Before we got to Easter, we needed to linger:
· In the vulnerability of the basin and towel
· At the remembrance and promise of the table
· In the struggle and betrayal of the garden
· In the shadows and shouts of injustice
· At the bloody beautiful cross
· In the silence of linen and spices and death
For without these, the empty tomb is just an empty tomb.
And then, Easter morning in the garden…sadness turned upside down. A sense of confusion. What just happened here? Where is he? WHOA…surprise of surprises; unexpected thrills. Some residual questions. Perhaps even fear, yes, fear. All of the emotions available to human beings…my, oh, my.
The Easter feeling does not end. It signals a new beginning, of nature, of spring, and brand new life and friendship, peace and giving. The spirit of Easter is all about hope, love and joyful living.
Easter is not about a people,
but it is about all people,
that God’s love and salvation are for all
who confess with voices, hearts and lives
that the tomb is empty because Jesus has risen
so that lives might be reborn
and that the name of Jesus
might be glorified
now and for all eternity.
He is risen. Alleluia!
Spread the good news to everyone, everywhere!
P.S. Dear Easter Bunny, this year could you please fill our eggs with health and happiness and deliver them to everyone that we love? Thank you.
Miracles are a double-edged sword.
March 31 – April 6, 2019
Ah, yes…desperate times call for desperate measures. Almost no one paid him any attention. He had been blind for as long as anyone could remember. And he had been in the same place, on the road outside of Jericho, sitting, waiting, hoping someone would see him beg and would be moved with pity or guilt to toss a few pennies his way. Motive didn’t matter, money was money, and in his case, quite literally, beggars could not be choosers.
No one puts “Blind Beggar” on their list of career choices. Outside of being a leper, it was the lowest rank in Jewish society. The blind had to beg unless they had a family who could care for them. This man apparently had no one, so day after day he sat there, eating the dust kicked up by the passing parade of people and animals in a hurry to get to Jericho to do business.
One day Jesus showed up, and the man’s life changed forever. Give Bartimaeus the credit he deserves. When he heard Jesus was passing by, he saw his chance and cried out for mercy. He even called him by his title, “Son of David.”
Here’s the thing: he admitted his need. He cried out for help. He would not be deterred by those who tried to shush him. He knew what he wanted Jesus to do for him. He asked for what he needed. He received his miracle. He immediately began to follow Jesus. Wow! What a mouthful!
For some time Jesus dealt with the blindness of his disciples. They thought they knew him better than they did. Not necessarily. But here is a poor blind beggar who sees better than they do. Having received his miracle, he follows Jesus down the road, not knowing it would lead to a Roman cross.
Bartimaeus stands for all of us. Whether we know it or not, we are hopeless and helpless until Jesus passes by. We’re getting close now. The Garden of Gethsemene is just up ahead. Have you met Jesus? Do you know him? And the greatest question of all: Will you follow him wherever he goes? Bartimaeus couldn’t have known what was ahead, but he knew enough to follow the one who had given sight to his blind eyes. Follow Jesus!
Lent recalls times of wilderness and wandering, from newly freed Hebrew slaves in exile to Jesus’ temptations in the desert. God has always called people out of their safe, walled cities into uncomfortable places, revealing paths they never would have chosen on their own.
The defining journey of biblical faith begins in the departure of Abraham and Sarah back in the book of Genesis. They were dispatched by God to leave their safe place, to go to a new land yet to be given, to get a new name, to be blessed by God, and to be a blessing to others around them. They went! And their family, generation after generation, has gone. And we, finally in their wake, must travel beyond safe places to the gifted end that God intends, hopefully to be blessed and to be a blessing on the way. On the way…perhaps to the neighborhood of shared resources, of inclusive politics, of random acts of hospitality and intentional acts of advocacy and justice, of fearless neighborliness that is not propelled by greed or anxiety or self-preoccupation. Just reaching out to others with open hands.
Psalm 121:1-2 tells us this:
“I lift my eyes to the hills, from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” This is designed exactly for travelers who face a demanding, risky journey. It is an assurance as well as an affirmation that the journey we now undertake is not by ourselves alone. We are surrounded on the way by the God of all trust, the God who kept Abraham and Sarah safe, the one who walked all the way to Jerusalem with Jesus, all the way to Friday and on through Sunday.
We are on this Lenten journey accompanied by the remarkable assurance that the God who summons us is the God who goes along with us. In myth, literature and sacred traditions, the call to journey comes at an important turning point in life. When the hero answers the call, huge changes are set in motion. On Ash Wednesday, we heard the call: Now is the day of salvation!
So, try this: put your whole heart in, take your whole heart out, put your whole heart in and shake it all about. You are at a turning point: metanoia (conversion).
What will your huge change entail? Make the journey. Carry on!