Looking for someone else

John 20:14 At this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus, I don’t want this to be you. I would guess that Mary saw only two options: Jesus was either dead, or he was alive. She had seen him die and knew he was dead. Then he came back to “life,” and maybe she assumed that if Jesus was “alive” again, he would go back to being how he was before. For me, it’s easy to imagine these two options (and only these two options) for God: (1) God is dead, dead meaning DEAD, and therefore powerless and uncaring; or (2) God is alive, meaning active and powerful. This would be a never-fading, never-dying God who prevented suffering and death from happening in the first place. But what have we got? In John 11:1–44, Jesus allows Lazarus to die, […]

Read More

Present only there

John 20:13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. Because my dad’s gone, and I don’t know where he is. Because I saw him cry like that. Because twice, I held him as he cried. Because of the loneliness of the people where he lived. Because he left me a long time ago, and I miss him. Because our reconciliation came only when he was so out of it. Because I never saw him dead, and I don’t know whether he ever looked peaceful. Because I saw a stranger feed him. Because of his childlike moment of joy when the guitar man came. Because I gave him so little such joy, but maybe somehow I could have? Because no efforts to bring him relief or joy seemed to help. Because to visit with God, I had to visit my dad. Because while my dad was sick, Jesus […]

October 20, 2007 John

Read More

What can come out of the dark?

John 20:11–14 The disciples then went back homebut Mary stood outside the tomb weeping.As she wept, she knelt to look into the tomband saw two angels sitting there…. They said to her, “Woman, why do you weep?” “They took my Master,” she said,“and I don’t know where they put him.” After she said this, she turned away and saw Jesus standing therebut she didn’t recognize him. I did a little bit of artwork related to this passage, which you can see by clicking here. A warm thanks to Designs in Light for the photography.

Read More

To be found

Suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.”
(Luke 15:8–9)

Read More

Waves of sand

Luke 13:10–17 When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.”Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. I had a dream a few weeks ago that has already served me a few times as a touchstone. In the dream, a young man is in a desert, and waves of sand are sweeping over him as if they were water. He has to stay upright and pay attention so he won’t be smothered. What are my waves? …. the thought of an overwhelming problem in the world or in the life of someone I love …. an impulsive idea that seems to need my immediate attention …. a tangled situation that I don’t know how to solve ….. In her sermon yesterday, our vicar pointed out that the bent-over woman doesn’t ask […]

Read More

A maddeningly long wait

Luke 12:32–40 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. Okay, so…Servant = meMy master = JesusHouse = the worldHouse’s owner = whatever’s calling the shots around here What does it look like to be ready? What helps me stay ready, even if it’s a maddeningly long wait? It helps me that Jesus predicts a maddeningly long wait. Thank you, Jesus, for being realistic. It’s not a surprise to you, I guess, that this world is a dark room in which people seem to be stumbling all over each other. But someday the door will open, and light will break in from the outside. That’s […]

Read More

Staying with Jesus

John 19:38–42 [My paraphrase…] Two wealthy men who’ve been pretending not to be Jesus’ disciples come forward to claim his dead body, prepare it for burial, and lay it in a tomb. I’ve been working my way through the gospel of John, and for round about a year I’ve been mired in the crucifixion. Jesus’ willingness to suffer astonishes and puzzles me something awful, because the implications are really frightening. Back in March or April I wrote the following question on the bookmark that I keep in my breviary: Christ is not driven by a need to avoid suffering. What does life look like, knowing this? What did going forward with life look like for these two men who had just watched Jesus willingly endure suffering? For one thing, they stayed with him, tolerating the discomfort of a sight, sound, smell, and touch that just about everyone else wanted to […]

Read More

My cupboard is bare

Luke 11:1–13 … Teach us to pray. Hmm. …one of [Jesus’] disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” …Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and she goes to that friend at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’ “Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, though he will not get up and give her the bread because she is his friend, yet because of the woman’s boldness he will get up and give her as much as she needs. I heard this, went home, and sat in my chair to reflect. Here’s what hit […]

Read More