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Archive for March, 2013

Easter Sunday Gospel John 20:1-8

As the lifeless body of Jesus is laid into the virgin tomb, those who witnessed the spectacle retreat into the city that has claimed the lives of so many prophets. All are crushed that their teacher and friend has died such a horrible death. Their hopes are dashed against the rocks of Golgotha. In the first hours of grief, Jesus’ followers huddle together in secret in the city, hoping to avoid arrests and executions. They mourn. They grieve. They remember. Three days later, some venture outside the city and return to the place where He was buried. Miraculously, the stone has been rolled back, and the rock-hewn tomb is empty. Has someone taken His body? Are His enemies laying a trap for His followers? Or perhaps—could it be—that the last days have arrived?

Before the sun had risen on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene made a trip to the tomb where His body was laid to rest. In the darkness, she discovered the covering had been rolled away. She darted out of the garden to find Simon Peter and the dearly loved disciple to deliver this startling news.

Mary Magdalene: They have taken the body of our Lord, and we cannot find Him!

Together, they all departed for the tomb to see for themselves. They began to run, and Peter could not keep up. The beloved disciple arrived first but did not go in. There was no corpse in the tomb, only the linens and cloths He was wrapped in. When Simon Peter finally arrived, he went into the tomb and observed the same: the cloth that covered His face appeared to have been folded carefully and placed, not with the linen cloths, but to the side. After Peter pointed this out, the other disciple (who had arrived long before Peter) also entered the tomb; and based on what he saw, faith began to well up inside him! (The Voice)

Categories: Easter, john

Holy Saturday Lectionary Reading

At evening time, a rich man from Arimathea arrived. His name was Joseph, and he had become a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked to be given Jesus’ body; Pilate assented and ordered his servants to turn Jesus’ body over to Joseph. So Joseph took the body, wrapped Jesus in a clean sheath of white linen, and laid Jesus in his own new tomb, which he had carved from a rock. Then he rolled a great stone in front of the tomb’s opening, and he went away. Mary Magdalene was there, and so was the other Mary. They sat across from the tomb, watching, remembering.

The next day, which is the day after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went together to Pilate. They reminded him that when Jesus was alive He had claimed that He would be raised from the dead after three days.

Chief Priests and Pharisees: So please order someone to secure the tomb for at least three days. Otherwise His disciples might sneak in and steal His body away, and then claim that He has been raised from the dead. If that happens, then we would have been better off just leaving Him alive.

Pilate: You have a guard. Go and secure the grave.

So they went to the tomb, sealed the stone in its mouth, and left the guard to keep watch (The Voice).

Categories: Holy Week

Good Friday VI: Annual Reflections

So much has happened in the past year! It has been an exciting year for my family.

Amy is actively involved as a writer and editor. She’s even been quoted by Slacktivist several times. Way to go Amy!

Jack is surviving fourth grade, and thriving in Mr. Bickford’s jazz band. Way to go Jack!

Sarah continues to learn at home and spend time with Sommer almost every Wednesday. The girls and Jack have a plan to buy a “mansion” and live together as adults. Jack even gets to have a wife! They’ll each have at least one dog. Way to go Sarah for painting a positive picture of the future!

I read Rachel Held Evans’ book A Year of Biblical Womanhood and it has transformed my perspective on living the Christian life with integrity in today’s world.

The Defense of Marriage Act is on trial at the Supreme Court, and it is clear that it will be found unconstitutional. Marriage will no longer be limited to a legal contract between one man and one woman.

I struggle with this concept, but many influential writers have drawn powerful parallels between slavery and persecution of the LGBT community. Right now I’m on the wrong side of history.

I am coming up to the end of my administrative internship and will be qualified to serve as a school administrator by the end of the summer. I am excited to see what comes next! I wonder if I will be a principal by next year. There is no hurry, but I imagine there will be opportunities available between now and then. I pray that I will have the wisdom to say no if necessary, and the opportunity to say yes to the right new position within the next three years.

My attempt to blog for the local Messenger Post papers fell through, but I’m satisfied. I’ve been so busy with other things, including the Data Analysis class on Coursera.

We now attend Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church. It was important to attend a church where Jack and Sarah would not hear the message that girls and women can’t be pastors. It is a welcoming congregation as well.

We now give to the church and to the zoo and Golisano Children’s Hospital. We are in a healthy place financially, in large part because of the lessons we learned at Lakeshore. That experience also prepared me for administration.

I’m so excited to see what the next year will bring my family. Jack will be a fifth grader. Sarah will be 8. Maybe Amy will be even further along in her goal to becoming a freelance editor.

I will continue to pray daily and blog daily and strive to live as a person of integrity and passion. I will bring my enthusiasm for spiritual growth to my job and my church and my friends & family.

Categories: annual goals, good friday

Good Friday Old Testament Reading

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Eternal One: See here! My servant will succeed.
He will grow in character and reputation, achieving high standing and status.
Just as people used to be shocked by you,
even so his appearance was disfigured;
His form—once glorious—was marred until it hardly seemed human.
Now many nations will be astonished at his prominence;
world rulers will be speechless in his presence,
For they will see what they’ve never been told;
they will understand what they’ve never heard.

Indeed, who would ever believe it?
Who would possibly accept what we’ve been told?
Who has witnessed the awesome power and plan of the Eternal in action?
Out of emptiness he came, like a tender shoot from rock-hard ground.
He didn’t look like anything or anyone of consequence—
he had no physical beauty to attract our attention.
So he was despised and forsaken by men,
this man of suffering, grief’s patient friend.
As if he was a person to avoid, we looked the other way;
he was despised, forsaken, and we took no notice of him.
Yet it was our suffering he carried,
our pain and distress, our sick-to-the-soul-ness.
We just figured that God had rejected him,
that God was the reason he hurt so badly.
But he was hurt because of us; he suffered so.
Our wrongdoing wounded and crushed him.
He endured the breaking that made us whole.
The injuries he suffered became our healing.
We all have wandered off, like shepherdless sheep,
scattered by our aimless striving and endless pursuits;
The Eternal One laid on him, this silent sufferer,
the sins of us all.

And in the face of such oppression and suffering—silence.
Not a word of protest, not a finger raised to stop it.
Like a sheep to a shearing, like a lamb to be slaughtered,
he went—oh so quietly, oh so willingly.
Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away.
From this generation, who was there to complain?
Who was there to cry “Foul”?
He was, after all, cut off from the land of the living,
Smacked and struck, not on his account,
because of how my people (my people!)
Disregarded the lines between right and wrong.
They snuffed out his life.
And when he was dead, he was buried with the disgraced
in borrowed space (among the rich),
Even though he did no wrong by word or deed.

It is hard to understand why God would crush His innocent Servant. But it is in His suffering for sin that God deals decisively with sin and its harmful effects.

Yet the Eternal One planned to crush him all along,
to bring him to grief, this innocent servant of God.
When he puts his life in sin’s dark place, in the pit of wrongdoing,
this servant of God will see his children and have his days prolonged.
For in His servant’s hand, the Eternal’s deepest desire will come to pass and flourish.
As a result of the trials and troubles that wrack his soul,
God’s servant will see light and be content
Because He knows, really understands, what it’s about; as God says,
“My just servant will justify countless others by taking on their punishment and bearing it away.
Because he exposed his very self—
laid bare his soul to the vicious grasping of death—
And was counted among the worst, I will count him among the best.
I will allot this one, My servant, a share in all that is of any value,
Because he took on himself the sin of many
and acted on behalf of those who broke My law.” (The Voice)

Categories: good friday, isaiah

Maundy Thursday Gospel Reading

John 13:1-17, 31-35

Before the Passover festival began, Jesus was keenly aware that His hour had come to depart from this world and to return to the Father. From beginning to end, Jesus’ days were marked by His love for His people. Before Jesus and His disciples gathered for dinner, the adversary filled Judas Iscariot’s heart with plans of deceit and betrayal. Jesus, knowing that He had come from God and was going away to God, stood up from dinner and removed His outer garments. He then wrapped Himself in a towel, poured water in a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His towel.

Simon Peter (as Jesus approaches): Lord, are You going to wash my feet?

Jesus: Peter, you don’t realize what I am doing, but you will understand later.

Peter: You will not wash my feet, now or ever!

Jesus: If I don’t wash you, you will have nothing to do with Me.

Peter: Then wash me but don’t stop with my feet. Cleanse my hands and head as well.

Jesus: Listen, anyone who has bathed is clean all over except for the feet. But I tell you this, not all of you are clean.

Within pain and filth, there is an opportunity to extend God’s kingdom through an expression of love, humility, and service. This simple act of washing feet is a metaphor for how the world looks through the lens of Jesus’ grace. He sees the people—the world He created—which He loves. He also sees the filthy corruption in the world that torments everyone. His mission is to cleanse those whom He loves from those horrors. This is His redemptive work with feet, families, disease, famine, and hearts.

When Jesus sees disease, He sees the opportunity to heal. When He sees sin, He sees a chance to forgive and redeem. When He sees dirty feet, He sees a chance to wash them.

He knew the one with plans of betraying Him, which is why He said, “not all of you are clean.” After washing their feet and picking up His garments, He reclined at the table again.

Jesus: Do you understand what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and truly, that is who I am. So if your Lord and Teacher washes your feet, then you should wash one another’s feet. I am your example; keep doing what I do. I tell you the truth: a servant is not greater than the master. Those who are sent are not greater than the one who sends them. If you know these things, and if you put them into practice, you will find happiness.

Upon Judas’s departure, Jesus spoke:

Jesus: Now the Son of Man will be glorified as God is glorified in Him. If God’s glory is in Him, His glory is also in God. The moment of this astounding glory is imminent. My children, My time here is brief. You will be searching for Me; and as I told the Jews, “You cannot go where I am going.” So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.

Categories: john

Holy Week Wednesday New Testament Reading

Hebrews 12:1-3

So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us.

We may feel alone, but we aren’t. We are surrounded by an army of witnesses. They have run the race of faith and finished well. It is now our turn.

Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor.

Consider the life of the One who endured such personal attacks and hostility from sinners so that you will not grow weary or lose heart (The Voice).

Categories: Holy Week

Passover: Exodus 12

Perhaps the best way to look at the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh is as a contest to see who truly is God. In Egypt Pharaoh is considered a god. He has certain powers and abilities, and the might of Egypt resides with him. When Moses and Aaron appear before him to demand the release of the Hebrew slaves, each refusal becomes an occasion for the True God to demonstrate His superiority over Pharaoh and all the other gods of Egypt. Each successive miracle attacks deeper into the heart of Pharaoh’s power and politics. Slowly but surely, Pharaoh’s power is subverted until God breaks Pharaoh’s grip on the people of Israel completely. With the final miracle everything begins to unravel: the death of the firstborn is personal for Pharaoh.

Eternal One (to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt): Mark this month as the first month of all months for you—the first month of your year. Declare this message to the entire community of Israel: “When the tenth day of this month arrives, every family is to select a lamb, one for each household. If there aren’t enough people in the family to eat an entire lamb, then they should share a lamb with their nearest neighbor according to how many people are in the neighbor’s family. Divide the portions of the lamb so that each person has enough to eat. Choose a one-year-old male that is intact and free of blemishes; you can take it from the sheep or the goats. Keep this chosen lamb safe until the fourteenth day of the month, then the entire community of Israel will slaughter their lambs together at twilight. They are to take some of its blood and smear it across the top and down the two sides of the doorframe of the houses where they plan to eat. That night, have them roast the lamb over a fire and feast on it along with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. Do not eat any meat raw or boil it in water; only eat the meat after the entire animal has been roasted over a fire with its head, legs, and intestines attached. Eat whatever you can, but don’t leave any of it until morning; whatever is left over in the morning burn in the fire. Here is how I want you to eat this meal: Be sure you are dressed and ready to go at a moment’s notice—with sandals on your feet and a walking stick in your hand. Eat quickly because this is My Passover.

I am going to pass through the land of Egypt during the night and put to death all their firstborn children and animals. I will also execute My judgments against all the gods of the Egyptians, for I am the Eternal One! The blood on the doorframes of your houses will be a sign of where you are. When I pass by and see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague will not afflict you when I strike the land of Egypt with death.

This will be a day for you to always remember. I want you and all generations after you to commemorate this day with a festival to Me. Celebrate this feast as a perpetual ordinance, a permanent part of your life together. You are to eat bread made without yeast for seven days. On the first day get rid of any yeast you find in your house. Anyone who eats bread made with yeast during the seven festival days must be cut off from the rest of Israel. On the first day of the festival and again on the seventh, gather the community together for a time of sacred worship. No one may work on those two days except to prepare what every person needs to eat. Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread because it commemorates the day that I led your forces out of Egypt. Honor and celebrate this day throughout all your generations as a perpetual ordinance, a permanent part of your life together. From the evening of the fourteenth day of that first month to the evening of the twenty-first day of that month, eat bread made without yeast. No yeast is to be found in any of your houses during the seven festival days. Whoever eats anything that has yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. It doesn’t matter whether he is a foreigner or a native; the same standards apply. During the seven festival days, do not eat anything made with yeast; wherever you live and gather together, be sure you eat only unleavened bread.

Then Moses called all of Israel’s elders together and gave them instructions.

Moses: Go and pick out lambs for each of your families, and then slaughter your family’s Passover lamb. Take a handful of hyssop branches, dip them down into the bowl of blood you drained from the sacrifice, and mark the top of the doorway and the two doorposts with blood from the bowl. After you do this, no one should go out that door until the next morning.

The Eternal will pass through the land during the night and bring death to the Egyptians. But when He sees the blood-markings across the tops of your doorways and down your two doorposts, He will pass over your houses and not allow His messenger of death to enter into your houses and strike you down. You and all your descendants are obligated to keep these instructions for all time. Even after you arrive in the land the Eternal has promised you—the land flowing with milk and honey—you must keep these instructions and perform this ritual. When your children ask you, “What does this ritual mean to you?” you will answer them, “It is the Passover sacrifice to the Eternal, for He passed over the houses of the Israelites when we were slaves in Egypt. And although He struck the Egyptians, He spared our lives and our houses.”

The name of this festival, “Passover,” comes from the fact that God “passes over” those houses where the Israelites gather and eat the sacrifice.

When Moses finished these instructions, the people bowed down and worshiped.

The Israelites went and did as they were instructed; they were obedient to what the Eternal had commanded Moses and Aaron.

Now this is what happened: at midnight, He struck down all the firstborn sons in Egypt—from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne, to the firstborn son of the prisoners locked in the dungeon, and even the firstborn of all the livestock in the land. Pharaoh woke up during the night. He wasn’t the only one. His servants, as well as all of the Egyptians in the land, had awoken. A great scream shattered the night in Egypt, for there was not a single Egyptian house where someone was not dead.

Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron before the night was over.

Pharaoh (to Moses and Aaron): Get up and get out. Leave my people right now—you and all the rest of the Israelites. Go and worship this god of yours, the Eternal One, just as you have said. Take your flocks and your herds as well with you—just as you said—and go! But bless me on your way out!

Pharaoh hates to admit he has been beaten by Moses and his God. After losing his firstborn son—destined to be the next Pharaoh—he has little choice.

The Egyptians frantically urged the people of Israel to hurry and leave their land.

Egyptians (imploring): If you do not leave soon, we will all be dead.

So the Israelites hurried. They took their bread dough before any yeast had been added, packed up their kneading bowls, wrapped them in some of their clothing, and carried them on their shoulders.

The people of Israel also did what Moses had told them to do; they asked the Egyptians for items made of silver and gold, and they asked for extra clothing as well. The Eternal caused the Egyptians to have a favorable attitude toward His people, so the Egyptians fulfilled these requests and gave the people what they asked for. This is how the Israelites stripped the Egyptians of their valued possessions.

For many years the Egyptians stripped the people of Israel of their lives, labor, and dignity. God’s justice demands that Israel be paid for all they lost.

The Israelites left and traveled from Rameses to Succoth. There were about 600,000 men, plus all the women and children. Another crowd, made up of various and sundry peoples, accompanied them, as well as herds, flocks, and a great number of livestock. They baked flat bread along the way from the dough without yeast which they carried with them from Egypt. The dough had no yeast because the people had been rushed out of Egypt, and they did not have enough time to gather food supplies for themselves.

The Israelites had lived in the land of Egypt for a total of 430 years. On the last day of their 430th year, all the forces belonging to the Eternal left the land of Egypt. This was the night when the Eternal kept watch over His people and brought them safely out of the land of Egypt; now this night is to be kept by His people, to be celebrated by all of the people of Israel throughout all generations.

Eternal One (to Moses and Aaron): This is the requirement for Passover: no foreigner or outsider should eat this meal. But every slave bought with money may participate in this celebration if he has been initiated into the community by circumcision. No temporary residents or paid servants may share in it. The meal must be eaten in only one house. Don’t take any of the meat outside. Not one of the lamb’s bones shall be broken. The entire community of Israel must celebrate it. If you have outsiders living among you and they want to celebrate the Passover to the Eternal with you, then all the men must agree to be circumcised. Only after circumcision may they join in and celebrate with you; then you must treat them as if they were native-born. But make sure no uncircumcised male eats any part of the sacred meal. The same instruction applies to everyone equally—without distinction—the native as well as the outsider who is living among you.

Then all of the Israelites did exactly as the Eternal had instructed Moses and Aaron to do. On that same day, He led the Israelites as they marched out of the land of Egypt like an army (The Voice).

Categories: Passover
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