Tag Archives: easter

RISE (a narrative sermon on Jesus’s Resurrection)

On a Sunday morning just like this – in fact, it was this week, approximately 1990 years ago – a small group of men sat quietly on chairs and benches scattered around a large upstairs room. Their faces were dark, their clothing disheveled, and most looked like they had not slept for days. The few who tried to speak eventually fell silent, their words swallowed up in the gloom.

Just a week ago, things were completely different. Their eyes danced and their faces were bright. There was a constant din, and the clamor was unmistakably joyous. People were saying things like, “This is it.” At last!” “It will just be a few days now.”

They were happy, giddy even. And Jesus—they had never seen him like this – was magisterial, kingly, intimidating. Determination was written all over his face. They had entered the city at the head of a parade, with Jesus riding on a donkey’s colt. That was no accident! He had borrowed the colt to fulfill Zechariah’s prophecy: “See, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” Jesus was announcing his intentions to rule God’s people. Continue reading

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First Stone in an Avalanche

In the four Gospel accounts of the life and death of Jesus – this surprised me when I first realized it and it surprises me still – no one ever uses the word “resurrection” to describe Jesus’s return from death, neither the Gospel writers nor the people whose conversations they reported. They talk about how Jesus rose from the dead, but they never use the one word you would expect them to use: “resurrection.” It’s almost as if they were avoiding it.

That ought to raise a question in our minds: Why didn’t they use the word “resurrection?” The answer, I think, comes in two parts, the first of which is very straightforward: The Gospel writers did not use the word “resurrection” because the men and women whose story they were telling didn’t use the word. The fact that the writers refrained from using what is arguably the most important word in the vocabulary of the early church speaks volumes about their intention to faithfully recount what had happened. Continue reading

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Holy Saturday: Mary Magdalene’s Story (Part 1)

Here’s how Mary Magdalene might have told her story.

When they killed him, it was like they killed me too – the me I was becoming; the hopeful, happy me. The me that people liked, that had friends. Before Jesus, life was a kind of blur. I just moved from thing to thing, from person to person, but nobody really cared about me and, to be honest, I don’t think I really cared about anybody – including myself. My life was a nightmare.

Then I met Jesus and everything changed. It’s like I woke up. For the first time since I was a little girl, somebody really cared about me. And it wasn’t just Jesus; his friends cared about me too. They became my friends. They took me in, made me one of them. They talked to me, listened to me, laughed with me, sometimes laughed at me—but I didn’t mind because they really liked me. I don’t know how to say it… For the first time I could remember, it wasn’t just me. It was us. I was saying things like, “We should go to the market. We should bake some bread. It felt so good to say “We.”

But we were us only because of him. We all knew it. He was the only thing that held us together. He was our heart. One day I said to Mary and Salome, “We would never have become friends if it wasn’t for him.” Continue reading

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More Than Colored Eggs and Chocolate Bunnies

The Easter circulars came out last week, and they were full of little girls’ dresses and little boys’ suits. Pastel colors were everywhere, dyed eggs and chocolate bunnies ubiquitous. Every kind of ham you can imagine, and some you’ve never … Continue reading

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Easter: More Than a Promise of Life After Death

Most pastors have more than a passing acquaintance with death and dying. They are frequently called to people’s bedsides at the time of death. They spend hours in rooms over which a pall has already been cast, where people speak … Continue reading

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Things you might not know about Easter

Everyone knows about Easter. Jelly beans, colored eggs, and dress clothes. Big dinners. And the whole religious thing. What else is there to know? There’s plenty. For example, did you know that the word “Easter” is derived from the name … Continue reading

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Questions at the heart of the gospel

In the four Gospel accounts of the life and death of Jesus, no one ever used the word “resurrection” to describe Jesus’s return from death, neither the ancient writers nor the people whose words and actions they reported. This surprised … Continue reading

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