The following is a reflection on John 11:32-44, the Gospel Lesson for All Saints B, according to the Revised Common Lectionary. There is also a Litany for All Saints Day on this site here. While I don’t use the King James Version of the Bible often, I do happen to love its rendering of the raising of Lazarus. Jesus, after weeping and being emotionally moved, commands those around him to open Lazarus’ tomb. There’s instant […]
The following is a reflection on Job 42:1-6, 10-17, the Hebrew Bible lesson appointed for Proper 25B, according to the Revised Common Lectionary. I have to admit, while I’ve always had an attraction to the Book of Job, I’ve never cared much for the ending. I’ve tended to agree with scholars who say that it was tacked on to the book much later to make the book more palatable. I mean…he just gets everything back? […]
The following is a reflection on Luke 24:36b-48, the Gospel lesson for Easter 3B and the Thursday in Easter Week, according to the Revised Common Lectionary. The Gospel authors (especially Luke and John) go to great lengths to show that there’s something different about the resurrected Christ. Something so different that Mary Magdalene doesn’t recognize Jesus, and in fact mistakes him for the gardener, on Easter morning. And then the disciples on the road to […]
A reflection on Matthew 14:22-33, the Gospel lesson for August 7, 2011, for proper 14 in the Revised Common Lectionary. A reflection on the Old Testament lesson for the same day is available here. If ever there is a story in the gospels which sums up the Gospel, this is it. The story begins like the story of Creation. As the Spirit of God hovered over the waters just before light was called into being—Jesus […]
I think it's helpful in this regard to not separate the Resurrection of Jesus and Coming of the Holy Spirit as two wholly separate and different things. They are two different things, but they have lots of overlap - and they are in a fuller sense two actions of the one-and-the-same sweeping act of God: God reconciling all things to Himself, God making all things new.
The astute reader will recognize in this reading, from the second to last chapter in the Bible, imagery from the second chapter of Genesis, and the Garden of Eden: the Tree of Life and the River flowing on either side of it. Here, in this phase of John's Apocalypse, we return to the cool of the garden - that wonderful time when humanity walked with God in the cool of the day. That time when we spoke to God as casually as we might speak to one another. That time when all was right in the universe, and all was right in our relationship with God. Paul would call this righteousness. But, it's not that the 'unpleasantness' of the fall never happened. Or the unpleasantness of Cain killing Abel. Or the unpleasantness of drunkenness, sordidness, the golden calf, David and Bathsheba, war, strife, hatred, idolatry, unfaithfulness blah, blah, blah - it's not that all that didn't happen. It's that it's all taken care of. The tab has been paid. The tomb is empty. Jesus is made new. And now the full ramifications of the Resurrection of Jesus can be seen: Eden is made new. Eden has returned - but! It's also remade. It's new.
But, this book is so, so very important - and utterly important when it comes to the Great Fifty Day Festival of Resurrection. Because it's in John's vision that the implications of Jesus' Resurrection are allowed to bear themselves out. It's in this book that we see that all things are made new because of the Lamb's death and rising. It's in Revelation that we see the full effect of the empty tomb - because when we look in this tomb we find that all of creation isn't there - for we have risen. It's in the Revelation to John that the ramifications of Jesus' Resurrection are shown to be cosmic in scale. And, it's beautiful. And, sometimes it's grotesque. But, whatever it is, it isn't shades of grey. It's bold, its scale is epic, and it's Life.
This is the overarching story of the scriptures. Over and over and over again God looks like he's been defeated. Over and over again it looks like the story is over. It appears that God had a good run, but the Cindarella story has to come to an end. And each time, God prevails. Seeming defeat turns into amazing victory. That is the story of God.