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Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017: John 20:1-18
 
Dear Friends,
Theologian Walter Wink describes Bible stories as a diamond around which we all gather and peer at through our own facet. Each angle from which we read offers a unique perspective on the gem. I hope you will ponder the daily passages and share what you see. The diamond will become more beautiful for us all by your offering. Peace to you this Lent. Keith

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

REFLECTIONS:
 
What we believe about our faith in Jesus is a choice. In Luke, the women believe before Peter. In John, it is just the reverse. I have watched and listened to families do the same as they reflect on the death of their loved one. They choose a narrative about them that they can live with. Sometimes it seems like individuals are talking about two different people. The Bible seems to give us permission to choose what meets our needs. I don’t believe we should insist on our own way for it is our faith that enables us to live. Without our faith there is no hope of new life for any of us. Peace to you, Keith
 
Saturday, Great Vigil of Easter, April 15, 2017: John 19:38-42
 
Dear Friends,
Theologian Walter Wink describes Bible stories as a diamond around which we all gather and peer at through our own facet. Each angle from which we read offers a unique perspective on the gem. I hope you will ponder the daily passages and share what you see. The diamond will become more beautiful for us all by your offering. Peace to you this Lent. Keith

38 After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. 39 Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. 40 They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. 42 And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

REFLECTIONS:
 
Tombs were not final burial places. They were a kind of oven for the decomposition of the flesh. On a designated date the tomb would be opened and the bones removed and buried. John’s account is an attempt to remove the horrible image (and smell) of such a place. The 100 pounds of myrrh and aloes almost sounds like an attempt to insure it. I would defer to the other gospels accounts for this day, so as not to gloss over the death Jesus experienced. This day is a day of mourning. If he did not die then what hope do we have? For we surely will. I think it appropriate to experience even sadness for ourselves.  Peace to you, Keith 
 
Good Friday, April 14, 2017: John 19:16-30
 
Dear Friends,
Theologian Walter Wink describes Bible stories as a diamond around which we all gather and peer at through our own facet. Each angle from which we read offers a unique perspective on the gem. I hope you will ponder the daily passages and share what you see. The diamond will become more beautiful for us all by your offering. Peace to you this Lent. Keith

16 Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.  So they took Jesus; 17 and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. 24 So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

“They divided my clothes among themselves,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.”

25 And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

28 After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

REFLECTIONS:

In time, Jesus will not be the King of the Jews, but rather the King of the Christians. The Hebrew Scriptures and their rejection of him convince the Christians that he is who he says he is. On this day, his death on the cross makes him our king. We are called to follow in his steps and to allow powerlessness to defeat power. To this day, love overrules hatred; and his example of trusting in God no matter what we face makes us subjects of the King. Peace to you, Keith
 
Thursday, April 13, 2017: John 17:1-11
Dear Friends,
Theologian Walter Wink describes Bible stories as a diamond around which we all gather and peer at through our own facet. Each angle from which we read offers a unique perspective on the gem. I hope you will ponder the daily passages and share what you see. The diamond will become more beautiful for us all by your offering. Peace to you this Lent. Keith

After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

REFLECTIONS:

A helpful image- to simply know God is eternal life. And Jesus is the one who has made God known to us. A former president from my seminary wrote a commentary on the Gospel of John. The image he chose was to imagine Jesus as a tilted full length mirror where we could see God in heaven and God could see us on earth. It is another helpful image since all the verses are mirror images of one another. So, to see Jesus clearly is to see God and God – us. Peace to you, Keith
 
Dear Friends,
Theologian Walter Wink describes Bible stories as a diamond around which we all gather and peer at through our own facet. Each angle from which we read offers a unique perspective on the gem. I hope you will ponder the daily passages and share what you see. The diamond will become more beautiful for us all by your offering. Peace to you this Lent. Keith

Wednesday, April 12, 2017: John 12:27-36

27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 34 The crowd answered him, “We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” 35 Jesus said to them, “The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.”

REFLECTIONS:
 
I have often thought that the image of darkness was a better image for faithfulness than light. To be faithful is to set aside control and self-direction and follow blindly where God leads. I think people who know what God expects of them have most likely made themselves into a god. Peace to you, Keith   
 
Dear Friends,
Theologian Walter Wink describes Bible stories as a diamond around which we all gather and peer at through our own facet. Each angle from which we read offers a unique perspective on the gem. I hope you will ponder the daily passages and share what you see. The diamond will become more beautiful for us all by your offering. Peace to you this Lent. Keith

Tuesday, April 11, 2017: John 12: 20-26

 20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

REFLECTIONS:

I would welcome other insights on this one. I wish I could read Greek again so as to understand the meaning of the words such as “to see.” There seems to be a play on words here. Why doesn’t verse 26 say, “Those who follow me must serve me?” Does this mean that those who do do good things in his name must eventually follow him into the ground like the single grain, die to themselves and be born again? Does this also mean to serve him? Peace to you. Keith
 
Dear Friends,
Theologian Walter Wink describes Bible stories as a diamond around which we all gather and peer at through our own facet. Each angle from which we read offers a unique perspective on the gem. I hope you will ponder the daily passages and share what you see. The diamond will become more beautiful for us all by your offering. Peace to you this Lent. Keith

Monday, April 10, 2017: John 12:9-19

When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.

12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
    the King of Israel!”

14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:

15 “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
    sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. 17 So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. 18 It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. 19 The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”

REFLECTIONS:
 
To understand Palm Sunday well, one must know the whole story so we can look back. The disciples cannot look forward so like us this day does not make sense to them until they too have hindsight.  If Jesus thinks he is the heir of King David, he fails to achieve his goal and the disciples clearly misunderstand who Jesus means to be. He uses a politically packed metaphor- a donkey – to claim his kingdom. He does not have soldiers or wield political power. His power is to bring peace to all of us who are powerless. For those of us who proclaim him king of our lives, no politics can prevent him from owning our hearts. Peace to you, Keith
 
Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017: Matthew 21:1-11
 
Dear Friends,
Theologian Walter Wink describes Bible stories as a diamond around which we all gather and peer at through our own facet. Each angle from which we read offers a unique perspective on the gem. I hope you will ponder the daily passages and share what you see. The diamond will become more beautiful for us all by your offering. Peace to you this Lent. Keith

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, ‘The Lord needs them.’ And he will send them immediately.[a]This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

“Tell the daughter of Zion,
Look, your king is coming to you,
    humble, and mounted on a donkey,
        and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd[b] spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

10 When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.”

REFLECTIONS:
 
I have read that the Jewish revolutionary hero, Judas Maccabeus, also known as “The Hammer of the Greeks” because he defeated them, rode into Jerusalem after his victory, on a donkey.  Judas Maccabeus then went to the temple, which has been desecrated  by the hated Antiocus Epiphanes, and cleaned all the profane stuff out of it.  It is logical people thought Jesus was another Judas Maccabeus, come to defeat the Romans.  Who did Jesus come to defeat?  How was he victorious?  What did he win?  Grace and peace, James.
 
Saturday, April 8, 2017: John 11:28-44
 
Dear Friends,
Theologian Walter Wink describes Bible stories as a diamond around which we all gather and peer at through our own facet. Each angle from which we read offers a unique perspective on the gem. I hope you will ponder the daily passages and share what you see. The diamond will become more beautiful for us all by your offering. Peace to you this Lent. Keith

28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

REFLECTIONS:
 
For all of us who have lost loved ones, as surely many did at the same time Lazarus died, I struggle with why Lazarus and not someone else, or many others.  Nevertheless, it is a touching story of the nature of Christ’s love for people, and for a friend; a story in which we can take comfort that there weeping with us in our grief, and rejoicing in life well-lived, is our faithful Lord Jesus.  We have to know that one day Lazarus died again.  Because of Jesus this is not a defeat.  Because of the life he gives us and calls us to, life is to be celebrated while it is being lived, and when it has ended on this side of eternity.  Grace and peace, James.
 
Dear Friends,
Theologian Walter Wink describes Bible stories as a diamond around which we all gather and peer at through our own facet. Each angle from which we read offers a unique perspective on the gem. I hope you will ponder the daily passages and share what you see. The diamond will become more beautiful for us all by your offering. Peace to you this Lent. Keith

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus,[a] “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus[b] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11 After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Thomas, who was called the Twin,[c] said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus[d] had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles[e] away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[f] Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,[g] the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

REFLECTIONS:
 
“Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”  We have to figure out what this means.  In a sense, when we think about eternal life, it is beyond our comprehension, even while we accept this scripture as saying that our departed loved ones continue to live in a dimension removed from us.  And then, there is a word from Revelation, 14:13 “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.  They rest from their labors and their deeds follow them.”  Does this mean that those Christly deeds, that Christ loved-life, continues in this dimension in an eternal way?  Grace and peace, James.
 
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