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Archive for the ‘Easter’ Category


Acts 2:42-47: Community II – Words and Gestures

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Over a year ago, we looked at this citation during Advent and at that time we remembered that our own actions in community represent our relationship with God.  I always try to remember that my actions incarnate my belief in God.  My words and gestures toward my fellow humans are my expression, my composition, my painting, my metaphor of God. 

God wishes to live in community with us.  God desires intimate union with us.  God wishes to give us the goodness our hearts desire.  Today’s citation describes people living in the way God wishes for us, living as we all might in the here and now and as we all will in the next life: in true community, providing a shelter from life’s storms, coming together in a common belief, sharing goods, worshiping God, healing one another, bringing other believers into the fold through the telling of the good news of redemption.

If this is so . . . then we might look around us at the oasis we create with our own living.  Do we provide shelter to others?  Do we bring comfort where we can?  Do we share what we have?  Do we worship God together?  Do we heal one another’s wounds?  Do we tell the good news of our rescue to others?

Do we bring the hope of Christ to the world?  Do we live our faith in the Father?  Do we provide a sheltering place where the Holy Spirit might rest with us to heal our broken-hearted and our wounded?

Oasis in Libya

What sort of oasis do we prepare together?  Do we put aside all that divides?  Do we ask forgiveness where needed?  Do we forgive fully?  Do we remain in Christ in all of our actions?  Do we love justly?  Do we hope outrageously?  Do we unclog the stagnant spring in the heart of the oasis to allow the fresh, new Easter water to flow?

Where do we pitch our tents this Easter season?  Do we choose to remain in the stale backwater of old haunts and addictive habits, or do we allow ourselves to be transformed by Christ’s redemptive suffering in order to bring a newness to our own community . . . our own oasis?

And once we experience this gift of Easter life, what do we do with it?  Do we open our heart’s doors to the others whom God sends our way?

And every day the Lord added to our number those who were being saved.  Amen.

Tomorrow, the Trinity as oasis.

Adapted from a reflection on written on April 9, 2009.

 

 

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Acts 2: Raising His Voice

Monday, May 1, 2017

peter-preaching-masolino

Tommaso Masolino da Panicale: Peter Preaching

If we want to have more context around Peter’s first sermon, we will want to begin our Noontime reading at verse 1 of Chapter 2, Acts. With the opening words of this story, the miracle of Pentecost opens before us like the beginning scene of a film. A rushing, violent wind. Startled disciples speaking languages they cannot comprehend. We might at first doubt the truth of this scene but then while some bystanders marvel, others proclaim, “They are filled with new wine”.

We register our own viewpoint as we take this story in. Are these disciples of Jesus actually filled by the Spirit, or are we watching drunken men stagger into the street? We wonder how we would have viewed this scene had we been present so today we take the opportunity to reflect on Peter’s words and courage. And we imagine that we are truly there.

Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd.

We hear Peter’s crisp words describe the story of Jesus’ life, passion, and death. We hear the miracle of resurrection and the coming of the Messiah as predicted by David. How does the crowd respond?

Luke describes their response simply: They were cut to the heart . . . Those who welcomed Peter’s message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

As we reflect on this story, we also consider our own reaction to Peter’s first sermon, and we ask ourselves: Do we remain faithful to The Way that Christ teaches us? How do we witness to this story of hope and love? And do we raise our own voices with Peter so that a world waiting for salvation might hear this good news?

The verses cited above are from THE NRSV. To compare these words with those in other translations, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to witness Peter’s courage as he raises his voice to deliver his message of a Living Hope.

Tomorrow, Peter’s second sermon following Pentecost.

 

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1 Peter 1:3-9: A Living Hope

Third Sunday of Easter, April 30, 2017

Peter Denies Christ
John 18

As we enter into the third week of Eastertide, we look to Peter, Jesus’ companion who denied knowing him (John 18); and who later pledged to the resurrected Christ that he would feed and love his sheep (John 21). We are those sheep and today we listen to Peter’s words.

What a God we have! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! 

As we move through our days and nights, this is good news. In our typically linear way of thinking, the past, present and future are separate entities that we cannot manipulate; yet Peter tells us that Jesus has changed the natural order of time. Past, present and future fuse into an eternal timelessness, an infinite oneness, an unending union. And we are invited to participate in this union.

The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime.

As we look at our lives and our surrounding circumstances, these are joyful words. In our consumption and status driven world, the powerful hold sway over the poor, sickness opposes good health, and death overcomes life; yet Peter reminds us of the many miracles that erase the demarcation between wholeness and weakness.

You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.

James Tissot: Feed My Lambs
John 21

As we anticipate the fulfillment of God’s promise, the serenity of Jesus’ Good News, and perfect union with and in the healing of the Spirit, we find Peter’s words reassuring. In the rush of our days, we pause to reflect on the healing power of Peter’s testimony. From one who once renounced the Living God, we hear the miracle of his conversion. And we turn from our anxieties and fears to the assurance of this Living Hope.

The verses cited above are from THE MESSAGE. To compare these words with those in other translations, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore Peter’s message of A Living Hope to us.

Tomorrow, the first of Peter’s sermons following Pentecost.

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Mark 16:9-15: The Entire Creation

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Imre Moroc: Jesus Appears to the Disciples after Resurrection

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day seven, Easter Saturday, we hear Mark’s accounting of the doubt that seized Jesus’ followers; and we have the opportunity to explore our own willingness to share Jesus’ story with the entire creation.

Today’s verses are from the NSRV translation, but we may want to choose another version that speaks to us most clearly by using the scripture link and drop-down menus. If we want to hear an audio version of today’s verses, we visit the USCCB site.

 But when the disciples heard that Jesus was alive and had been seen by Mary Magdalene, they would not believe it.

We hear the good news that Jesus assures us that we are his adopted sisters and brothers . . . but we continue to believe in status rather than love.

And the Emmaus disciples went back and told the rest of the disciples, but they did not believe them.

We hear the good news that Jesus invites us to rejoice in his return . . . but we continue to believe in power rather than hope.

Later Jesus appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.

We hear the good news that Jesus assures us of eternal peace . . . but we continue to doubt.

And Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news. to the whole creation”.

We hear the good news that Jesus assures us of eternal peace . . . and we determine to share this story with the whole creation.

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John 21:1-14: Throwing Our Nets Yet Again

Friday, April 28, 2017jesus-beach

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day six, Easter Friday, we hear John’s familiar story of Jesus appearing at the Sea of Galilee. The details in the story open doors of Easter joy and hope for us.

First, we choose a translation that speaks to us most clearly. Then we reflect. If we want to hear an audio version of today’s verses, visit the USCCB site. We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

In the MESSAGE translation, we see again that the disciples do not recognize Jesus when they first see him. Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him.

We reflect on the number of times Christ has stood before us, and our eyes have not seen. The unwanted visitor. The neighbor who challenges us. The colleague who asks a question we do not want to answer.

Jesus asks the disciples to expect something new when he asks them to do something they have been doing for hours. Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.

We reflect on the number of times Christ has asked us to once more open ourselves to optimism when we have already given up on hope. The task we have already completed. The cause we believe to be dead. The optimism we see as pointless.

Jesus prepares a meal for his friends, and then he says, “Breakfast is ready.” Not one of the disciples dared ask, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Master.

We reflect on the number of times Christ has waited on us, served us, healed us and loved us. We recall the worries and anxieties that too often govern us. We remember the doubts and fears that too frequently control us. We remember the Easter promise of healing and transformation. And we look toward the end of John’s Gospel when he tells us, There are so many other things Jesus did. If they were all written down, each of them, one by one, I can’t imagine a world big enough to hold such a library of books. (John 21:25)

And we ask ourselves . . . can we recognize the Christ moments in our lives? Are we willing to muster the courage to throw our nets another time where we have already thrown them endlessly? Are we prepared to welcome the joy and peace of Easter? And are we willing to witness to these life-giving encounters with Christ so that others might live and believe?

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Luke 24:36-48: Fulfilled

Thursday, April 27, 2017

tissot-the-communion-of-the-apostles-751x523

James Tissot: The Communion of the Apostles

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day five, Easter Thursday, we hear Luke’s account of what takes place when the Emmaus disciples return to Jerusalem. Once again, when we reflect on a few details, the story becomes vital to our understanding the mystery and miracle of Easter.

First, we choose a translation that speaks to us most clearly. Then we reflect. If we want to hear an audio version of today’s verses, visit the USCCB site. We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

In the MESSAGE translation, Cleopas and his companion went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.

Can we imagine ourselves listening to our colleagues as they tell us that they have witnessed a miracle? Can we envision our conversation with family and friends as we hear about their incredible interaction with the risen Christ?

While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death.

Can we predict our reaction to the appearance of Christ among us? What do we say when we share a meal with him? Is our overwhelming emotion fear? Do suspicion and doubt take over? Do anxiety and disbelief crowd our hearts? And then we hear Jesus’ words.

“Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn’t have muscle and bone like this.” 

How do we reply?

They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.

We are startled to hear the Teacher ask: “Do you have any food here?” They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.

Duccio di Buoninsegna: Christ Appears to the Disciples at the Table

If we persist in a thick-headed and slow-hearted reaction, we look for ways to unravel the fraud we suspect. If we are reluctant and discouraged, we listen and watch warily, looking for reasons to doubt. If we remain hopeful and determined, we open our minds and hearts as we prepare to love and be loved. We listen to Christ’s words. We accept the joyful newness that asks to change our thinking.

Jesus says,Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled. You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses”.

We cannot do this, we are thinking. We do not have the courage or the tools. This newness is all too new, and too incredible for belief. Until Christ tells us . . . “What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high”.

Christ predicts the arrival and in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Christ offers a gift too amazing to believe. Christ proposes a life too wonderful, too mystifying, too marvelous to believe. And yet . . .

Christ stands in the midst of us, sharing our meals, attending to our fears and doubts. Christ has fulfilled the promise of redemption made by the Living God for millennia. The choice is ours to make. Do we turn inward in our doubt? Or do we open in newness to accept the fulfillment of the promise we are offered?

For other posts on the story of Emmaus, enter the word into the blog search bar and explore.

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Luke 24:13-35: Muscle and Bone

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Duccio di Buoninsegna: On the Road to Emmaus

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day four, Easter Wednesday, we again hear Luke’s story of the road to Emmaus. Today we look again at a few details that bring this story into the present. First, we choose a translation that speaks to us most clearly. Then we reflect. If we want to hear an audio version of today’s verses, visit the USCCB site. We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

In the MESSAGE translation, the story of Cleopas and his companion, and their astounding encounter with the risen Christ, carries the subtitle A Ghost Doesn’t Have Muscle and Bone. We want to remember this today as we face a world that is eager to distract us for the message we need to hear.

They were deep in conversation, going over all these things that had happened.

We can imagine ourselves moving through our day, walking side-by-side with friends and family, hashing out surprising events that have stunned our community. Too often we are so fully involved in our own story, we do not notice the stories of others.

They were not able to recognize who [Jesus] was.

We can see ourselves as lovers of Christ and believers in his promise; yet we are not always able to see the truth that stands before us.

Then he said to them, “So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?” 

We are thick-headed and slow-hearted, reluctant and discouraged; yet we remain hopeful and determined, prepared to be loved.

He acted as if he were going on but they pressed him: “Stay and have supper with us. It’s nearly evening; the day is done.” 

Duccio: Emmaus Detail

We are ready for the newness despite the lateness of the hour. We invite the prophets among us to share their experience of God. We remain open to the Holy Spirit and the gift of new and intense joy.

And here is what happened: He sat down at the table with them. Taking the bread, he blessed and broke and gave it to them. At that moment, open-eyed, wide-eyed, they recognized him.

This is how we must go into the world each day, open-eyed and wide-eyed. We must be willing to be amazed. We must be open to the promise. We must be ready to meet the Christ when we are downcast and least expecting to believe that this fact is true . . . A Ghost Doesn’t Have Muscle and Bone.

For other posts on the story of Emmaus, enter the word into the blog search bar and explore.

 

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John 20:11-18: Turning Again

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

James Tissot: Mary Magdalene and the Holy Women at the Tomb

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day three, Easter Tuesday, we heard John’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb. Today we focus on a few details that bring this story alive. First, we chose a translation that speaks to us most clearly, and then we reflect. Today’s verses are from the USCCB site. (This link also contains an audio version.) We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been.

When harsh realities challenge our beliefs and foundation, we mourn our loss, question all that we thought certain, and doubt the facts before us. Do we also look for the angels who move with us through our days? Do we offer our suffering as a sign of our trust in God? Do we fall back on the familiar or move forward in hope?

[Mary] turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.

Anger and fear, confidence and mercy. In times of deep stress, the primal parts of our brain take over and we instinctively collapse into familiar patterns of flight and denial, aggression and accusation. Might we practice the art of relying on the positive influences in our lives? When we feel panic and worry taking over, might we remind ourselves to look for Jesus who stands before us . . . even when we do not recognize him?

She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.

James Tissot: The Women at Jesus’ Tomb

Our pastor last week, in his morning homily, asked a question we may have been asking ourselves when we look at the detail John provides us. If Mary has already turned away from the empty tomb to look at the man she thinks is the gardener, why does she turn again? And how? When we reflect on these verses, we begin to understand that the second turning is toward a newness in perspective. Mary allows herself to see that the gardener is, in fact, Jesus. Might we follow her example to open our eyes and ears in a new way? Might we have full confidence in the promise of the Christ?

Today we spend time with John’s story of the conversion of Mary at the tomb, and all that followed in the baffling commotion of distrust touched with intense conviction and enduring love. As we read this account today, let us see if we are able to move beyond our anxieties for the world, with the joyful turning of Mary Magdalene.

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Matthew 28:8-15: Fearful Yet Overjoyed

Monday, April 24, 2017

William-Adolphe Bouguereau: Holy Women at the Tomb

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day two, Easter Monday, we heard Matthew’s account of the discovery of the empty tomb. Today we focus on a few details that bring this story alive. First, we choose a translation that speaks to us most clearly, and then we reflect. Today’s verses are from the USCCB site. (This link also contains an audio version.) We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed . . .

Who among us has not felt this clash of emotions at cataclysmic times in our lives? We are full of joyful anticipation, and at the same time a sense of foreboding. Newness and change confront us, offering both hope and anxiety. Jesus has died, is lying in the tomb and yet his body is not there. Matthew records other details that we do well to spend time with today.

Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Who among us does not need these reassuring words when we find ourselves in dark days? Everyone we have trusted in the past has fallen away in this new present. Every sturdy stone we use to cross the river of the unknown has disappeared. Jesus seems to be present to us, yet is he? Why does he ask us to meet him in Galilee? Why does he not repair all that wounds us here and now? Can we continue to believe all of his promises if we are not physically with him? Matthew gives us another detail to ponder as we reflect on the future that lies ahead.

“And if this [bribe] gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”

Mikołaj Haberschrack: The Three Marys at the Tomb

Who among us has not come up against deceit among families, friends and colleagues? Trust seems a rare quality. Truth is warping into alternative realities. Honesty is now self-serving and the common good suffers. Generosity gives way to narcissism. Fidelity is fleeting. Hope is inane. Love insincere. And yet . . .

As we consider the accounting that Matthew gives us of Easter morning at the tomb, we now have another newness we had not anticipated, a newness born out of joyful apprehension, a newness rising from the ashes of old fears and doubts, a newness promised by the one who keeps all promises.

Today we spend time with Matthew’s story of the women at the tomb, and all that followed in the confusing chaos of suspicion threaded through with deep trust and abiding love. As we read this account today, let us see if we are able to move beyond our fears for the world, with the joyful hope of these women.

For an interesting look at the identity of the women at the tomb, visit: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/how-many-women-visited-the-tomb-of-jesus/

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