Happy Easter, Everyone!

“O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant us so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen” (The Book of Common Prayer).

It’s officially Easter. It also happens to be April Fools’ Day. It seems fitting when most of the world looks at Christians as fools for believing and living as they do.

It does seem foolish to strive for greatness by becoming the servant of all.

It does seem foolish to turn the other cheek instead of striking back.

It does seem foolish to seek to gain your life by losing it and to pick up your cross daily to die to sin and to follow Jesus.

It does seem foolish to proclaim Jesus words that He is the way, the truth, and the life in the face of so many others who would tell you that there are many paths to God.

It does seem foolish to follow a carpenter’s son who wrote no books and led no great revolts. His ministry lasted barely three years and He died as a criminal in the worst way possible.

Yet what seems like foolishness to most is the wisdom of God.

That same carpenter’s son lived sinlessly, and after dying on the cross, defeated sin, death, and hell forever by raising from the grave after three short days.

We now mark history by His life and there are billions who profess to follow this Jesus, who is both Lord and God.

So once again, happy Easter. May both your words and your actions testify to this foolishness that is wiser than the wisdom of men.


Holy Saturday

“O God, Creator of heaven and earth:  Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the  coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen” (The Book of Common Prayer).

According to weather reports, tomorrow will be a wet soggy mess. And it’s also Easter Sunday. Too bad the weather couldn’t have carried over from today with its perfect temperatures and blue skies.

Still, the point of Sunday isn’t the weather but an empty tomb. Jesus may well be the only figure in history to have borrowed a tomb. He really only needed it for Saturday.

It’s true that Jesus is alive and it’s also true that He’s coming back to take His followers with Him and to rescue and redeem a fallen creation.

That Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is a sort of in-between day, coming in between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Right now, it feels a lot like living in the in-between, looking back on the incarnation and eagerly awaiting the Second Coming.

The hope is that just as surely as Jesus walked out of the tomb on that Sunday morning, He will return, just as real and just as alive.

Sure, there will be easter bunnies and chocolate and easter egg hunts. I don’t have a problem with all that. I only need to remember that above all that reigns the living and breathing Jesus. And that makes even a wet and rainy mess of a day better.




Lent 2018

“Lent is the season in which we ought to be surprised by joy. Our self-sacrifices serve no purpose unless, by laying aside this or that desire, we are able to focus on our heart’s deepest longing: unity with Christ. In him– in his suffering and death, his resurrection and triumph, we find our truest joy” (from the devotional Bread and Wine: Readings for Lent and Easter).

That’s the reason for all the fasting. For me, it’s been a tradition for the past few years to fast from social media. This year, I’m adding Netflix to the mix.

I don’t want it to be merely an exercise in going without. I want that space normally filled with Facebook, Instagram, and all those Netflix shows to be spiritually useful.

My prayer for all you who participate in this Lent season is that you will find Jesus in all the space normally given to television or food or social media. I pray the deprivation will open your eyes in a new way to what Jesus is saying to you in the days and weeks leading up to Easter.

May all of the sacrifice of Lent lead to an Easter where our hearts are captivated all over again by God’s own sacrifice in sending Jesus to us and for us.


It’s Good to Be Back (in Social Media Land)

Today was my first official day back on social media since February 28, which just so happened to be my birthday as well as Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. That’s the first day of Lent.

As usual, I gave up social media for Lent. It was fantastic. I enjoyed the absence of political rants and Facebook drama and passive aggressiveness which makes me seem absolutely normal in comparison. I almost didn’t come back.

But here I am again, posting about all the places I go during the week, sharing all the diverse music I’m listening to, and again trying not to judge people’s grammar (and rolling my eyes constantly in the process). I might even post a pic or two of food and/or beverages I’m consuming to make you infinitely jealous.

I do like keeping up with friends and what’s going on in their lives. I had felt completely out of the loop for a month and a half. I honestly have no idea about who’s gotten engaged or married or pregnant. I don’t know how I survived all those years without social media.

Oh wait, yes I do. I had a life. Or at least I had books.

Social media is good and well as long as you keep boundaries and don’t let it run your life or determine your self-worth. I believe that it’s best to keep it positive and uplifting. It’s so much easier to sit behind a keyboard and tear someone else down through a post or comment than it would be to ridicule them to their face.

I’ve noticed that a lot of people who claim Jesus as Lord will unleash political diatribes against those on the other side of the spectrum instead of heeding His words to love and pray for your enemies and to do good to those who mistreat you. Again, social media makes it easier to do that.

You may not always agree on everything, but it costs you nothing to be civil and show respect to everyone. And yes, Jesus meant what He said about loving your enemies.

I intend to do my best to keep things light and fun with lots of pictures of my geriatric feline, plus random and odd memes that strike me as funny.

That’s all. You can go back to your hilarious videos of cats in shark costumes riding on roombas.

An Easter Prayer

“Lord God,
You loved this world so much,
That you gave your one and only Son,
That we might be called your children too.
Lord, help us to live in the gladness and grace
Of Easter Sunday, everyday.
Let us have hearts of thankfulness
For your sacrifice.
Let us have eyes that look upon
Your grace and rejoice in our salvation.
Help us to walk in that mighty grace
And tell your good news to the world.
All for your glory do we pray, Lord, Amen” (Rachel Marie Stone).

Happy Easter, everyone! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!


Good News on this Holy Saturday

“On Holy Saturday I do my best to live in that place, that wax-crayon place of trust and waiting. Of accepting what I cannot know. Of mourning what needs to be mourned. Of accepting what needs to be accepted. Of hoping for what seems impossible” (Jerusalem Jackson GreerA Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting, and Coming Together).

“To be sure, it was not Easter Sunday but Holy Saturday, but, the more I reflect on it, the more this seems to be fitting for the nature of our human life: we are still awaiting Easter; we are not yet standing in the full light but walking toward it full of trust” (Pope Benedict XVIMilestones: Memoirs 1927-1977).

I purposely avoid watching and/or reading the news like the plague.

I know it’s good to be informed and to know what’s going on in the world. I also am coming to trust what’s presented to me as news less and less these days. I’m fairly certain that the people in charge of reporting the news are less interested in getting at the truth than in promoting their own agenda.

I also know that tomorrow we celebrate the best news of all time.

Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed.

Those words will echo around the world in places of worship ranging from a few followers to massive sanctuaries crammed with thousands of people. Tomorrow, more than any other Sunday of the year, we will see people who wouldn’t otherwise be caught dead in a church who are trying to figure out this Jesus for themselves.

The best evidence for the gospel of Jesus Christ is people who whose lives match what they profess with their lips. The worst are those who praise Jesus with their words on Sunday then walk out the door and deny Him by how they look and act no differently than non-believers during the rest of the week.

May we celebrate the best news of all of the resurrection by not only talking the good news but living it out as well. That’s the best way to celebrate Easter Sunday that I know of.


Good Friday 2017

“But thank God the crucifixion was not the last act in that great and powerful drama,” King preached. “There is another act. And it is something that we sing out and cry and ring out today. Thank God a day came when Good Friday had to pass” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

“A man who was completely innocent, offered himself as a sacrifice for the good of others, including his enemies, and became the ransom of the world. It was a perfect act” (Mahatma Gandhi).

“Our Lord has written the promise of resurrection, not in books alone but in every leaf of springtime” (Martin Luther).

Why is today called Good Friday? What’s so great about Jesus being tortured to death for a crime He didn’t commit? Why does it still matter nearly 2,000 years later?

It seems weird to call the day of Jesus’ crucifixion Good Friday, but when you look at it with Easter Sunday in mind, it makes a lot more sense.

If all you had was Good Friday with no resurrection, then it’s a very Tragic Friday. We should all stay home on Sunday and live however we want. Get stoned, get drunk, get laid, do whatever because none of it matters if Jesus is still in that tomb.

But God raised Jesus from the dead. He walked out of the tomb two days later and everything changed. Absolutely everything. That’s what makes it good.

So much of what happens in our lives will only make sense in reverse. When God promises to work all things together for our good, we often can only see that good not looking ahead or in the midst of it, but looking back on it. We see then how God orchestrated every moment perfectly to lead us where we are now, the best possible outcome.


Maundy Thursday

I confess I don’t know a whole lot about Maundy Thursday. I understand that it is a remembrance of when Christ and the disciples gathered together in the upper room to take Eucharist on the night before Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified.

I know that some denominations also incorporate foot washing into their services, as Jesus washed His disciples feet and commanded them to follow His example. I know my church didn’t do that part, but I do think they follow the servant attitude behind that command.

I think to fully appreciate Easter Sunday, it helps to experience Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. In order for there to be a resurrection, there also first had to be a death. There had to be a cross before there was an empty tomb.

I also confess that up until recently, I skipped right by these days and focused solely on Easter. For me, it was all about the candy (especially the chocolate kind) and maybe a little bit of gratitude thrown Jesus’ way.

The older I get, the more I appreciate all that Easter represents. I see more of what I could have been apart from grace and more of how much I need Jesus as much now as I did when I first believed. If anything, that need has grown.

I see that Easter, like Christmas, is more than one day of the year. It’s something that believers live out all 365 days of the year while they choose this particular Sunday to commemorate all that Jesus did (and continues to do) for us.


This Blood’s for You: An Easter Toast for 2017

“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song” (Pope John Paul II).

Once again, I raise my glass and drink to all of you outcasts and loners out there.

Here’s to all of you with perpetually plastered smiles on your faces whose cheery dispositions hide a world of pain that few know about. You may project eternal optimism, but inwardly you feel you’re in the middle of the deepest darkest valley.

Here’s to you who know all too well the meaning of being alone in a crowd. You’re always the one feeling left out in all the conversations and the one who never gets invited to group activities.

Here’s to you who never quite fit in anywhere and who always feel unwanted. Maybe you feel closer than ever to simply giving up on everything.

Here’s to you who feel invisible, rejected, undesirable, outcast, and alone. Jesus died for you. Jesus saw you in your darkest and at your worst and loved you enough to die for you, then and there.

You are no longer unworthy because Jesus considered you worth not a little or even a lot but all of His precious blood shed on that cross.

Here’s to all those nobodies whom God has called to turn the world upside down. You who were once far off and strangers to hope and desperately awkward and ashamed are now sons and daughters of the King and joint-heirs with Jesus to the Kingdom and– best of all– the beloved of your Abba.

Here’s to those who finally belong and who finally fit in and who finally are learning how to embrace all of who God made them to be and to find that in comforting to the image of Christ they become their very best and truest selves.

Here’s to you.

The Sacrament of the Present Moment

“[W]e grow in our knowledge of Christ-with-us by, first of all, constant expectation of him in the place where we are, wherever that may be. ‘The sacrament of the present moment,’ as it is sometimes called, is from the human side nothing but the invocation, expectation, and receptivity of God’s presence and activity where we are and in what we are doing at any given time. Then we steadily grow in graceful interactions with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They gradually take up all of our life into their trinitarian life (John 17:21–24).

Among the many misunderstandings Jesus had to counteract in his teaching was the one that held the kingdom to be some gigantic event in some special place. This was human thinking about human kingdoms, which always fit that description. He was constantly faced with people who wanted to know when the kingdom of God was coming. When is the big commotion? He patiently replied that the kingdom of God was not that kind of thing. It was simply God reigning, governing. It is not a special event you could see happening over here or possibly over there. ‘Now look,’ he said, ‘the kingdom of God is right here among you’ (Luke 17:20–21, paraphrase). His main sermon line was: ‘Get a new thought! The kingdom of the heavens is available to you from right where you are!’ (Matt. 4:17, paraphrase).

from Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge by Dallas Willard

One of the greatest temptations in the spiritual life is to always be expecting God’s activity, but in some undefined future setting. I love the idea of the sacrament of the present moment, that the kingdom of God is here and now because God is actively working here and now.

Where you are right now is where God wants you to be and where God wants to use you in this very moment. And God specializes in using people just like you.