Easter Day Reflection, 2018


Social change is often derailed because powerful people place their own status and wealth above the needs of others. That’s the dynamic that killed Jesus.

Jesus came preaching the Rule of God; that is, he was seeking a way of life that is in accord with God’s intention for the world. In this way of life, everyone receives daily bread, healing is available to all, and dignity is the birthright of all people. The Romans, who exercised civil rule over Israel, could not accept the way of Jesus. It threatened their position of power, prestige, and superiority; thus, Jesus had to be stopped.

Jesus was also working to build a religious community based on respect, forgiveness, mercy, and love. He wanted a Temple that was truly a place of prayer for all people, not a means through which the religious elite manipulated others. He wanted teaching and practice that flowed with grace, not condemnation. Jerusalem’s religious leaders could not accept what Jesus was doing. His way threatened their positions of prestige, power, and superiority; thus, Jesus needed to be stopped.

The religious and civil leaders wanted Jesus out of the way. To do that, they misrepresented his teaching, made up stories about him, bribed one of his followers, and executed him. That’s how people of power and prestige sometimes respond to attempts at making a safer and more equitable world. For a time, they succeed. But only for a time. For Christ is risen, and with his resurrection, the Spirit of God is unleashed.

And when that Spirit is unleashed, says the prophet Joel, “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” (Joel 3:28)

And the prophet Isaiah speaks of reconciliation among enemies, saying, “the wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

And the teenager Mary, filled with God’s Spirit, said, “The Lord has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1:51b-53)

Christ is risen! Alleluia! He is risen from the dead!

And because he lives, young and old together work for the kind of world he desires, a world of peace and non-violence, a world in which love conquers hate, and a world in which healing and grace abundantly flow.

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Lent Devotion, Thursday, March 15, 2018


During his time in the wilderness, Mark tells us that Jesus “was with the wild beasts.” These are ambiguous words. On the one hand, they may represent danger and threat; the presence of the beasts is a sign of the danger Jesus faces.

On the other hand, they may be a sign of hope and reconciliation, meant to recall words of the prophet Isaiah: “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:6-9)

Whichever way we interpret the words, they are helpful. We are in the midst of many dangers; there are times of insecurity and threat. But in the danger, Christ is with us, leading us into a future when all things will be made new, the broken will be mended, and enemies will become friends.

Dear God, we are sometimes afraid. You have sent your Son to give us a hope transcending our fears. Pour your Spirit upon us and grant us your gift of peace among all peoples. Amen.

Lent Devotion, Monday, March 12, 2018


For the past several days, we’ve been focused on the story of Jesus’ baptism. It’s a story that involves water, the word of God, and a dove. These three also appear in the flood story told in the book of Genesis.

God speaks to Noah and says, “Build a large boat, so that you and your family, along with every kind of species, may be saved.” Noah obeys, and the flood comes. When the rains had stopped, Noah let a dove fly free. The dove found no place to land, so it returned to the boat. Seven days later, Noah again sent out the dove. This time it returned with an olive branch in its beak; the flood waters were beginning to recede. Seven days later, the dove again went out, and this time it did not return; it had found a place to land.

The dove has become a symbol of peace. In the story of Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit descends on Jesus like a dove. Thus we might say, “In Jesus, we see God at work, making peace between God and people, as well as calling us to work for an end to conflict.”

Gracious God, you desire that we live peacefully with you and with one another. Send your Spirit upon us, that we may follow the way of your Son, the Prince of Peace. Amen.