I identify pretty strongly with that little searching, bleating lamb.
I hope that link will work for a few days.
There are only two possible lifestyles: Gospel and not. Full stop.
Hey! Don't accuse me of heresy or disrespect! Good Christians all over this country are having Easter egg hunts, echoing an ancient pagan ritual. So don't tell me I'm being irreverent!
Happy Easter to you all!
"That is why on Good Friday and every other Friday in people's lives as they come to death, one of the most powerful things we can do is be truly present with them and with one another.Last year on Palm Sunday, I heard a sermon challenging me to walk with Jesus all the way through holy week. I tried last year – missing only a couple of services. And it was a deep experience for me, as I wrote, especially on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
The power in the powerlessness is this: Stay present, stay with it, stay with the grief, the awe in knowing the suffering, stay with Jesus never more human, never more God present with us. Stay with Jesus.
In baptism we die with Jesus and are raised with him into New Life. So today we die just a bit. After all the efforts to make a difference we are brought up short; there is nothing to be done. Time is up. He said it most simply, "It is finished."
27Again they came to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to him 28and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” 29Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin? Answer me.” 31They argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?” —they were afraid of the crowd, for all regarded John as truly a prophet. 33So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Jesus has attacked the Temple in the name of God. He has reasserted the ancient prophetic vision that the Temple be a house of prayer for all people. He has turned out the established system of sacrifices, with the profitable business of exchanging unclean for clean, claiming, again in God's name, that they had turned the Temple into a den of robbers. By what authority? That's the questions the authorities have.
From their perspective, they know where their authority comes.
First, they know that their authority comes from scripture, and from their traditional interpretation of the Bible. All of the business about unclean and clean animals comes from the scripture. The entire sacrificial system for righting wrong is spelled out in detail in the Bible. The prohibition against common Roman coinage is a defense of the first commandment against graven images. Caesar claims to be divine, the Son of God. It would be blasphemy to bring his image into the holy Temple. These religious authorities know their Bible. They quote it and enforce it with energetic intention, believing in their hearts that they are defending God.
Second, they know that they have the authority of recognition from the acknowledged establishments of religion and state. The Temple is given permission by the Roman governor to carry out its religious practice. The ordering of the Temple has oversight from the religious authorities. This is the traditional, structured way that this people has carried out its corporate religious practice for centuries. It is established tradition.
Scripture and established tradition -- that's where the authority comes from for the Temple magistrates.
But who is this Galilean rebel and where does he get the gumption to walk in here and nearly start a riot, attacking the established foundations of the Temple? They ask him to declare his grounds: "By what authority are you doing these things?"
Jesus could have answered them. He could have said, "By the authority of God." But they would have answered back, we have God's authority; who do you think you are? We are the recognized, established authorities of God.
Jesus could have said, "Because of what is written in the Scriptures." He could have continued to quote the prophets and declare God's intention that the Temple be radically open and inclusive -- a house of prayer for all people. He could have quoted from all of the stories and psalms and prophets about God's preferential regard for the poor. But they would have answered back, shooting Bible bullets to reference and defend every practice that Jesus attacks.
There's no talking with them. It won't help. Some folks won't be budged. Not if they've got Bible and tradition behind them.
So Jesus asks them a trick question. What about John the Baptist? Of course, they didn't like him either. But the people did. The people loved him and thought he was a prophet. They were afraid. Either they were afraid to risk the scorn and unpopularity of the crowd. Or they were afraid to admit an uncomfortable truth that didn't fit with their comfortable traditions.
So they didn't answer Jesus. They quit talking. They quit listening. They weren't going to change. It was too costly. It would cost them the entire system they had been living for. It would cost them the comfort of knowing they were right, the comfort of a belief that had been, well, comfortable. It would cost them their security, because their money came from their system of belief. It was too far to go. So they abandoned the uncomfortable consideration of uncomfortable truths. They quit talking; they quit listening; they started plotting how they could undermine this troublemaker, if necessary, with violence.
Every social movement that has challenged the established privileges has met the same kind [of] resistance. Every economic reform that has challenged the established interests has met the same kind of resistance. Every new discovery that has broken with the conventional paradigm has met the same kind of resistance.
It's almost impossible to attack entrenched power straight-on. It must be undermined. Usually its destructive power has to be brought out into the open where everyone can see its brokenness. But that means victims. Dogs on the bridge at Selma. Witches drowned and gay people burned (fagged). Union organizers busted. Sick people without access to medicine letting their suffering be filmed on TV. Illegal pictures of body bags. Homeless people in your face. A gay bishop who isn't invited to Lambeth.
"By what authority?" the authorities demand, as they shut down and shut up the uncomfortable ones.
Most of the time now, the answer from the challengers is, "Jesus." By the authority of Jesus. By his example of compassion and healing and forgiveness and generosity and love. By the authority of Jesus the victims confront the abusive and violent. He's tipped the scales forever.
Well, go read it for yourself, if you haven't already.
Innocence. Guilt. Accusations. Lies. Betrayal. Suffering. Death.
These are the major themes of the story of what Christians call Holy Week which begins this Sunday - The Sunday of The Passion, or Palm Sunday. These elements are what we must walk through in the final steps of our Journey through Lent.
It’s no wonder – no wonder at all – that many people want to avoid Holy Week like the proverbial plague.
In what theologian Paul Tillich named, “The Age of Anesthesia,” it comes as no surprise that many people avoid coming to church until Easter morning.
Who wants to hear of such things? Isn’t the ordinary stuff of our postmodern lives already too full of these things? Give us celebration! Give us joy! Give us something to feel good about!
Isn’t Christianity supposed to be about ‘good news’?
Why, yes. Yes it is.
The Good News for those who walk with Jesus during Holy Week is that in a culture that cherishes ‘rugged individualism’ we are not alone. We are assured that God knows the intimate details of our human predicament.
God suffered with us in that long ago time, in that ancient city, on that lonely hill. A part of God dies every time innocence is lost, guilt is unmerited, accusations are false, lies are told, betrayal is perpetrated, and humans suffer unjustly.
The fullness of the celebration of Easter cannot be known unless you . . . .
Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea”, and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.I'm doing my best to walk with Jesus this week. But this is a hard reading. He tells his disciples that they will have awesome power. By inference, I guess he's saying that to you and me, too. How often do we claim that power or use it? Not very often, in my case.