The Smiling Heretic's Blog

Easter :: Christ is Risen Indeed!

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Matthew 28.1-10

This past week has certainly run the gamut of emotional overload, huh?

We started the week off with Jesus entering Jerusalem to the cheers of disciples and followers, who had hoped he would be the one to restore Israel to its former glory. At the Passover, Jesus broke bread and shared wine with his close circle of friends, inaugurating a new rite that would become the cornerstone of worship for generations to come. Soon, though, he was betrayed by one of those friends, handed over to the religious and civil authorities, brought before the governor, whipped in public, and shamelessly crucified. For what? Promoting insurrection? Claiming to be God? For challenging the status quo?

And we, the faithful, have walked with Jesus every step of the way, our initial cheers on the dusty road leading to Jerusalem quickly turning to shouts of “Crucify! Crucify him!.” He challenged the status quo for us, too.

Palm Sunday :: Who is this?

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Matthew 21.1-11

Remember the old Lone Ranger shows on TV? Some nefarious cowboy would wreak havoc on an unsuspecting town and The Lone Ranger would ride in to save the day, “Hi-Ho-Silver-ing” all the way. He’d wrassle the varmit, rescue the damsel, and save the town for yet another day. Invariably after these heroics, some townsperson would ask, “Who was that masked man?” And, just as invariably, shoulders would shrug, the people not really knowing who he was. Zip-Zap, he came and went, doing his daring deeds of good. He didn’t even stick around long enough for people to thank him.

At times it seems these are the kind of heroics we expect of Jesus. He’ll come swooping into our lives at the utmost point of need, right whatever wrong he finds, and then swoop right back out. We’d cheer him, of course. Maybe we’d even line the streets, shout a few “Hosannas,” and wave our flags. Jesus, the avenging Son of God! Save us!

Lent 5 :: The dead are raised

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John 11.1-45

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

In twenty four years of parish ministry, I have been privileged to be with many people as they passed from this life to life eternal. “Privileged” is a good word here, for death can be a holy undertaking, and those present when a loved one or friend passes are cloaked in holy time. As the Spirit which brings life leaves the body, a new life emerges: a life of eternal glory in the presence of the One who overcame death and the grave. Now, certainly not all death is holy. Violent, horrible, painful death is anything but holy and, as such, is difficult to witness. But if we believe that the Holy Spirit of God encompasses all things, as “wind blow[ing] where it may,” even violent death occurs in the midst of that which is holy.

Lent 4 :: Judge a book by its content

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John 9.1-41

How well I remember that spring day in 9th grade science class. We had just been given the week’s Science Weekly Reader, a newspaper specifically geared toward young, budding science students. On the front page was an article about a new acne treatment, complete with a “before” and “after” picture of a teenage boy who had received the “miracle” cure. His “before” picture was pretty much what you’d expect: a young face pockmarked with acne scars, blackheads, and zits. The “after” shot showed a smiling young man with baby-smooth skin. The transformation was miraculous, if not hard to believe.

As I was reading an article about something-or-other, two girls sitting behind me called out to me to turn around. They held the front-page acne article up and began comparing the “before” picture with my face! Giggling to themselves, they suggested I might want to try the cure.

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