Archives For Resurrection

“It is appointed once for a person to die. After this the judgment.” -Hebrews 9:27

“But this is the hour—when darkness reigns.” -Jesus

The Orvillecopter by Dutch artist Jansen flies in central Amsterdam as part as the KunstRAI art festivalI don’t know if you saw this story last year, and if not, I’m sorry to do this to you. Because you can’t unknow this. Last year, Bart Jansen woke up to find his long-time pet cat “Wilbur” was dead. And that was unacceptable for Mr. Jansen. So he did what anyone of us would have done. He turned his dead pet into a helicopter.

He combined the fine art of taxidermy and small engine motors. And now Wilbur had been given wings…

As a preacher, I’ve done a lot of funerals and one of the things that I’ve noticed is how uncomfortable most people are during these times. I think it’s the same reason Bart put wings on his dead cat, or why the taxidermy industry exists at all. We don’t like to be reminded of death, and funerals are the reminder of the ultimate reality that we can’t escape.

And this is precisely why we need moments like Ash Wednesday.

Now I know for some of the readers of this blog, Ash Wednesday may sound a bit too Catholic. And I get that. Growing up, I was under the impression that all things Catholic were suspect.

My parents wouldn’t even let me be friends with girls named Mary.

But Ash Wednesday was going on long before Protestants and Catholics ever split. It’s an annual reminder that Christians have observed every year, for thousands of years It’s when we remember that from dust we came and to dust we will return. It is profoundly ancient and biblical.

Think about Job for a second. Do you remember what Job does when he hears the news about his family tragically dying? He covers himself in ashes.

We are all Job

In his famous sermon on the book of Job, Jonathan Edwards pointed out that all of our stories will one day be like Job’s. Sure Job lost everything in one day while most of us experience these losses more slowly. But rest assured one day each of us will be on the door of death, leaving everything behind.

James Stockdale was a war-hero and POW during the Vietnam war. He had lived through the underbelly of the human condition and wound up becoming an admiral, and eventually ran with Ross Perot for the Vice-President. When they asked him about the other POW’s who didn’t survive he always said the same thing:

“Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter’ And then Easter would come and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving and then it would be Christmas again. One by one, they died of a broken heart.”

I understand why we want to ignore death, why we pretend it’s something that just happens to other people. But there is a reason that the church has practiced Ash Wednesday for so long. Because eventually optimism is really hard to keep someone’s faith going.

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End of the World pictureSo tomorrow is the day that the world is supposed to end. For over a thousand years, the Mayans have scheduled every day on their calendar.

And today is the last one.

I remember the first time I heard about this passive-aggressive prediction. It was eerie and freaky, and I totally believed it. I had all these images from the movies I’ve seen about the end of the world flash through my mind. There were volcanoes and lava or earthquakes and asteroids (there’s always an asteroid isn’t there?), and then finally at the last minute Will Smith comes in and saves the world.

Those are the images we’ve been handed for how to think about the end of the world.

And I think they’re wrong.

So it’s Christmas time. And for a lot of us that means shopping and parties and eggnog. But if you’re afraid of the end of the world tomorrow, than I think Christmas can really bless you today. Another word for the Christmas season is Advent. And Advent is just the Latin word for “Coming” It’s the idea that Jesus came into the world, and that he will one day soon come into the world again.

Advent is about the longing that is in every human heart, a desire, an ache that we all share for things to be different, for there to be no more cancer, or school shootings. It’s a hope for the world to be made new.

At the heart of Advent is the recognition that something is missing.

And Christmas reminds us that this something is really a someone.

I’m preaching this Sunday on a text from 1st Peter that has really captured my imagination the past few weeks. I rarely blog about what I’m about to preach on, but since enough people think that the end of the world just might happen tomorrow, I wanted to share a word of hope that might bless you this Christmas.

When Jesus first met Peter, he was a rough-around-the-edges fisherman. He was impulsive. He was a racist, he was a self-promoting, fearful bigot. In other words, he was a human. And Jesus found Peter, trained him and taught him for years. Peter betrayed, annoyed, and refused Jesus. And Jesus just kept pushing into Peter’s life. Jesus forgives again and again, he piles grace upon grace for Peter.

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On March 1, 2012

What Plagues Us All

I’ve been in ministry long enough to know each of us brings our own unique sets of brokenness to the table. And that we each try to pretend that it isn’t there. So we discover ways of emphasizing our strengths and talents and ignoring our flaws, but in our quieter moments we know just how deeply broken we each are. And Revelation is telling us that what is true of us on the inside, is true at a cosmic level as well.

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On October 4, 2011

Christians and Pleasure

Frederick Buechner once said “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.” I think that’s exactly right. Christians are at their best when they have one foot in the suffering of this world, and one foot in their hope for the next. They suffer with the world today and celebrate with the world to come.

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On April 26, 2011

The Finger Is a Gun

Tina Fey’s new book BossyPants, has a fantastic chapter where she talks about working with improv class. She says it’s more than just a way of comedy, it’s a worldview. This is what that means:

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On April 21, 2011

The Groans of Creation

This is the holiest week of the Christian calendar. It’s the week where we celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But this holy season comes on the heels of some of the worst natural disasters in recent history. It seems that the world is starting to come unraveled. So what does this week have to say about that?

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On April 13, 2011

A New Beginning

A blog re-post from Rob Bell about how he came to be a pastor. It’s a story about redemption, and dead end’s that turn into 2nd chances. And it has nothing to do with Hell.

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On February 25, 2011

Denying the Resurrection

I love this. Peter Rollins is quite the controversial figure. And while his introduction may leave some of your feeling a bit uncomfortable, I’d like to challenge you to listen past the surface of what he’s saying. It is after all a Parable.

What I love about this is they way it moves from Theology to something tangible. Ideas, after all, are empty if they just stay in our head. And to move from word to flesh is very central to the Gospel.

So here’s the question: How do you affirm the resurrection in your life? How have you denied it?  Continue Reading…

On October 4, 2010

Eucatastrophe

Last year I read the Lord of the Rings for the first time. I had a feeling that I would like the books, but I never wanted to be “that guy.” It kind of seemed like a slippery slope. One minute I’m reading about Frodo, and the next I’m wearing a Star Trek uniform and talking to guy who owns the local Comic book store about the Borg.

I was wrong. Continue Reading…

On August 2, 2010

Love Never Fails

The word Love is the most overused word in the English language. We love Honda’s, our parents, and Sloppy Joe’s. But the Biblical vision of what Love means is actually much more complex, difficult…and beautiful.

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