No Death, No Resurrection. No Resurrection, Just Death.

Posted by on Mar 29, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Easter arrives in 3 days.  But before you open that package, remember Good Friday.

Good Friday – the day all hell broke loose – is the Tim Lincecum to Easter’s Sergio Romo.  A biblical Yin to the happy Yang.  The carrot cake that demands cream cheese frosting.  A ‘step 1’ that leads to ‘step 2,’ without which ‘step 2’ would be meaningless.

Good Friday makes sense of Easter.  No death, no need for a resurrection.

Good Friday at our congregation  equals somber, joyless, and dark.  No happy.  No clapping.  No laughing.  Just an incredibly vivid depiction of the crucifixion that fuses the ancient shadowy service of Tenebrae with modern imagery and music.  Your entire being experiences the breaking of Jesus’ body, the pouring out of His blood.  And then your same being receives both as you leave in silence.

It is by far the most powerful service you will ever attend.  And it deepens your love for Easter because you now understand how you got to the end of the game and why the frosting needs to be so sweet.

In a divinely ironic way the darkness of Good Friday makes Easter’s brightness even more so.  Death enriches resurrection.

Easter undoes all of the death in the world.  Be sure you worship on Easter.

But I also hope you gather with other Jesus-followers for Good Friday.  It is the reason for the resurrection, the why behind the empty tomb.

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Christmas exists because evil is real.

Posted by on Dec 19, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

 

You and I don’t often think of God visiting us. We might go visit God when we die, but we rarely think of God visiting us.

When we do, it’s almost always associated with a visit of God’s judgment. Anytime there’s a calamity or natural disaster, God’s bringing His bag of judgment. Typhoon, tornado or the Texans lose and “God visited, and he was torqued.” If you get into that mindset, though, then you only associate God with punishment and you fail to welcome Him when He wants to bring comfort, redemption, and rescue. We become fearful of Him rather than thankful for Him. We forget he is like the sunrise that visits us every day to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

There is an entire community in Newtown, CT that is sitting in darkness, in the shadow of death. Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook elementary school revealed the depth of the darkness. Evil deeply unsettles us especially when it bears a human face. Evil planned and contemplated by one of us, a co-bearer of the Imago Dei, the image of God, well, that belongs on a deeper, darker shelf in the closet, and when it comes out, one truly wishes for a better lock on the closet door. A deadbolt keyed only from the outside, perhaps.

The depressing reality is that darkness can’t ultimately be kept at bay when in human form. It can be restrained by rules and laws and regulations, but human nature is infinitely more diabolical than rules and laws and regulations: it always wills a way to win. And when it lacks any semblance of eternal judgment, when absent of accountability to a Higher Being than the state, it strives to win at all costs.

When the human-led Sandy Hooks of the world happen, inevitably we demand a divine answer: “Sovereign gods should have a better handle on their worlds.” It is the age-old control conundrum: “I’d like evil controlled but I’d like my will unfettered.”

Evil is like darkness: both are the result of something being absent more than they are the result of something being present. They are what you get when you’re lacking what is better. Evil results when good goes. Darkness results when light leaves. Or, from the other side of the same coin, evil grows when good is kept at bay and darkness reigns when light is shut out.

Christmas exists because evil is real. Jesus came as the Savior of the world because the world needs a savior. He is God’s answer to evil. He is God’s compassionate light shining in a world living in the shadow of death.

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