It’s the beginning of what’s next. And what’s next according to the community that gave us the Gospel of John? Church and Mission – the community of faith and the loving on the world that Jesus sends us to do and the community holds us accountable to.

When Jesus shows up – it’s church. There was the greeting “Peace be with you” – the passing of the peace. There were the hands and the side – at the communion table we gather around the body and the blood. There was the Holy Spirit being breathed upon them and the sending out of his followers to go out into the world – the charge and benediction.

How many of us are still in our locked rooms unwilling or unable to get out from behind the closed doors of disbelief… or guilt… or shame… or feelings of unworthiness. Take heart, because in this text of John’s even after Jesus breathes the spirit on the disciples, the following week they are still in the room with the doors locked.
What’s next?

How do we unlock and open the doors? How do we engage in the world around us the way God created and called us to do? The new commandment from Jesus is that we love one another. He said, “This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”

How do we do that?

We have to be willing to open our hearts and our minds to the world and to God and how God wants us to live and love in this world. And that… is scary. When we leave things open, anything can happen.

Another angle can emphasize how much Thomas’ faith journey mirrors many of our own.

In chapter 11 Jesus is told that his friend Lazarus is very sick. After a delay he decides it is time to go to him, but warns the disciples that the journey there will lead to his own death. Thomas responds with a vigorous, ‘all in’ approach – Let us all go and die with him!

A few chapters later and Jesus and the disciples are gathered around a table together for the last time. Jesus is telling them to love one another and to love others, trusting in God:
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.

Thomas interrupts: Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?

His interruption and questioning very much reflects someone who so badly wants to understand, but just can’t wrap their head and heart around it.

Then in a very real way the disappointment and violence and death of this world we live in pushes him to belligerently tell his friends:
Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

We’re quick to remember how Thomas doubted, we need to remember what came next. “My Lord and my God!”he said. My Lord and my God!

Other thoughts…

  • If you’re tired of preaching this one to the choir you could shake things up with the bodily resurrection debate. Would a physical body be able to just appear in a locked room… twice? Also, the offer is made for Thomas to touch, but does he? The text doesn’t say.
  • There are a lot of doubting Thomas’ out there – how do we give them what they need to believe? How do we give them Jesus?
  • Where are you headed? Please share in the comments!

 

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Categories: Narrative Lectionary | 5 Comments

Time to sign up for REVive!

Exhausted after Lent and Holy Week? Looking for a summer getaway designed to revive your soul and mind?

REVive 2014 comes in response to requests that we expand RevGalBlogPals’ Continuing Education offerings, which are designed to equip and renew by offering a meaningful program and by creating a climate of “galship,” our re-gendered word for the sense of Christian community we experience whenever and wherever we gather.

Click here to read about the program, Fishing in Galilee, led by the Rev. Dr. J. Mary Luti. Expect to be deeply immersed in scripture and to emerge renewed and, yes, revived.

We’re starting small this year with a retreat for 30-40 attendees at the lovely Walker Center for Ecumenical Exchange in Auburndale, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. Dates are July 16-19. Food is prepared on site with an eye to meeting special dietary needs. Register by May 1 at the earlybird price of $375, which includes all meals, materials and lodging.

Please contact RevGalBlogPals’ Director Martha Spong with questions at revgalblogpals at gmail dot com. We are working on a commuter option, but encourage you to consider living in community for those few days.

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Easter Monday a Prayer

Good morning God!
Here we are
We did it
Lent and Holy Week
Passover and Tenebrae
Running to Jerusalem and crawling to Calvary
And then, quietly, creeping into the Garden Tomb to seek …
You

The celebrations went on long
But meantime all the business of the world continued
People became ill
Others were called home
Babies were born
And couples committed their lives to each other

And now, the day after
We who serve need rest!
A day, or a week, planned or spontaneous
We take our leave
We take our sabbath rest
We seek refreshment so that we can continue to serve all those we are called to care for…
Whether full time or part time or unofficially
In towns and cities and villages
In community and in hospital
Wherever we are
We serve
The Risen Living Loving God

Touch us anew
Soothe and encourage
For you are the reason, the inspiration, the One
And we are yours

Christ is Risen!
Alleluia!
Amen!

Categories: Easter, Monday Prayer, prayer, RevGalPrayerPals, Sabbath | 1 Comment

Easter Sunday Prayer

In the joy and hope of this Easter morning, 

We sing Alleluia with the fullness of hearts.

Christ is Risen!

Love is stronger than Death!

Alleluia!

 

In the joy and hope of this Easter morning, 

In the midst of our singing and shouting, 

We know there are those who are bewildered,

and sad. 

We pray for those that have no hope, 

For those who suffer from depression, lonliness, and fear. 

 

We pray for those places and peoples in our world where death and domination rule, 

Where imperial powers ignore the poor,

Where war never ends, 

Where children are hungry, 

Where parents grieve because they cannot provide, 

Where accidents happen and death abounds senselessley. 

We pray for those held hostage to addiction and chronic illness that debilitates. 

 

In the joy and hope of this Easter morning, 

We realize the depth and breadth of what it means to be your Easter people. 

For we are the ones who are called to go into  the places in our lives and world

to work for justice and life for all in your Creation. 

It is up to us to bear witness to the promise of resurrection, 

to hold those in despair,

and believe for them, 

that Love is stronger than death. 

 

In the joy and hope of this Easter morning, O God, 

May we have the courage to bear your living Love

in every corner of our lives, 

so that your peaceable realm will be so, 

here on earth, as it is in heaven. 

 

In the name of the Risen Christ, we pray, 

Alleluia! Amen. 

 

Categories: RevGalBlogPals, Sunday Prayer | 1 Comment

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