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Posts tagged "Easter"

The Beautiful Truth of Collateral Beauty

The Beautiful Truth of Collateral Beauty

In the Gospel reading appointed for Good Friday, Pilate asks Jesus, “What is truth?” He seems to really want to know. He seems to be searching for an answer to explain this bruised and beaten Jew standing before him and the chaotic scene outside in his courtyard. And the truth is what we come to church seeking each Good Friday. With Pilate we ask, “What is truth?” We show up before God on the day commemorating Christ’s death for us, asking such questions as, Why was this necessary? Why did God have to die for us? Why would God die for…

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Easter is God’s Great Yes to Earth

Easter is God’s Great Yes to Earth

This Easter Monday reflection comes to us from our friend Chad Bird.

This is the annual time of year some Christians roll their eyes as they tsk-tsk over eggs and bunnies smothering the real meaning of Easter.

I beg to differ. If anyone needs to roll his eyes, it’s God as he sees some of his followers more interested in heaven than he is.

Easter is God’s great affirmation of the earth and all it contains. The day when God says Yes to chocolate eggs and white bunnies, little girls’ pretty dresses and elaborate family dinners, trumpeting lilies and bodies of flesh and blood.

Easter…

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When Jesus Gets Crucified and Churches Get Bombed: Take a Seat this Holy Week

When Jesus Gets Crucified and Churches Get Bombed: Take a Seat this Holy Week

As has been well before established, I was not raised with parents who fixated all that much on church. We went every Sunday. But there weren’t a lot of “extras.” We didn’t come back for any Wednesday programming. I honestly cannot remember a potluck supper. And my mother would have straight up told you that anyone who attended worship on Christmas Day needed their head checked.

I don’t blame them. They are self-described “Recovering Southern Baptists,” of the most rural of rural Souths. Their two-services-on-Sunday-supper-on-Wednesday-oh-have-you-accepted-Jesus-Christ-as-your-Lord-and-Savior-because-if-not-hell-awaits-you box was checked years ago. 

But once, maybe by mistake, they took me…

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The Difference Between Christmas and Easter

The Difference Between Christmas and Easter

A few paragraphs from James Martin’s remarkable article in this past Sunday’s Wall Street Journal, “The Challenge of Easter”:

The Christmas story is largely nonthreatening to nonbelievers: Jesus in the manger, surrounded by Mary and Joseph and the adoring shepherds, is easy to take. As the Gospels of Matthew and Luke recount, there was no little danger involved for Mary and Joseph. But for the most part, it can be accepted as a charming story. Even nonbelievers might appreciate the birth of a great teacher.

By contrast, the Easter story is both appalling and astonishing: the craven betrayal of Jesus by one…

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Another Week Ends: Anselmian Austerity, Finding Your Passions, Gallbladder Cleanses, Descents Into Hell and a Few Conference Updates

Another Week Ends: Anselmian Austerity, Finding Your Passions, Gallbladder Cleanses, Descents Into Hell and a Few Conference Updates

1. Giles Fraser at The Guardian is at it again, making a bit of stretch – though an interesting one – on the role of Anselm’s atonement theory on the Greek debt crisis:

According to Anselm, and the Reformation thinkers that followed him, the story of Easter is basically God’s response to a debt crisis. The argument is this: human beings have sinned against God, thus incurring a debt that has to be paid. (If you think this shift from sin to debt is odd – and it is – remember we still speak of criminals as “paying back” their debt to society.) On…

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When the Time’s Toxins – Christian Wiman

From Orion Magazine’s celebration of poetry month

tree-of-life52When the time’s toxins
have seeped into every cell

and like a salted plot
from which all rain, all green, are gone

I and life are leached
of meaning

somehow a seed
of belief

sprouts the instant
I acknowledge it:

little weedy hardy would-be
greenness

tugged upward
by light

while deep within
roots like talons

are taking hold again
of this our only earth.

The Way to God Is the Way Into Darkness: Bultmann on Hope and the Cross

Another appropriate Easter quote comes from a sermon on Lamentations 3:22-41, found in Rudolf Bultmann’s sermon collection, This World and Beyond:

imageThe way to God leads not to hell but through hell, or, in Christian terms through the cross. It leads us not to hopelessness but to a hope which transcends all human hope; and we must silence all human hope, if that divine hope is to dawn for us.

We must make this clear to ourselves: for man as he is, laden with wishes and plans, with longings and hope — and this means for us all, we who form our dream pictures as to how our life should go according to our desire and will — for all of us the way to God is the way into that darkness which for us means hell…. the breath of the Lord can sweep away everything of ours in a second and for our eyes there is nothing left but comfortless waste. That is the meaning of God: His majesty annihilates whatever stands independently. His word is a word that slays.

This hell we must traverse; before the life of the resurrection stands the cross. “It is the essence of God” says Luther, “first to destroy what is in us before He bestows on us His gifts.” (p 233)

Legalism, Gnosticism, and Resurrection: An Easter Reflection

Legalism, Gnosticism, and Resurrection: An Easter Reflection

Some people have said that the ‘grace message’ can tend toward Gnosticism. Luther’s exposition of St. Paul’s distrust of the Law can feel like a distrust of the restored, peaceful world to which the Law bears witness. The most extreme interpretations of Luther’s “two kingdoms”, with Christianity’s oft-implied indifference to temporal matters, does nothing to help the problem. And the best modern adaptations of his theology have often been indebted to existentialism, or progenitors of it. The Kierkegaard of the Postscript immediately springs to mind (pseudonymously Johannes Climacus), who argued that world-history is a distraction, and the most important thing to…

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Descending Theology: The Resurrection by Mary Karr

Vasiliy Kandinsky's "Great Resurrection (Grosse Auferstehung)"

Vasiliy Kandinsky’s “Great Resurrection (Grosse Auferstehung)”

From the far star points of his pinned extremities,
cold inched in—black ice and squid ink—
till the hung flesh was empty. Lonely in that void
even for pain, he missed his splintered feet,
the human stare buried in his face.
He ached for two hands made of meat
he could reach to the end of.
In the corpse’s core, the stone fist of his heart

began to bang on the stiff chest’s door,
and breath spilled back into that battered shape. Now
it’s your limbs he long to flow into–
from the sunflower center in your chest
outward–as warm water
shatters at birth, rivering every way.

 

Originally published in Poetry, January 2006, the revised version above was collected in Sinners Welcome: Poems.

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Twenty Eight Verses One Through Ten

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Chapter Twenty Eight Verses One Through Ten

This morning’s devotion comes from Jacob Smith. A reminder that this devotion (and 364 others) will be released at the Spring Conference in the long-awaited Mockingbird Devotional: Good News for Today (and Every Day).

“…Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said…” (ESV)

This is the account of the first Easter morning. However, on this Easter morning there is no linen, no brass instruments, no baked hams or Easter eggs, and no large lilac hats. Instead, the initial tone of the first Easter morning is…

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“And Death Shall Have No Dominion” by Dylan Thomas

Dylan ThomasAnd death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Jesus the Fractured Prism

From Leander Keck’s Who Is Jesus?:

Frederic_Edwin_Church_-_Vision_of_the_Cross_-_Google_Art_ProjectEaster did not displace the cross. To the contrary it is precisely Easter that forbids Christian theology from so emphasizing the life and teaching of Jesus that the cross becomes a tragedy that broke off a splendid life of love and self-giving; rather, Easter requires Christian theology to keep pondering the meaning of the cross for its understanding of both Jesus and the God he trusted. In short, if God validated and vindicated precisely the Jesus who was executed on Golgotha, then he remains the fractured prism through which one sees into that mysterious Reality called “God.”