The Smiling Heretic's Blog

Easter Day :: Christ is Risen!

Lighting the way

“...and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” [Mark 16.8]

Seems somewhat strange, don’t you think, that Mary Magdalene and her two companions would keep quiet about what they had witnessed that first Easter morning? Arriving at the place where their friend Jesus had been buried barely two days earlier, they found an amazing sight: the huge stone at the tomb entrance had been rolled back and standing by the side was a strange man dressed in white. What’s more, this man told them that Jesus was not there. His place was empty, nothing but the burial linens remained!

The other Gospellers—Matthew, Luke, and John—all indicate that the women [they each have different lists of which women] ran to tell the others. But Mark, who was the first to write an account of Jesus’ life and ministry and who penned the term Gospel—meaning Good News—ended his story before the women had a chance to tell anyone the Good News. Amazing! He has them running away in fear and amazement.

Good Friday :: Get out yer shovels!

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Well here we are, shovels at the ready, eager to see this man-who-would-be-king dead and buried.

And yet, how can we—how can I—still cry out for blood when he is there, silent? He says nothing. At least he doesn’t respond to our taunts and vilification. In the grip of pain and agony his concern is not for revenge—after all, at any time he could’ve called on God to stop all this and rain down fire from heaven. His concern is for his mother, that she be taken care of. He asks for a little something to assuage his thirst. Aside from his last words, "It is finished," this is all he says.

But he needn’t say much. His actions make him known. This innocent, sacrificial Lamb of God, has taken away the sins of the world. He forgives even those who killed him. And as difficult as it may be to understand why his death affected this forgiveness of sin, something much more is going on.

Palm [or is it Passion?] Sunday

For almost two millennia, Christian pilgrims have journeyed to the Holy City of Jerusalem to re-enact the events of the last week in the life of Jesus. Beginning with his celebrated entrance into Jerusalem amid shouts of “Hosanna Lord, Hosanna!” and progressing through the Last Supper, betrayal and arrest, Golgotha, and empty tomb, Christian faithful from throughout the world have traced the steps of our Lord that fateful week.

Here at home, we must rely on ritualized acts of worship to commemorate Jesus’ last days. We wave palm fronds, wash one another’s feet and the Holy Altar, hear dramatic readings of the Passion, attend vigil before the Blessed Sacrament, pray at the foot of a cross, and keep watch as we await what we know has already occurred, the Resurrection of our Savior. In all of these ceremonies of worship, the gathered community rehearses salvation history, hearing once again the stories of God’s love for humanity despite our resistance to accept that love.

Lent 5 :: "We wish to see Jesus!"

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“We wish to see Jesus.”

I recall visiting a church one Sunday many years ago while on holiday. The presider and celebrant that morning was the Rector-Emeritus of the congregation. The worship was lively, with well-known, upbeat music [yes this was an Episcopal Church!] led by a small choir of silver-haired seniors. It was nice for me to not be “up front,” as it were, and I looked forward to hearing the Good News preached by a priest with over forty years experience leading a congregation.

When it came time for the sermon, the priest ascended the steps to the pulpit and I descended into the depths of apoplexy! He began with a diatribe against the heretical bishops of the Episcopal Church who were intent on driving the church into the abyss of Hell! Their positions on the ordination of women and gay clergy and conversations around same-sex unions were nothing short of blasphemy that the devil himself [yes, to this priest, the devil and God are both unmistakably MALE] was using to bring down all of Christendom!

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