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June 15, 2022

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Luke 23:34 

When Jesus was crucified, the first word he speaks to the people who want him dead is a word of forgiveness. He speaks it because they do not know that they are killing their own Messiah. He speaks it even before his enemies and accusers begin to speak, scoff and mock him. The Church wrestled deeply with this word. Some wanted the passage omitted altogether, thinking perhaps that this was not the time for forgiveness, or perhaps so as not to encourage anything that would put an unwelcome divide between him and his enemies. But the word of forgiveness was often on Jesus’ lips, and for all people—including outcasts and, yes, enemies. 

The first step in healing is forgiveness. Desmond Tutu once said, “Without forgiveness, there is no future.” Our Lord authorized us to pray for our forgiveness and connected it with forgiving those who sinned against us. When we hold onto grudges and evils that have transpired against us, we only harbor resentment that helps no one, and certainly provides no solace. But forgiveness heals. It heals us, it heals our families, and it heals all others—even our enemies. We were all enemies of God until Jesus came speaking a word of forgiveness—and giving his life for us all.
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

June 14, 2022

Blessed are those who have not seen. John 20:29 

The disciples who had gathered after the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday had the empirical evidence of Jesus’ scars. Thomas was encouraged to test them as proof (John 20:27). The disciples were welcomed to come near to him, welcomed even to “touch and see” his resurrected presence in their midst (Luke 24:39). What joy to have the risen Lord among them! 

We who live now two millennia from this time get to hear this promising witness. And we are far removed temporarily from the empirical evidence of physically touching Jesus’ scars. Yet faith trusts that they are still there—that Jesus, who died on the cross and bore the pains and scars of death, is now risen from the tomb. And we proclaim it, “Christ is risen!” Faith grasps what our eyes and hands cannot experience. Jesus walks with wounded feet. His hands and side, pierced, are all still there for us in his resurrected presence in our midst. And it is this Jesus that endows our trust and hope in him and all that he has done for us as having the joyous reward of our being blessed by God! We shall, indeed, see how blessed we truly are!
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,
 

June13, 2022

I am the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6 

Jesus offers many “I am” sayings in the Gospel of John, but this one stands out in particular because it is often one of the readings at funerals. Jesus has again spoken of his departure, and his words here are now a response to Thomas’ question, “How can we know the way?” But Jesus is the way—the way to follow, as we are called to be followers of this Cross-bearer. He is the truth of promise. He is the life that never ends. 

The early church often went under the title of those who “belonged to the Way” (Acts 9:2)—a description often associated with their persecution. The way is dangerous and may lead to suffering and death. One can understand how we, like Thomas, may struggle to understand it, let alone appreciate it. But when we know Who is leading, we have the wisdom of Christ. His path we follow, his truth we uphold, his life we share. Now we know, and now we get to live.
 

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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

June 8, 2022

I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Matthew 26:29 

Much happened on the night in which our Lord was betrayed. There were those who sought his death and found a willing accomplice in one of Jesus’ own disciples, Judas. Jesus would be arrested and taken off captive. Peter, who had promised never to desert his Lord, did so when pressed by those in the courtyard while Jesus was on trial. But there was also this moment when Jesus shared a last meal with his disciples, giving them the bread of life and the wine of forgiveness. 

We still share in that meal when we gather at our Lord’s altar. We eat and drink as he commanded—a command of gentleness and love, for it is for our forgiveness and wholeness. But in our celebration of communion, we also experience what this all means and where it is all leading—feasting at the table of our Lord. Jesus at table blessed sinners and tax collectors, you and me, and he invites all to a celebration at the final banquet where he, too, raises the cup of hope in our midst!
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,
 

June 7, 2022

Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:5-6 

Repeatedly, the message throughout the Scriptures is “do not fear.” But fear still comes in many forms. Why were these women fearful? They may be fearful of standing in the presence of God’s holy angel, even as the shepherds were on the hills of Bethlehem. They may be afraid of death, or maybe even life itself—where we are going, what tomorrow will bring. Or they may just be fearful creatures as many of us, in fact, are—fears that others may even sinfully exploit and manipulate. Fear is a constant companion for humanity. 

Our hope, however, is grounded not in our own strength of will, but in God who keeps his promise. Jesus, raised from the dead, is on the move after the resurrection to bring this promise to all people and to crush the reign of fear and death. “Come, see the place where he lay.” There is no death here, and there is nothing to fear. Life wins over death, and life itself is filled with the hope that all who shelter or cower in fear’s stronghold will be lifted up. 
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

June 6, 2022

And in his name the Gentiles will hope. Matthew 12:21 

As Isaiah had proclaimed long ago about the coming Messiah, Jesus’ mission is to bring justice and hope to all peoples and nations. This proclamation runs in the face of any opposition that wants to keep people under their thumbs. Jesus fully intends to free the peoples of this world. He will not allow those who have been hurt to go unnoticed or unattended. He will not let the light of hope fade from the eyes of those who are caught in the web of despair. 

 We are, of course, aware of many—maybe even ourselves—who suffer from abuse and neglect, who despair and see only gloom. We are grieved by the terrors that strike peoples through acts of violence and harm, even as we are grieved by those who have given up on life altogether. We have felt the scar of death. Jesus’ mission continues, nonetheless, in the community of faith that will not give up or leave others behind. All who look to the servant Lord have the “sure and certain hope in the resurrection of the dead.” Even when Hope itself is crucified, he lives for us and for all peoples.

June 2, 2022

Behold the man! John 19:5 

Jesus, beaten and wearied, stands publicly before all wearing a crown of thorns and a purple robe. Is it meant only to mock him for the charge that he was a king for his people? Is it meant to elicit sympathy from a hardened crowd that only cried for his death? Are we to see here some poor hapless fellow like so many, shamed and tortured by their oppressors? Or are we to behold something more in this moment? Is Jesus now publicly displayed as the One people longed to embrace—the Messiah who will save us? 

 Jesus is the man of hope for us not because he shirks from the scars of suffering. He is the man of hope precisely because he places himself in the midst of our suffering. He takes our sins with him in his path toward the cross. We may behold that the garments of royalty are a prelude to his coming into his kingdom for us and for all people in their suffering and death. For all who journey through the time of trial, trusting Christ as their Lord and Savior, there is a crown of righteousness laid up for them. Behold, the man—of hope!
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Helping people live life with Jesus everyday,

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