God of History

Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 47; 147:12-20, Exodus 13:3-10, 1 Corinthians 15:41-50, Matthew 28:16-20

God visited ten plagues upon Egypt before Pharaoh freed the Hebrews. Scholars estimate these plagues unfolded over a period anywhere from a month to a year, but even a week of boils, locusts, and other disasters must have felt unending. The last and worst one – the death of the firstborn of Egypt – was so terrible that God assured Moses Pharaoh would finally relent. It would be so effective the people would need to be ready on a moment’s notice, without even enough time to let bread rise. The Lord commanded them to prepare unleavened (yeast-free) dough, and they took it with them when Pharaoh ordered them to depart. Baked in the wilderness, this unleavened bread was literally their first taste of freedom in four centuries.   Continue reading

Joy and Fear


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 99; 147:1-11, Exodus 12:40-51, 1 Corinthians (15:29) 30-41, Matthew 28:1-16

When Mary Magdalene and the other Mary visited the tomb of Jesus on that first Easter morning, they found the tomb empty and the stone rolled away. A young man robed in white greeted them by saying “Do not be afraid!” He explained Jesus had risen and gone ahead to Galilee. Matthew tells us they left the tomb filled with fear and joy. They were overjoyed when Jesus met them on their way to find the other disciples and deliver the angel’s message. He greeted them and also said “Do not be afraid.”

Many of our most joyous life experiences also include a degree of fear. Continue reading

The Rest of the Story


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 98; 146, Exodus 12:28-39, 1 Corinthians 15:12-28, Mark 16:9-20

The phrase “history is written by the victors” is usually attributed to Winston Churchill or Walter Benjamin. The implication is that each culture or civilization gaining prominence rewrites history as propaganda flattering itself. Some facts may be inconvenient or unavoidable, but over time the need to define ourselves as the good guys spins them; consider recent proposed textbook revisions redefining slaves as “immigrants” and the slave trade as the “Atlantic triangular trade.”

Could this idea influence our reading of the Passover story in Exodus?  Continue reading

Rolling Away the Stones


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window): 
Psalms 97; 145, Exodus 12:14-27, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Mark 16:1-8

When Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James visited the tomb of Jesus, they found the stone rolled aside and the tomb empty, nothing but a shroud left behind. A young man in a white robe told them Jesus had already gone ahead to Galilee.

If we open ourselves to God’s love and forgiveness, resurrection is a process as native as breathing. We can see it at work in addictions recovery, mended relationships, and lives rebuilt after disaster or tragedy. The difference between surviving and thriving is our daily willingness to embrace the possibility of resurrection – of an entirely new life in God’s love. Continue reading

Risen and Recognized


Easter readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Acts 10:34-43, Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24, Acts 10:34-43, Luke 24:1-12

Today’s daily readings:
Psalms 93; 150, Exodus 12:1-14, John 1:1-18, Luke 24:13-35

Jesus Christ is risen today! Alleluia!

Where will we encounter him? Cleopas and another disciple (possibly his wife, who was present at the crucifixion) were on the road to Emmaus when they met him. Surprised that he didn’t seem to know about recent events in Jerusalem, they spoke of the crucifixion and the empty tomb. Though he interpreted for them the meaning of everything that had happened, they still did not know who he was. When he sat down to eat with them and blessed bread and broke it, “their eyes were opened” and they knew the risen Christ. “He had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

Like the disciples who met him on the road, or the boat full of disciples who later saw him on the shore but didn’t recognize him, our vision of Christ can be limited by our expectations. Continue reading

Inside Out


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab / window):
Psalms 43; 149, Lamentations 3:37-58, Hebrews 4:1-16, Romans 8:1-11

How do you go on?

After one of your closest companions betrays your beloved teacher …
After fear has driven you to deny your friend and savior …
After the messiah to whom you dedicated your life lies in a tomb…

… how do you go on?

Continue reading

Holy Friday


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 22; 148, Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-33, 1 Peter 1:10-20, John 13:36-38

Readings for Good Friday:
Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 22, Hebrews 10:16-25, John 18:1-19:42

If “Good Friday” seems like an odd name for a day commemorating a crucifixion, understand that good used to mean holy. All over the world, Christians re-enact Christ’s journey to Golgotha (also called Calvary) and his terrible execution. From congregations reading the passion together, to prayer groups walking the stations of the cross in troubled neighborhoods, to entire towns becoming Jerusalem for the day, Christians feel compelled to relive the story. Continue reading

Where is bread and wine?


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab / window):
Psalms 27; 147:12-20, Lamentations 2:10-18, 1 Corinthians 10:14-17; 11:27-32, Mark 14:12-25

Maundy Thursday is the day Christians traditionally observe The Last Supper, when we received the gift of communion from Christ. No matter our particular practices and beliefs around communion, all Christians can recognize it unites us across time and place. The significance of celebrating a salvation accomplished through a broken body and shed blood has been contemplated for lifetimes, yet its power and mystery are undiminished. Continue reading

Only Tenants


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab / window):
Psalms 5; 147:1-11, Lamentations 2:1-9, 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11, Mark 12:1-11

The Parable of the Tenants is a difficult story, which forces us to confront our unwillingness to put God’s desires above our own. A landowner entrusts his vineyard to tenants while he travels abroad. After the harvest the landowner dispatches servants to collect his share, but the tenants greet the servants with violence that ranges from beatings to murder. Finally the landowner sends his son, and they kill him too.  Continue reading

Paulitically Correct

Today’s readings (click  below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 34; 146, Lamentations 1:17-22, 2 Corinthians 1:8-22, Mark 11:27-33

Remember the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup commercials where one person walked down the sidewalk carrying chocolate, another person rounded the corner carrying peanut butter, and they collided? “You got your chocolate in my peanut butter! You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!” Then smiles as a voice announced: “Two great tastes that taste great together!” Religion and politics are the opposite of whatever that was: mix them together and it leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Continue reading