Wednesday, April 23, 2014

e-vo for week of April 23

Dearest e-votees-

This Sunday we visit again with Thomas wanting to experience the risen Christ as the other disciples had.

Some call him doubting. I find him earnest and zealous.



19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

John 20:19-31, NRSV

The disciples are post-Easter yet still afraid. They are lurking behind locked doors out of fear. I wonder "What doors do we crouch behind hoping to stay safe?" Jesus pushes through the obstacles and breathes peace and power into them. What a gift that Jesus gives to the disciples. I wonder "Is Jesus still willing to come through the obstacles we put in his way to bring reconciliation?" and "Is Jesus willing to empower us to reconcile as well through forgiveness?"

Thomas is gone (maybe fetching food and supplies for the survivalist disciples, who knows?). He returns and the disciples tell him what they have seen and heard. Thomas wants assurances too. He wants God's peace. He wants God's power. He wants to see the wounds the other disciples saw. He is not weak in the faith but strong in zeal and deeply earnest. Jesus grants Thomas' request.

The disciples were restored and empowered to give witness (including writing the book of the gospel) so that others might come to faith. We are among those who have not seen and yet have come to belief. Jesus calls us blessed.

God, draw us up into earnest zeal and help us be a blessing to others by passing along that which you have revealed to us. Amen.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

e-vo for Holy Week

Dearest e-votees-

My hope and prayer is that your Holy Week is full of worship, family, God and the glorious news of the empty tomb (and all the preceding events that make that news so glorious).

I have been pondering death quite a bit this year during Lent and Holy Week. It is, after all, the precursor to resurrection.



Ash Wednesday is how we start Lent with a focus on our broken lives, our sinful ways and our own mortality. We draw near to the garden realizing that the rebellion of Adam and Eve isn’t so far away but rather stares back at us whenever we look in a mirror. We are reminded of the curse of the garden: “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” In our own ways in this world we will end up nowhere but the grave.

Palm Sunday is when the people have hope that Jesus will put to death (literally or metaphorically) the oppressive Romans. They welcome Jesus in a makeshift conqueror’s parade. Jesus has come to be a king but one unlike those of the world. Ever since Saul God thought the idea of God’s people having a king was misguided. Now Jesus comes to put to death the expectation of a mighy military conquering king. The crowd has little tolerance for having their vision shifted and turns to cries of “Crucify, crucify!” all too quickly.

Maundy Thursday is when Jesus calls his disciples to love others by humbling themselves and washing feet. Pride and jockeying are to be drowned in the waters of the servant’s wash basin. Whoever wants to be great must be the servant of all. Jesus gives of his body and his blood to all present (betrayers, deniers, scatterers all). Jesus calls his followers to die to themselves and to take up the mantle of service as well.

Good Friday is when Jesus shows the full extent of his love by facing a grisly and unjust death for those who put him there. He prays for forgiveness and makes arrangements for his mother to stay with the disciple whom Jesus loved. He promises paradise to a condemned criminal. Jesus’ life is poured out for those who loved him and those who hated him. He enters fully into death that we might enter fully into life.

Easter is when the final deathblow is dealt – the death of death. With Jesus’ resurrection (not rescuscitation like Lazarus or Jairus’ daughter) death no longer has its grips on Jesus. And we are brought into that glorious good news as well. Jesus is alive. We too shall live. Alleluia! May your Easter celebration with worship, family, God and the glorious news of the empty tomb be blessed.

God, draw us through whatever deaths you must so that we may fully experience resurrection life. Amen and Alleluia!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

e-vo for week of April 9

Dearest e-votees-

For the Wednesdays of Lent at Christ the Good Shepherd this year we have been using the epistle texts from the preceding Sunday in our midweek worship.

Blessings on your experience of the tail end of Lent this year and your experience of Holy Week.

This week's lesson comes from Paul's letter to the church at Rome, the 8th chapter.



6 To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law—indeed it cannot, 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

9 But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Romans 8:6-11, NRSV

There is a set of cross currents the flow throughout scripture:

God blows life and power into the dust.

Those who are blessed and equipped go their own way leading to death, disempowerment and returning to the dust.

In the garden God forms the first humans from dirt and blows the breath of God into them. Soon after the first couple chooses to go their own way, to seek the knowledge of good and evil, to seek to become like God. And in so doing they unleash mortality and a journey back towards the dust.

God chooses a people and makes promises to them. They are blessed with laws and prophets to guide them and to bring life and power into their community. But the people choose their own ways. They fashion idols out of their jewelry and demand a king like all of the surrounding communities. They find themselves literally and metaphorically dying. They return to piles of dusty bones.

So God take Ezekiel out into the desert and shows him a sampling of such bones. God sends breath into the refleshed bones and life returns. God promises that graves will be opened and that the people will be brought out. Yet the message doesn't seem to take so well. The people continue to choose dusty paths and deadly paths.

Jesus comes into the world breathing life and hope into the people. He teaches as one with authority and bears the Holy Spirit (God's breath) in a new and compelling way. Life and power are unleashed on a dusty people. Yet some cannot tolerate the gracious and life-giving ways of Jesus. And they kill him on a stake and seal him in a tomb. Now all is left to do is to wait for him to return to dust.

The disciples know they are done for and lurk behind locked doors awaiting their similar fate. Jesus comes into the dusty room through the walls and breathes into them the Holy Spirit. Sinful, dusty, dead and broken people tried their best to drag Jesus down with them but he would not stay dead. Jesus is alive and well and loose in the world. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us and all believers. God has sent the deciding gust in Pentecost. Our flesh, our Old Adam and Old Eve, may yet be of dust and heading towards the grave but our renewed flesh, our New Adam and New Eve, are surely part of the resurrection promise hinted at for all these years and decisively delivered in the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord. Thanks be to God.

God, blow into us and through us. Amen.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

e-vo for week of April 2

Dearest e-votees-

For the Wednesdays of Lent at Christ the Good Shepherd this year we are using the epistle texts from the preceding Sunday in our midweek worship.

For e-vos we will be doing the same thing. Blessings on your experience of Lent this year.

This week's lesson comes from Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, the 5th chapter.



8 For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— 9 for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. 10 Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13 but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:8-14, NRSV

This text draws us into a world of opposites:

darkness vs. light

absence of light vs. presence of light

what is hidden vs. what is revealed

what is false vs. what is true

what is unrighteous vs. what is righteous

broken rebellion vs. restored relationship

Jesus, the light of the world, comes into our dark world to reveal, to make known, to expose, to call out, to summon forth, to evidence, etc., etc.

Our old Adams and old Eves scurry for the edges and the crannies and the crevices like the spiritual cockroaches they are.

Jesus shines light into us, onto us and through us. We are to be like the moon reflecting the sun; we are to be reflecting the Son.

When the light catches the eye of another the hope and prayer is that, like Matthew 5:16, they might see the light and give glory to God in heaven.

Jesus, who is God, has come to reveal God. We, who are Jesus', are sent to reveal God. May it be so in our lives.

God, shine, shine, shine. Amen.