Written by Pastor Mark
WooooHoooooo!!!!!!!!! The irritating season of pruning is over, and it’s time for new life! During the season of Easter we will be using Barbara Brown Taylor’s Book, “An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith”. In her book she talks a great deal about reverence. We think of reverence as more of a theological word, but Brown Taylor points to creation, and the stars and at other flawed human beings and is filled with reverence. We would do well to emulate her vision.
The point of reverence, and of the Holy Spirit for that matter, is that it keeps popping up where we least expect it. Peter is shocked in today’s first reading to discover that the Spirit of Christ has been at work in the Greeks! (Substitute your own group who would be least likely in your mind to be visited by that Spirit.) Truly God does not show any partiality. Furthermore, God is loose in the world and active—without US! We are called by Brown Taylor and others to discover where God is already moving and active, not carry God on our backs to share.
Courtney and I had a tongue in cheek conversation about the theme for Easter. We have both experienced Easter Worship where the resurrection was never mentioned! Hard to believe, but true. That is not to say that we don’t have questions and doubts. Our Questions and doubts put us in very good company. The most authentic versions of Mark’s Gospel end with a thud. The disciples run from the tomb and say nothing to anyone because they are afraid. It didn’t take too long for someone to come along and fix the ending. That this is probably how Mark wrote it should bring us some comfort and solace in our doubts. Martin Luther said it’s fine to doubt, but at some point you have to learn to doubt your doubts and believe. We also need to keep our eyes open for where God is working, and ask for help in overcoming our fear.
New life will be breaking out all over the place any day. Go out and really look at it, and allow yourself to be filled with reverence. It’s so much better than fear.
Quotes for the Week
Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.
Karl Augustus Menninger
Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.
The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.
All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears—of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before a Rotary Club, and of the words, “Some assembly Required.”
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
1st Lesson: Acts 10:34-43 (NRSV)
Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ– he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Gospel Lesson: Mark 16:1-8 (NRSV)
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Questions for the Week
Where do you see new life coming forth from pruned places in your life?
Where do you least expect to run in to Jesus, or the Holy Spirit?
What fills you with reverence?