Words of Life

The starving were crowding him, he spoke of eternal breadHis very own blood and flesh – shocked, people leftBut he turned to the twelve to ask how they feltWould they leave like the rest? Then Peter confessed: You have the words of eternal lifeWhere else would we go? He left the crowds by boat, asleep in the stern he rodeAs light rain rose to a squall, he slept through it alland when waves swamped the boat, his disciples lost hopeWhen Jesus was sleeping, it was hard work believing You have the words of eternal lifeWhere else would we go? Through grief, through doubt, through deathwe can glimpse our eternal restThough questions aren’t resolved,with our small faith, we can confess: You have the words of eternal lifeWhere else would we go? Jesus, return to us; dig us out from the dustWe won’t need faith once we gaze in your faceOnce you […]

March 27, 2013 John

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He walks in on it (Pentecost)

John 20:19-20 On the evening of that day, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them…. Here’s how I imagine it. Mary, Peter, and John are telling their stories from the morning, piecing it together—electrified, exuberant. But some in the room are grieving, depressed, and angry. Only Mary has seen you alive. Many don’t believe her. The other Mary is cooking dinner, filling the house with the smell of roasting meat. James is adding wood to the fire. It’s loud. Another woman chops vegetables on the big wooden table and bangs pots around. People talk and argue about the events of the last three days. What events, besides your death? Some say tombs have broken open and dead people are abroad in Jerusalem. Large earthquakes + 3-hour total eclipse of the sun. Most of your friends in […]

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What’s revealed (Easter 7)

John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God…. Eternal life starts before we die, and eternal life is to know something, something that changes the way we live. We had a series of powerful storms here in the Bay Area this winter. The rain felt endless, but during a break in it I went for a hike and saw this tree. It had fallen, and a ranger had cut it with a chainsaw and moved the pieces out of the way, off the path. I was struck by the beauty of what was revealed. Like each of us, this Eucalyptus was dying even before the storm brought it down. The storm hit, the tree fell, and the tree was broken open, showing its truth—a sight we wouldn’t have seen if the tree had stayed upright, looking fine. Back before Easter, a prayer for […]

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Gazing at Jesus

John 14:9 Jesus answered, “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” During the long silence that followed the reading of John 14:1–14 this morning at St. Cuthbert’s, I found myself wondering exactly what Jesus meant when he said that anyone who has seen him has seen God. In Exodus 33:20, God tells Moses that no one may see God’s face and live. So gazing at Jesus, we are able to gaze upon what would otherwise kill us. Looking at Jesus, really seeing him, is a way to pass down an otherwise deadly corridor; a way to reach the true, eternal, mysterious, awesome, hidden Source of Life. What actions, then, do I feel God calling me to take? Gaze more often at Jesus as he is described in the gospels … read the […]

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No, it’s not about comfort.

John 11:1–45 v. 37: But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” It’s the fifth Sunday in Lent, and the first anniversary of my dad’s death. The story of Lazarus’s death and resurrection (or resuscitation?) was very alive to me during March of last year. Here is an excerpt from my journal. March 15, 2007 The heading for this section in my bible is “Jesus Comforts the Sisters.” I just crossed it out. I don’t think your deepest intention and hope for them here is that they be comforted. Comfort is so little compared to whatever it is you’re really driving at in your interactions with them. No, you are not bringing COMFORT to the sisters—COMFORT would have been showing up a week earlier and sparing them Lazarus’s death scene, embalming, burial, and their own grieving, […]

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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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The breath of God: new life

John 20:22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said unto them, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost. I planted bulbs about a month ago, and this photo shows four tiny shoots above the ground. Can you see them? I can, but only because I have felt them with my fingertips. It dropped below freezing last week, which is rare for us, and I worried. But then I remembered that bulbs can survive much worse.  

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The last thing anyone saw

John 20:17 Jesus said, “Go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.’” Acts 1:9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. In York Minster, I remember seeing the soles of Jesus’ feet depicted on the ceiling, surrounded by a cloud. The last thing anyone saw of his physical body as he ascended! I can’t find any sign of such a thing on the Internet, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Here’s my version.

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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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