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Friday, April 15, 2011

Episode 48: April 25 - The Night After Easter

'Twas the night after Easter,
      and locked in a room,
The disciples sat wondering
      there in the gloom.

The women had told them
      that Christ had arisen;
But that went against
      all sense and all reason.

If Christ were alive
      and was seen by the women
Why had he not first
      shown himself to the men?

They sat and awaited
      a knock at the door.
If he came, would they know him?
      Would he look like before?

And suppose it were soldiers
      who knocked at the door?
Not knowing the answers,
      they stared at the floor.

But they needn't have wondered
      how they would tell,
If at the door
      came a knock and a yell.

For no knock ever came,
      and no footsteps were heard;
Jesus came to the room
      without speaking a word.

Then what to their wondering eyes
      did appear?
It made them all speechless,
      and filled them with fear!

"Peace be with you,"
      he said with a smile,
Then said it once more
      for it took them awhile
To regain their senses
      and let it sink in
That Christ was alive
      and here with them again!

The reason he came
      was not just to please them;
But to give them his power,
      from fear to release them.

So he wasted no time
      as he stood there aglow,
But gave them a mission,
      and told them to go.

Then he breathed out his breath
      and his Spirit upon them,
And quick as he came,
      he suddenly left them.

Their souls, which were weary,
      were now filled with mirth,
And they had a new message
      to tell all the earth.

Episode 47: April 24 - Prayer To The God We Are Afraid To Know

Eternal Spirit,
far beyond knowing,
yet known to us in our
deepest innermost being:

You who are beyond the outermost reaches
      of the universe,
we reach out to you with words
      of one of the languages of this small planet
      and presume that you understand,
only to discover that you understand
      far more than we can speak
      of the inner longings and desires of our hearts,
      far more than we intended
      of the evil that lurks in the dark corners of our souls.

We ask you to reveal yourself, and you turn
and reveal ourselves to us
      far more than we ever wanted anyone to see
      including you . . . including ourselves.

We seek to master the complexity
      of who you are,
and you come to us in the simplicity
      of one who broke bread, drank wine, and said
      “Love one another like this,” and then
      washed our feet.

We ask to see the full light of your presence;
you wisely shine it on us in small quantities
lest we be so blinded
we lose sight of you altogether.

Eternal Spirit,
far beyond knowing,
continue to make yourself known to us
as much as we can stand.  Amen.

Episode 46: April 23 - He Won't Be There

They’re going to go to the wrong place:
the women tomorrow morning
and the men.
He said he wouldn’t be there:
      “…and on the third day be raised.”                   (Matthew 16:21)

But they go there anyway, innocently enough
on the part of the women.
Then the men:
What’s the matter didn’t you believe the women?
      Or Jesus?
He said he wouldn’t be there.
They said he wasn’t there.
Yet that’s where you go to look for him.

Don’t let me be too critical.
We do the same thing.
All the time.
Always looking for God in the wrong places:
      empty tombs.
      empty forms.
      empty words.
      empty rituals.
Not that they have to be empty, of course.
But if they have become so for you
why keep looking there?

I didn’t find God there last time I looked,
but I’m going to look there again, because
once upon a time I
      --or my grandmother or somebody--
found God there
so that must be the place to look.

“He is not here, he has risen.”    (Luke 24:5)
Then where will I find him?
In unexpected places.
Look for God where you wouldn’t expect
to find God.
Be ready to be surprised by God.

Consider the women (as told by Matthew)
Surprised by the empty tomb.
Surprised by the messenger.
Surprised by the Risen Christ himself.
Holy surprises!
Popping up at every turn!
Where next?

Yes, that’s it.  Where next?
In my life?  In your life?
In that stranger walking toward you?

It’s going to be very tempting tomorrow
to go look in the empty tomb.
Don’t be surprised if he’s not there.
But stay alert, because
if he’s not there,
who knows where he might pop up next?

Episode 45: April 22 - Not If God Can Stop You

Reading a book
one line jumped out:
"God will not let us go to hell in peace."                     (Distant Fire, p. 9)
I knew it!
That fits!
That sounds like God!

Two other pictures.
One:  God as judge--
God sends us to hell.
that doesn't fit...
a house divided..

Two:  God as indifferent--
God allows us to go to hell.
We choose our own fate.
That doesn't sound like God.

Another view:
There is no hell.
But we know better,
don't we.

We keep trying to go there.
And God keeps trying to stop us.
God doesn't ignore us.
God will not leave us alone.
God will not let us enjoy our sin.
God keeps stirring our conscience,
disturbing our peace.

If you're going to go to hell,
you'll have to fight God
all the way
to get there.

"God will not let us go to hell in peace."

Episode 44: April 21 - It Wasn't a Denial

have we been wrong about you?
We have blamed you for
when all the time you were
“I do not know the man.”

I wanted to know.
Later I would.
But then
I wanted him to be
what I wanted him to be.
And I did not know the man.

I tried to know.
“So I should forgive up to seven times?”
“Show me how to walk on the water.”
"Explain this parable to us."
He replied
"Are you also still without understanding?”

I tried to understand.
First, "You will never wash my feet."
Then, "also my hands and my head!"
“Later you will understand,” he said.
I did not know the man.

I thought I knew.
“Who do you think I am,” he asked.
“You are the Christ,
the Son of the Living God.”
He blessed me for that, though
I did not know what I was saying.

 “I am going to Jerusalem where
I will be put to death.”
“Never,” I said,
“That will not happen.”
“Get behind me,” he said.
I did not know the man.

Up on the mountain:
magnificent manifestation.
“Let me build three shrines,” I said.
I did not know the man.

They came to arrest him.
I pulled a sword.
“Put it away,” he said.
I did not know the man.

I stood by the fire.
They asked if I knew him.
I moved away.
“Surely you knew him.”
The cock crowed, and I wept
I did not know the man.

Episode 43: April 20 - Blood On My Hands

Oops, the communion juice got on my fingers.
I have “blood” on my hands—the blood of Jesus.
Oh, don’t we all!

Pilate didn’t want the blood of Jesus on his hands:
Pilate … took some water and washed his hands, saying,
"I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves."
(Matthew 27:24)
Someone incited the crowds:
"His blood be on us and on our children!"               (Matthew 27:25)
Well it is.  Believe me, it is.  It’s on all our hands.
No single group.
Want it or not, his blood is on us.
"I am innocent of this man's blood.”
No you’re not.  You are one of us.
We all are children of the crucifiers.
“There is no one who is righteous, not even one.”
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
(Romans 3:10, 23)
It is for us that he died.
It is because of us that he had to die.

We thought it was him.
We thought there was something wrong with him.
He was the one being struck down by God.
What did he do that was so terrible?
Nothing.  We are the ones.

Episode 42: April 19 - Answering Pilate's Question

“What is truth?”
That’s a good question,
are still trying to answer.

Jesus said,
“I am the truth”
the truth?
A living, breathing, moving,
divine/human being?
“I am the truth?”

No wonder people
still prefer

gave us truth:
immutable, unchangeable, absolute
carved in stone

not slippery truth.
That’s truth
you can pin down.
We like that.

Of course,
we were able
to pin Jesus down.
Nailed him down
We don’t like truth
that moves.

Episode 41: April 18 - Holy Week

This is it.  The final week.
Is this where we get all our questions answered?
Or all our answers questioned?

There is a story about a psychologist
who had seven theories on child-raising
and no children.
Some years later he had seven children
and no theories.
That’s what having children does to you.

When I was young
I thought I had all the answers to life.
Now, some years later
I’m not even sure I know
what all the questions are.
That’s what life does to you.

Is this the end
or the beginning?
Or neither?
Maybe there is no beginning or ending.

Palm Sunday looked like a great new beginning.
Good Friday looked like the final end.
In fact, neither was either.
All their answers were thrown into question.
That’s what Jesus does to you.

We want endings and beginnings, but maybe
real life is lived always in the middle.
That’s what it feels like.
No matter what begins.  No matter what ends.
I’m always right in the middle of everything.

That doesn’t mean I still wouldn’t
like to have some answers.