4.22.2012

THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER Year B




It is interesting to see the ways folks work to make sense of things.

Similar to last week's readings, this week we see a range of reactions to the resurrection of Jesus. And this week, it feels a bit like watching a variety of news reporters all working to make sense of the same event.

And like our variety of news outlets today, everyone comes at it with their particular view, audience, and interest in mind.

Looking at them is as close to chronological order as we can, first we see a pretty straight forward first person account of the resurrection in the gospel of Luke. Jesus himself is present and is making sure every one at the scene is getting accurate information about has happened. After having a snack with them and letting them pinch him and such, he reminds them "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you--that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled. Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day,and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."  In this scene Jesus is doing his best to make sure the disciples put the pieces together of all that they have experienced and witnessed.

The next account we get comes from book of Acts which many assume was written by the same writer that wrote the gospel of Luke. Even though this may have been the same reporter, he is reporting on a different scene that is separated from the resurrection by some space and time. In this scene, we find disciples still trying to share the good news of Jesus with folks. However, Peter is sort of putting his own spin on the message. He berates his listeners by emphasizing how they were the ones who handed Jesus over and who killed Jesus and how they were ignorant and such. Not necessarily the same note of "Feed my sheep" that Jesus left on, but we have to trust that Peter knew his audience and felt that an insulting scare tactic was the right approach. WE don't think it was, but evidently Peter thought it was the right way to relay the message.

And in the passage from 1 John (which we assume was written about 50-70 years after the community described in Acts) we find a much more reflective and narrative news piece. The writer of this passage has obviously had some time to think through the life of Jesus and hone in on what he sees as the primary message to be shared. It seems he wants his audience to understand the importance of simple obedience. He refers to the love of God the Father protecting and inviting us, the children of God, in to obedient relationship.

It is always important for us to pay attention to the context and audience of the passages of scripture we encounter. Every word is written in a particular context with a particular audience in mind. 

And an important responsibility we have is to think about the messages we share in the particular contexts and with the particular audiences where we find ourselves. We all remember the words of Saint Francis to "Preach the gospel at all times--if necessary, use words", and find ourselves each day preaching the gospel in one way or the other.

What message do you choose? How do you choose to portray it?

God of creation, 
Of resurrection, 
Of breath,
Representing you, 
Sharing your light
Requires my knowing you
And my neighbor
My co worker
My partner 
The stranger 
The neighborhood 
The world itself
So that your light
Your message
Lands 
Where you would have it.
Amen.

© laura & matt norvell 2012 www.settingourstones.org  - We share
this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that
you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be
with you.

4.14.2012

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER Year B



I am not a marketing person, however I do know that the method and context used to communicate a message matters. Different purposes and different audiences require different methods of communication and really, very different words, sentence structure, tone.

In this week's readings we see a couple of different methods employed to share the message of Jesus in those early years after his death and resurrection.

In the gospel of John we see the most direct connection between Jesus and anybody after his resurrection. He appears to some of the disciples behind closed doors, shows them his wounds, and offers them a teaching. He even gives Thomas a personal follow up visit later just to make sure Thomas was paying attention to what was happening. Why would Jesus make such an intentional visit to the disciples? It seems he wanted to make sure that the people who had been closest to him were able to go forward from that moment and testify to what they had seen without any doubt. Jesus knew that these folks would be his primary sources and he invested a lot in them.

In the next generation of the story of Jesus being shared we see in the letter labeled 1 John some folks who were obviously followers of Jesus as they are a few years removed from his earthly presence. They are telling the story to people who they know will not have the chance to physically meet Jesus, and so they are sharing their eye-witness accounts. They are sharing the teachings they received and that they are super excited to pass on to others now.

At a similar time we see the one of the early Christian communities being formed in the stories related in the book of Acts. There we see how folks were coming together to live together and share their resources in an attempt to live out the message of Jesus in a slightly different way. And again, what we see is a group of people with a message they desperately want to share with the world, and they are finding their way to share it.

All of this was written within one or two short generations of Jesus' ministry on earth.  What is the message that we can share, particularly within the context of our Christian communities, about Jesus today.  Our eye-witness accounts are generally something very different.  And yet, can you imagine telling an account similar to that in Acts today? And I bet you can also imagine sharing some of the same experiences as in 1 John.  Hmm.  Maybe our eye-witness account ISN'T all that different after all. 
 
Give it a try - what is your experience of the Risen Christ? What is our shared experience of the Risen Christ?
 
God
Sometimes my rational mind
wants to discount my experience
with the Holy.
Because, You know, I'm enlightened.
I'm savvy. 
I'm a thinker.
Thank you for community
that is a reminder
of how much I share with others
that is felt
visceral
startling
sensual
real.
Thank you for experiences
of the Risen Christ
in our midst.
Amen.  

© laura & matt norvell 2012 www.settingourstones.org  - We share
this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that
you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be
with you.

4.06.2012

RESURRECTION OF THE LORD Year B




Imagine promises fulfilled.

Imagine peace.

Imagine no more hunger.

Imagine no more suffering.

Imagine grace and mercy

Imagine forgiveness of sins.

Imagine seeing and knowing God.

Imagine physical connection and communion with God.

Imagine imaginings realized.


Throughout the Hebrew and Christian scriptures we see places where people are imagining life being better. We see them living toward promises and covenants made with God. We see them faithful and wayward, we see them grateful and repentant, we see them in bondage and free. In their their most dire moments we find them dreaming and Imagining how the world will look when the promises of God are fulfilled.

This is not all that different from us today.

Today we still dream toward and live with the promises of God that we received through Jesus. We are still living toward the dreams of peace, grace, mercy, forgiveness, no more hunger, no more suffering--for all the world. Jesus taught us that God does God's part and we do our part to fulfill these Imaginings.

Last night at our seder meal I was given the honor of reading a part of the "New American Haggadah" (a section written by Lemony Snicket...honest). In the seder there is a section that always looks toward "Next Year in Jerusalem" which looks toward the dream that maybe next year at Passover, there will be peace and all Jews will be back in Jerusalem and able to share the Passover meal together. Imagine what that would look like:  "Even if you do not believe you will celebrate Passover next year in Jerusalem, you may say these words and think of your own home, which I hope is one of freedom and safety, and the journeys of all the people in the world, which are often difficult and treacherous, as they try to find homes for themselves. Next year, we hope everyone in the world has freedom and safety and can celebrate holidays in a home full of fellow travelers who wish them well. Let us be grateful for the homes we have, and hopeful for the homes of others, this year wherever we may be, and next year in Jerusalem."

Imagine what the Kingdom of God can look like in your life, right here, today.

I pray you work to help bring the Light of God in to the dark places of this world.

May your life be filled, every moment of every day, with the Grace and Peace of God.
 
Amen.


© matt norvell 2012 www.settingourstones.org we want to share
this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that
you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be
with you.