Apr 22, 2011

Just Friday! (Good Friday)

On this Good Friday we listen to the words of Thomas Lane Butts who highly recommends us hearing John Ed Matheson on 1 May 2011 at FUMC of Arlington, Texas and also at 7:00 pm on the next day Monday. Both of these occasions will be in the church’s sanctuary. Jim Moore will preach on Tuesday (3 May 2011)with outstanding music each evening.

Today, as we walk the via dolorosa with Jesus and weep at the cross, we are kept from despair in the sure knowledge that there is an ending we do not see. When faith in the power and wisdom of God is the theme and mood of our lives, we can live with the pain of the moment.

Several years ago I listened in rapt attention to Dr. Tony Campolo describe a sermon preached by his pastor on Good Friday titled: “It Is Friday, but Sunday’s Coming!” The disciples are lost in pain and shame. Mary is crying. The crowd is jeering: “He saved others, now let him save himself.” The religious authorities are strutting and laughing. The Roman soldiers are shooting dice for his garments. Jesus is dying. What they do not know is that it is just Friday. Just Friday! But, Sunday is coming! Do you understand that? (Thomas Lane Butts)

Apr 21, 2011

Maundy Thursday

Today Thursday, 21 April 2011 is called Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday.

As we move further into the spring we all notice that the days keep getting a little longer. Daylight savings, thanks to Ben Franklin, gives us even more light than we would otherwise have. So thanks to Ben!

Yet, we all know the truth that life is filled with both darkness and light. We have painful, difficult experiences in our lives and we have beautiful, joyful, light-filled days in our lives. Light and dark are useful metaphors for our lives and the meaning therein.

Today, we remember the dark days of Jesus’ life; after he had his last meal with his friends, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and while he was there he was betrayed by one of his friends, taken prisoner by Roman guards, tried by the Roman governor, condemned, beaten, and nailed to a cross where he suffered and died.
Matthew says that the whole world went dark and the sun refused to shine from noon to 3 pm on the Friday afternoon when Jesus died (Mt 27:45). Just as Jesus went through dark days so we all have dark days in our lives when it seems as if the sun refuses to shine.

But the good news is that darkness is always followed by the light. The sunrise of a new day always follows the darkness of the night.

On Easter Sunday when God brought Jesus from death to life it was a sign and a symbol of this truth about life: that good ultimately overcomes evil, that life overcomes death, that light overcomes darkness, that love overcomes hate, that joy overcomes suffering, and that faith overcomes fear. Wake up early and take a look on Easter morning!

Apr 2, 2011

Growing Up in Lent

Aaron “Hotch” Hotchner quoted Madeleine L’Engle in a recent re-run episode of Criminal Minds. Of course this is about as dark as television can get, well except perhaps for South Park. Hotchner quoting L’Engle said:

“When we were children, we used to think that when we grew up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability; to be alive is to be vulnerable.”

As we careen toward Holy Week and as we approach the Fourth Sunday in Lent, we see that Jesus was at his most venerable during this time of the Passion. For example in John, where Jesus is seen as nearly the invincible son of God, Jesus shows vulnerability when Pilate asks him, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you, and power to crucify you?”

Then Jesus answers, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above” (see: John 19:8ff).

Thus although Jesus is God’s only begotten son, as John tells us, Jesus is nonetheless vulnerable just as we are because the incarnation reminds us that Jesus is “fully human—fully divine.” And Jesus is vulnerable because we are vulnerable.

This Lent remember that “to grow up is to accept vulnerability.” May God be with us through this revelation.

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