Luke 1:35 … and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. On the surface, fame; deeper down, obscurity. The angel has just told Mary that she will be famous, and she wonders how this will come about, given her empty state. The angel’s answer? Among other things, Mary will be overshadowed. Overshadowed. Light will be blocked. God’s proximity will throw Mary into darkness. In Isaiah 45:7, God says, “I cause light to shine. I also create darkness.” The author comments in verse 15, “You are a God who hides yourself.” This is a puzzling God, alright, whose love for me does not always involve enlightening me or saving me from the terrors of the night. God is not always driven to self-revelation. God is not afraid of darkness, is not anxious to make it go away as fast as possible, and in fact even creates it. And God […]

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She saw in the dark

John 20:1 On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 11–12 Mary Magdalene stood crying outside the tomb. She was still weeping when she stooped down and saw two angels inside. 14–15 [Mary] turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know who he was. Jesus asked her, “Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?” 18 Mary Magdalene then went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. She saw. In the darkness of night, in the darkness of a tomb, and in the darkness of confusion and grief, she saw. How does that work? —> I’m beckoned into the darkness —> I’m awakened to a sight —> perhaps, with grace, I’m led to a dim recognition of what it is I’m seeing (epiphany!) —> […]

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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, […]

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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.

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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 […]

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