Pieta
2009-04-10 by David von Schlichten

For thirty-three years, I have studied the hands of God.

I am Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Amid the animal and hay smells on that chilly night, I held that baby close to me.

He stared up at me, occasionally blinking, the eyes of the Messiah.


Through the years, I prayed hard, “Please, God, help me to be a good mother.”

And the Holy Spirit did indeed use my hands. I cleaned up his barf and poop.

I held his hands as he tried to walk on his own.

I'd shake my finger at him when he would bring home a sheep

and want to keep it as a pet. “Can we, Mom? I'll take care of it.”


Joe and I watched with hushed amazement

as Jesus grew taller, stronger, smarter,

as he hammered and sawed wood,

as he taught teachers.

He had crushes on the local girls,

and we hoped he would marry one of them. That never happened.


I recall my son, now an adult, standing naked in the river and John

shoving him under with huge, hairy hands.

And my son set out to start a revolution, humble and bold.

He blessed and broke some boy's lunch and then fed thousands of people with it.

He took a dead girl by the hand and raised her to life.


Last night, my son used his hands to break and pass bread.

He used his hands to pass the cup. “Take this, all of you. Never forget.”


Today, I saw my son, the one I raised with my own hands, . . . .

I saw the nails –

I saw him hang in front of me.

I heard him scream.

Do you know what it is like to watch your child die,

knowing there is nothing you can do?


Now his body is down from the cross.

I hold him in my arms, a mother's pitiful piety.

Look what they did to my boy.

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?

Surely this terrible Friday cannot be the end.

Surely there is more work for my baby's hands to do.





If Only
2009-04-10 by David Howell

If only Jesus had gone down the mountain after the transfiguration and headed back to Galilee.
 
If only he had been more discreet in his Sabbath healings.
 
If only his responses to the Pharisees had not been so biting and clever.
 
If only he had not been so indignant with the moneychangers in the temple.
 
If only Judas had understood the nature of his kingdom.
 
If only a rabbi sympathetic to Jesus had the ear of Caiaphas.
 
If only Pilate had not seen freeing Jesus as a way to assert his authority over the Sanhedrin.
 
If only he had not been scourged and mocked and suffered so horribly.
 
If only the fabric of events that led Jesus inexorably to die on the cross had not been so perfectly woven.
 
If only… then this would not be the Friday that is good, that breaks our heart year after year to reveal just how deeply we are loved by the holy.


John Sutton




GP Seminarian Sermon Voting Extended to April 15
2009-04-08 by David Howell

The top three vote recipients are:

They have prepared YouTube versions of the sermons. Click on the links above. After viewing all 3 sermons, please vote for one sermon here. If you do not have the code, please email us at office@goodpreacher.com. Subscribers (who are logged on) can get the password here.

Please vote on or before April 15 (extended from April 8).

Also we have a new recipe in the Divine Cuisine.





Fred Rose, Christ Dying and Rising
2009-04-08 by David von Schlichten

Thank you to guest blogger Fred Rose for his fecund blog posts. Please scroll down to take them in. Among other things, Fred calls us to reorient ourselves toward loving one another as Christ has loved us and to move away from the mean-spiritedness and silliness that we often slog around in.

For Good Friday, I will focus on "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" I will paint the picture of people in different situations crying these words and Jesus responding with his own cry coupled with the healing power of the cross.  I will post my sermon at the cafe shortly.

Yours in Christ,

David von Schlichten, Lectionary Blog Moderator 





Where I am with resurrection and John 20 these days
2009-04-08 by Fred Rose

One of the ways I get at this passage is in considering some of those I have lost. I have a friend who died several years ago. If he were to appear in a dream and call my name, I would know his voice and the way he said it. My father died over twelve years ago. He used to have a nickname he would call me. Occasionally, in the middle of a worship service, I remember his voice and I will smile not because of some  truth ingested or a sound or phrase that touches my soul.  I  smile for just being grateful for my father having been my father to me. My mother died over two years ago. Though she had no nicknames for me, she spoke my name in a certain way. To remember her voice and the times she and I shared the last years of life is precious. She was always my mother and my friend. I miss her. When I read in this John 20 account of Jesus calling Mary by name, I know what my name sounds like when it is said by certain people...even people in my past. I look forward to the day and believe there will be a day when I will again give my parents a hug and walk with my friend, David.

 

What is the resurrection? It is the best of life coming from the worst of life. It is Jesus being raised from the worst human beings do to encourage us with the best God has for us. It is the hope of God. It is hope that this life, this reality, these things that keep attaching themselves to me, this is not all there is. It is hope that good will triumph over wrong. It is the hope of eternity, the hope of God’s promises. It is the hope that God will set things right and I will not be devastated by it. It is the joy of life regained, renewed, revivified, reclaimed, reconstructed, rebuilt. It is the peace of God which passes our understanding. If we can believe or if we are able to believe God raised Jesus from the dead and somehow really consider it a reality, its fact offers a certain peace against all the confusion and corruption and noise of this life. It is an unimaginable act of the love of God who shows us what is truly important. It is not a way of life recovered; it is a person, a relationship, a friendship. It is God’s recreating the life of his Son so that in our believing in this Son and in the events of his life, we are recreated too. Resurrected too?

 

I met a poet several years ago, Judith Deem Dupree, who gave me a collection of her poems entitled living with what remains.  (Quiddity Press, Pine Valley, CA, 2004) In her poem, “A Story,” she tells creation’s tale and at the end says this:

Well, here we are.

Finally, us---out of nothing!

Much more than nothing, I would say.

But one day He will suck His breath back in, 

perhaps, perhaps.

Will He swallow all our lies?

Will He choke on us? Spit us out?

 

Yes, we will return without our toys,

because our souls are meant to rise unfettered

by all the small stuff---our fortunes and fatuities---

to find that Hole in the Gate that He left for us.

 

He named it, I understand, The Eye of the Needle.

And this is the end of the story.

 

Or the real beginning.

I believe it.   (Dupree,47)                           

 I  include another of her poems here. For me, Easter  can only sometimes be addressed with another medium like music and poetry. Surely the Easter story is narrative, but it is an other wordly kind of narrative.Here is another of her poems that Easter calls to my attention: 

“The One True Thing”

                                  

Believe in what you always knew.

It has not forgotten you.

Call it back to you: it will come out of hiding.

Coax it patiently.

Like a wild thing caught in a snare,

it will observe you guardedly---

examine you for the scent of guile.

 

Behold it—this sudden stranger

to your patterned thought,

this outcast waiting quietly at the fringe.

                                               

Do not measure it.

Open your arms and

receive the weight of it in your narrow grasp.

Hold steady---it will grow feather-light in time.

Let it tell you everything it knows.

Everything. Listen.

 

Live with it, perhaps uncomfortably,

until you are conformed,

until your face in the mirror crinkles

with a shaft of delight

and speaks back to you in a beautiful new tongue---

and you know at last who you are and why.

 

Now you are ready to brave the world.

Now you are ready to save it.          (Dupree, 87)

 

What if we cannot believe this resurrection story? What if we do not have a resurrection faith...whatever that is? What if it seems too far-fetched? Too much to swallow? Too good to be true? Too much fairy tale and not enough reality? What if we cannot somehow simply accept the basis of all this Easter celebration? Can’t we simply remain with the church? Cannot we not find a way to hang around and check out this Easter faith in the lives of those who claim to believe it? Or can we not come occasionally and check out  these people who believe? Or is there something else we need to check out? Can we not join somebody in  ministry or study and ask our questions and do something new? What difference does it really make to us, to me, to my family, to the world if we believe in Easter…if we believe Jesus was in truth raised from the dead?

 

Or is it our very  best approach to life to set aside worship and organized Christianity for another eight months until December comes around? We can drag ourselves back into this strange company another time. Is this our best idea? Is this about being honest with ourselves? Is this what “being honest” means? Is there any other reality than our own effort at being honest?





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