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Rejoice!

Today is the Feast of the Resurrection.  Today we celebrate the victory of hope over despair, light over darkness, and life over death.  Rejoice!  And, like Mary Magadelene, share the good news.  Jesus Christ is Risen Today!
John 20.1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying …

Not Yet

For the first time this Lent, I dreamed off coffee last night.  I have a clear memory of a cup of hot, black java in a classic white diner mug.  As many of you know, I give up coffee during this season and looking forward to my first cup tomorrow.  I've had plenty of chances to fall off this Lenten wagon, but have resisted all of them.  But last night was the only instance in this Lent that coffee made an appearance in my dreams.  Curse you REM activity!
I wonder.  Was this what it was like for Judas?  A series of small temptations, followed by one irresistible wave in the form of men bearing thirty pieces of silver?  I prefer to think Judas was slowly seduced to evil rather than a cartoon-like figure of total evil.  The former seems more realistic to me -- and is a more vivid cautionary character.  Be alert, be careful, be alert right until the end.  Which is the beginning.
With some prayer, some thoughtfulness, and the aid of the Holy Spirit, I think I can make it …

Toohu vi Vohu

"Toohu vi Vohu" is the Hebrew description in Genesis 1 for the formless waste that existed before Creation.  Scholars have been frustrated by the term; there is no exact translation for the phrase.  But they and we know what it means, know that God brought order and life and beauty in its stead.  On this Good Friday, it seems as that nameless void has returned, when goodness has been laid low, when life itself has been brought low.  On this day, Jesus was killed by men who knew not what he was about, abandoned by others to consumed by fear.  On this day, hope had no purchase.
We are able to remember this day for we know what is coming in its wake: the joy, the miracle, the gift of Easter.  But imagine being one of those who gathered at the foot of the cross to see Jesus being mocked, to see him die - and not know that he would be resurrected.  The finality, the gut-wrenching loss is unimaginable.  But on this day, we should try to envision it, for this is what …

Serving Others

Tonight the lectionary Gospel is drawn from John.  It tells the story of the Last Supper and unlike the Synoptics, communion is not the center of the story.  Rather, there is a story about foot washing.  Jesus tended to the feet of his followers and Peter, God bless him, freaked out.  "You can't do this!" he cried.  Jesus told him he must and that if the disciples were truly his followers, they would do likewise.  Peter then proceeds to go overboard in changing his mind and says that foot washing isn't enough; he wants to bathe the entire body.  He misses the point, and so, too often, do we.
We don't wear sandals or walk dusty roads.   The whole idea of foot washing is alien and seems a little weird.  Some churches will perform ritual foot washings tonight and some parishioners will be freaked out.  Frankly, there's something personal about our feet and many don't like bearing them to others.  Okay.  But rather than focus on an odd and ancie…

Now What?

Now that a little time has passed since the fire that raged through Notre Dame, questions are being asked: how did this happen? What choices were made that might have been made differently? Who will pay for the repairs? How long will it take?  These are all reasonable questions but they should give us pause.
Emmanuel Macron, for example, has said he wants the restoration completed within five years.  Why? Historic preservationists and experts in conservation are suggesting the work will take from 10 to 15 years.  But the Paris Olympics are in 2024 - five years hence.  So the rebuilding of a church is being timed to meet the needs of an overblown sporting event.
Why have so many companies and rich people reached into their pockets to restore the cathedral?  We don't know their motivations but some are complaining they might enjoy tax breaks from doing so (the Pinnault family has already declined any such benefits).  These critics want the money to go elsewhere.  So the…

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

Thus go the glories of this world.  Like millions around the world yesterday, I saw pictures and watched video of Notre Dame burning.  Most poignant to me was seeing the flaming spire of the great cathedral pitch over, then collapse.  The loss is huge, and already commentary about how this is symbolic of something larger, something disturbing are circulating.  But a day later we know that the fire, as awful as it was, was not as bad as it could have been.  The bell towers and shell of the cathedral remain.  So does the great rose window, the organ, the crown of thorns and other relics.  Much has been lost, but much remains.
I've had the privilege of visiting Notre Dame.  What stuck with me was how big and how empty the place was.  It was a monument to a previous age, and it's rather sad that it's only when a church is consumed by fire that people notice it.  How many will go to services this week?  How many will reflect on the faith that was discovered or st…

What Day Is It?

Today is Tax Day.  And Patriots Day (at least in New England).  It's also the Monday of Holy Week.  Which comes to mind for you first?  Even though I've already filed my taxes, it's still on my mind.  Having long lived in New England, I like  the idea of celebrating The Battle of Lexington and Concord.  But, as a minister, and I hope as a Christian, my first thought turns to this being the Monday of Holy Week.  After the big hoo-ha surrounding Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a weird quiet has descended.  Just like people 2,000 years ago, after the excitement of his arrival, we want to know what happens next.  We have a couple of days to think, to pray, to ready ourselves.  For we know what comes next, and thought it's necessary, it isn't pretty: the Passion.