Showing posts from April, 2012


Acts 4:1-22 A quick review :  John and Peter were going up to the temple to pray (a nod to the truth that the earliest Christians saw themselves as fully and faithfully Jewish).  They were about to pass through the Beautiful Gate (which is not so much a gate we can pinpoint with archeological accuracy today, but a foreshadowing of what is about to happen there).  They saw this man who was lame from birth being carried in by his friends (see Mark 2:1-12 to see a story from the life of Jesus that this passage echoes). After the man was healed, Peter, John, and this man danced into church created quite a commotion because people were amazed that the man who was paralyzed from birth is now not only walking but leaping all around them. Creating a scene in church...not something we've ever gotten used to.   So in this passage the religious authorities want to keep things under control... something we are still used to.  They question Peter and John about why they

I am the church...You are the church

Hands down my favorite comic growing up was Calvin and Hobbs . For those who have never basked in the genius of this comic, it is about an eight year old precocious boy, Calvin, and his stuffed tiger friend, Hobbs. Hobbs comes to life only when Calvin is around by himself. One of the strips that is etched in my memory is our hero Calvin calling out from the kitchen to his mother laying down on the couch in the living room; asking if he can have a snack. His mom says “Sure.” Calvin begins to reach for the cookie jar in the second frame. When his mom calls out from the couch, “There are apples in the refrigerator.” Calvin, now holding a cookie, replies, “It’s amazing that even though we are speaking English, we are not talking the same language.” Words have that kind of power. I could say the word “car” and for some of you the word would conjure images of the lime green station wagon with the pleather seats that were blazing hot in the summer and colder than ice in

Speaking in Tongues

One of the most well-known stories in the book of Acts is from the second chapter on Pentecost. Usually, in the church we celebrate Pentecost fifty days after Easter and we say that it is the 'birthday of the church.' We read from the book of Acts 2 about how the Holy Spirit stirred and swirled around the disciples in a room, they all spoke in tongues, but could understand each other. This is usually the ONLY time we talk about the Holy Spirit. We might make references to how Acts 2 is like Genesis 1, where God's spirit surfed over creation or Genesis 11 how Pentecost is a reversal of the Tower of Babel. But, we really don't know what to do with this narrative. In the mainline church, we don't do much talking in tongues. It is appropriate to say that while some Pentecostal church see this as talking in a language unintelligible to most; what actually happens in Acts 2 is that the disciples and others are talking in known languages. Moreover, Pentecost isn&

Resurrection Community

On Easter Sunday, I offered the image of the church being a "Resurrection Community." I long for the church to be a place where the words, "Christ is risen" means something to us today and makes a difference today. "Christ is Risen" is spoken in the present tense. We don't say "Christ was raised" in the past tense. Or "Two thousand years ago, something happened and some people might have seen something, but to be perfectly honest, we really are not sure." While I appreciate that might be closer to the truth of how some people in our churches feel, the reality is that loooooong sentence really doesn't roll off the tongue. That looooooong sentence doesn't give me goosebumps as when I shout out, "Christ is risen!" In some ways, I don't think Easter is a propositional theory for us to understand. Easter, like the cross, is meant to be experienced, not explained. And we offer people a profound experience o

Holy Week part 6

Since today is Holy Friday, I invite you to center yourself in silence. Standing in the shadow of the cross there is very little I can say. Standing in the shadow of the cross reminds me of my brokenness. Standing in the shadow of the cross challenges my complacency. Standing in the shadow of the cross challenges my need for competency and failure avoidance. Standing in the shadow of the cross moves me to prayer, which is where I invite us all to go often today. Prayer: Holy God on this day that is deeper than words, that can never be fully understood or explained, we open our whole lives to You. We pray that You would grant us courage to experience Holy Friday with all its pain and truth. We pray that You would grant us courage to see the brokenness still within and around us. We pray that You would stay close by when all we can offer are sighs deeper than words. Surround us, sustains us and keep us as gather around a cross that proclaims Your love and Your v

Holy Week, Part 6

Click here to read Mark 15:38-47 I wanted to back up and retrace a bit of the passage from yesterday. There were two points about the events right after Jesus died for us to consider. The first is that the temple curtain is torn from top to bottom. In Jesus day, there was a Holy City: Jerusalem. And there was a holy site: the temple. And then there was the Holy of Holies, which like in the Wizard of Oz , was hid behind a curtain. Only certain people were allowed into the Holy of Holies. If you look back at Mark 1:9-11 , Jesus’ baptism, you will see a foreshadowing of the temple curtain being torn. As Jesus is coming up out of the water, cradled in John the Baptizer’s arms the heavens are torn open . Back in January when we centered ourselves in church on this passage, we talked about how that was an image that God is on the loose in our lives, so too here. God is on the loose as the temple curtain which separated where God resided from where the Pe

Holy Week part 5

Click here to read Mark 15:29-39 Some reading this devotional may have experienced a Holy Friday service that went from noon to 3 pm based on this detail from Mark’s gospel. Often during those services the passages of scripture we’ve been considering for the last several days were slowly read, several choir anthems would be offered and several sermons from various clergy in the community would be preached. It was a time to center ourselves in real and raw emotions of the cross. To hear Jesus exclaim, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” is still echoed in the shorter question many have asked: “Why me?” Why does my car break down when I am running late to a job interview? Why do my kids act out when everyone else’s kids are perfect angels? Why do I have to work with that person? Why did I get that news from the doctor? “Why?” is one of the most heartfelt, honest questions we can ask. “Why me?” is also one of the most difficult questions to answer. Par