EasterBog!! He is Risen!

He is risen indeed.

I gotta say it– Lent was good for me! Honed some disciplines, thought deep thoughts, dreamed new dreams, and my journey through Romans was awesome… Maybe Exodus next?

 

And now, to move forward, trusting that the power that raised Jesus from the dead can raise us, too.

Really thankful, particularly today on Easter, for God’s call on my life. Easter is kind-of the SuperBowl for preachers, and each Easter it’s  an honor and privilege to stand in front of folks and share the Good News.

Happy Easter,

Mark

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LentBlog Day 42: Waiting.

Not much to say tonight… I read Romans 16, which is mainly personal greetings and a really neat benediction. Paul again makes it pretty clear the Gospel is available to everyone, for which I am thankful. He names Pheobe as a leader in the church, which is another place that would perhaps silence the “women can’t preach” camp if they actually read it.

But while there are some things I could write about from Romans 16, on this Easter-Eve I’m feeling pretty subdued. Mostly I’m waiting. Waiting on tomorrow to come. waitingWaiting for Resurrection on a couple of different levels. Waiting for newness of life. Waiting for the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead to cut loose in our lives once again and raise us, too. Waiting for the purple and sack-cloth of Lent to give way to WHITE!

And most of the time I don’t do to well waiting.

Veni, veni, Emmanuel. Captivum solve Israel.

 

Blessings,

Mark

 

 

LentBlog Day 41: It’s Friday…

From Matthew 27:

 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46 And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.”50 Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.52 The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53 After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

NRSV

aslan_on_table

Then Revisiting Romans 6, in snippets:

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death…

For if we have been united with him in a death like his…

We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed…

For whoever has died is freed from sin.

But if we have died with Christ…

10 The death he died, he died to sin, once for all…

11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

NRSV

The life we have in Christ only happens through first identifying with his death. Easter doesn’t happen without Friday.

Found myself serving communion tonight at the beginning of Tenebrae gathering and had a deep, deep sense of this truth wash over me. Folks must have been wondering why I was in tears as I served them, but I couldn’t help it.

I simply can’t get over how deep the rabbit-hole goes with Jesus. He really demands my my life, my soul, my all.

It’s Friday.

But Sunday is coming.

Blessings,

Mark

LentBlog Day 40: Toward the future…

Romans 15:1-6.

As I read Chapter 15 tonight, the first part jumped out at me a little. Particularly vv. 5-6:

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

NRSV

So the question for me becomes, how can we move forward, particularly in American Christianity, and live this out?  I’ve gone on and on in various places on this blog about how the church doesn’t seem to be living up to this standard. It’s well-documented. American culture regards church people as one of the main groups of people who do not get along. They’re right. We know it, if we’re honest. Blah Blah…

The question is, how do we move forward? How do we become known as people who love God and their neighbors wholeheartedly instead of being known for fighting about worthless issues?Chalice

I think it takes Romans 12:1-2. I think it will happen when groups of people all over the place begin to discover they want to be transformed into the image of Jesus by the renewing of their minds through daily self-LESS living more than they want to be entertained by a Sunday morning circus-act. More than they want to get their way on the color of the chairs. More than we want to fight for our rights, our desires, and our felt needs.  We’ve simply got to want Jesus more.

I think that’s where I’m at. I want myself and any ministry or church we might lead to be authentically Christian more than I want to have the hip new thing. And I want to spend my time, effort, energy, and gifts working with people who have that kind of hunger and thirst for righteousness.

Care to join me?

Blessings on Maundy Thursday.

Mark

LentBlog Day 39: On Faith…

Romans 14.

So here I was tonight, cruising along, reading Romans 14, understanding what Paul is talking about here in regards to eating or not eating certain stuff. I was imagining what the Jewish Christians in Rome must have thought to see a Gentile Christian chowing down on a pork chop or something.  I’m tracking with him when he admonishes the ones who don’t eat not to judge those who do. He warns those who do eat not to belittle those who don’t. It’s a pretty vanilla chapter for a 21st Century Christian. Don’t pass judgment… don’t belittle… don’t do anything that would cause a brother or sister to stumble… I’m reading, and tracking, wondering what I’m going to write about tonight when… BAM!! (Or as Nick would say, “KA-BLOOEY!!”): the very last verse of the chapter explodes onto the scene and really makes me think.kaboom-wide

 But those who have doubts are condemned if they eat, because they do not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

And it occurs to me that Paul is saying something like, “Eating something is not the point… whether you eat or abstain, it’s still sin for you if you don’t do it from faith.” I am reminded of what Paul means by “faith” here… We’re talking the faith of Abraham and the faith of Jesus here. The faith that is reckoned as righteousness. The faith that trusts the unseen.

And I find myself humbled by that verse…  Personally, in my family, and in the church. How much of what we do in our life could we say doesn’t proceed from faith? How many places do we, maybe without even thinking about it, slide into the driver’s seat and call the shots without even thinking about what the faithful action would be? The answer to that question scares me a little… because it narrows for me the places in our lives where we are still compartmentalized. It brings into focus yet again the idea of holiness of heart and life… that God wants to sanctify all of me, not just part, so that everything I do proceeds from faith.

Blessings,

Mark

LentBlog Day 38: WAKE UP!

Romans 13:11-14

Our sons are awesome little guys. Our 2-year old, Charlie, is way more a morning person than I will ever be. When the sun is up, so is Charlie, ready for some warm chocolate milk and some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. The other day we were actually sleeping in a bit on a Saturday when Charlie came in our room and said, “Mommy, Daddy… sun is up! I get up!” Thanks, Spring-ahead time change. The one day we get to sleep in… and it wasn’t happening.

See, I kind of like that early morning, cool sheets, no worries, day hasn’t started feeling of just resting…  That, and my summer of marching Drum & Bugle Corps taught me how to sleep pretty much anywhere. But that “aaaaahhh” feeling of another hour before sunrise to just chill and rest gets me almost every time.

I think this passage of Scripture is a klanging, brassy alarm clock to that kind of attitude when it comes to our faith and life in the world.wakeup

I think would say when the church gets to comfortable with their dreamy, trance-like, snuggly-cozy, no responsibilities, rest of the world doesn’t exist sleepiness, we’re headed for trouble.

And I think many churches have lived there for way too long.

While we’ve been snuggled under the sheets, hitting the snooze-button just one more time, our culture has left us behind. And many times when someone has the courage to come along and say, “WAKE UP!!” they become either targets for unfounded attack or hipster talking points we post about but don’t really heed.

I think Paul is pleading with the church, then and now, to wake up. Turn the Light on. Take a shower and throw some water on your face. Get dressed. Drink some coffee. Now get out there and live-out your calling to love!

The question is, will the Master find us sleeping… comfortable but clueless; rested but ineffective… or will He find his people spending themselves in his Mission to save the world?

I’ll leave you with that while I go set my alarm.

Blessings,

Mark

 

LentBlog Day 37: A Short Post with A Monumental Point.

Romans 12:9-21.

love

Here’s Paul going all “love your enemies” again. The more I read this, the more I realize the only way to have a shot at accomplishing any of these attitudes and actions is to experience 12:1-2.  I do not have it in me to bless those who have persecuted me. I just don’t. Maybe that’s further proof that true Christianity is not a human-made self-help strategy. Paul gives us these lists of things that are completely impossible if we rely on our own strength, wisdom, grace, and power. And he presents them as not optional. They are actions and attitudes that are attainable in this life… And I’m newly convinced that it takes a super-natural work of God in my life to actually live this way.

I think God must be transforming us for love to be genuine.