We Are Easter People: A Living Hope

Now what?

That question seems to always be asked after a major moment, whether it is a big celebration or a highly-anticipated time of life. We sort of look around and ask what is next on our plates or the next thing we need to do.

Of course, the question can elicit a whole slew of responses based upon the context of the question. It could be cleaning up after a party. It could be trying to figure out what to do with our lives after graduation. It might mean trying to save for college after having children. The potential answers are endless.

It is a question many of us may be asking today. Now what? We have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter morning and now we find ourselves one week later wondering what is next. Continue reading “We Are Easter People: A Living Hope”

The Hope of the Resurrection

When I was a journalist and had some responsibilities about what would be in the newspaper the next morning, I would spend the first few moments of my day planning out what stories we would focus on. These stories mainly comprised of games we knew we were covering, planned features, or other news that had developed during the day. Once I had the plan in place, I would start working on getting things ready to meet our deadlines, such as writing stories, editing, and designing pages.

All this would change if a breaking news alert would come across. Now, when we think of breaking news we might think of an interruption to our favorite television show with the ominous theme music network news departments use to lead into the report. We may also think of the instant notifications that might pop up on our smartphones or tablets. When I was a journalist, a breaking news report was a sudden statement that came across The Associated Press’ wires, which would be followed by several other reports in rapid succession.

Any type of  breaking news comes to us suddenly and forces its way into the planned course of the day. These unexpected reports challenge the listener, reader, or journalist, to pay attention to it and to try and make sense of what is being announced. Continue reading “The Hope of the Resurrection”

An Easter Devotion

In the dawn of Sunday morning, the day after the Jewish Sabbath following an eventful Passover celebration, Mary Magdalene and some others decided to go to the tomb. Not just any tomb, but the tomb where Joseph of Armiathea had placed Jesus following his death on the cross Friday afternoon. The Sabbath prevented Mary and her friends from journeying to the tomb, but once the sun was up on Sunday morning they proceeded to go to where Jesus was buried.

Scripture gives us conflicting reports as to why Mary visited the tomb. Some say she was there to finish the burial, while John perhaps focuses on her devotion to Jesus by indicating no other desire other than just to be there. The conflicting reports are simply different perspectives of the same story that focuses on what Mary and her group experienced.

However, once they arrived at the tomb that saw something they did not expect. They noticed that the stone used to seal the tomb was rolled away. This was a troubling sight and the group was fearful that something bad had happened. Back then it was common for grave robbers to come and steal items from graves. Mary’s first inclination is that this is what happened. She doesn’t go near the tomb, but the fact the tomb was unsealed leaves this possibility open to her. Continue reading “An Easter Devotion”

It is Finished

The scene was dark and disturbing. It was a complete contrast from how the week began. A week filled with so much hope, expectation, and promise, ended here on this hillside. A week that began with shouts of “Hosanna!,” would end at a place known as “The Skull.”

There weren’t many who gathered at this hillside where three people, two revolutionaries and the one from Galilee, were crucified. Among the witnesses were the Roman soldiers and religious leaders of the community who wanted to make sure the crucifixion of the one in the middle – Jesus of Nazareth – was carried out. Also there were some of Jesus’ followers, women and men, who risked their lives to be close to Jesus in his final hours. Continue reading “It is Finished”

The Journey to Golgotha

It is almost ironic.

Here we are on this day where the imagery, symbolism, and tradition takes us to the city gates of Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago. It is the day we remember Jesus’ arrival at the start of that fateful Passover week proceeding his betrayal, death, and resurrection. Yet, our passage takes us beyond the gates and to the courtyard of Pilate’s headquarters. On this day when we want to join the crowds in their exaltation and shouting of “Hosanna!,” we find ourselves in the midst of Jesus’ pain and anguish.

It is ironic, however it is also appropriate. As we have seen throughout our current sermon series, Holy Week is about more than palms and celebrations. It is about finding ourselves in the midst of Jesus’ journey and experiencing the stories in a way that opens our eyes to the depths of God’s love and our need of Christ in our lives. Our tendency, though, is to stay among the crowd and shout “Hosanna!,” and rush through the pain of the week and what it teaches.

The reason is that we want this day of Palm Sunday to be both the beginning and ending to the story of Jesus’ narrative in Jerusalem. We want to stay in this place where Jesus is heralded as the beloved Messiah. Doing so gives us the “Hollywood” story and ending that we desperately desire. Where everything is neat, tidy, and comfortable. Yet, life is never a “Hollywood” story and neither is the journey Jesus has been on throughout his ministry. Continue reading “The Journey to Golgotha”