October 2018

Embracing Death and Resurrection: The Tension of Discipleship

Resurrection follows death.

While this observation might seem like an unnecessary exercise in the obvious, we would do well to remember that the obvious can also be overlooked or, in some cases, conveniently forgotten. When it comes to the celebration of the Resurrection, we can be an impatient people. We prefer to jump to the conclusion of the story in search of a quick and easy path to the happy ending where all is made right with the world.

It Won't Be Long

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Anticipating vacation time with family frequently motivates me through the long months of cold winter weather. I think about walking across the warm sand of an ocean beach or spending long evenings with my family sitting around a camp fire. Somehow the anticipation of summer fun helps the cold winter days and nights pass a bit quicker.

Scripture unfolds a clearer picture of God and His incredible plan for us as we read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Many divine truths come into purest focus through the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Resurrection in the Old Testament and Early Jewish Thought

As important as the concept of resurrection is to the New Testament and Christianity, it is surprising to find that the Old Testament has very few references to this belief. According to scholars like Robert Martin-Achard, this owes in part to the ancient Israelite understanding of what the good life should be. For ancient Israelites, the best life was one that was focused squarely on this world, because every living person is formed from the dust of the earth and made alive by the breath of God (i.e., His Spirit).

Resurrection in the Gospel of Mark

One of the more interesting biblical puzzles involves the account of the resurrection in the Gospel of Mark.  Among the ancient versions of Mark that still survive, there are several different endings, most of which read like a more brief version of the other gospels. Several women find an empty tomb and are told that Jesus is alive. These women report this to the other disciples. Then, the resurrected Jesus appears to the disciples to encourage and teach them before promising His return and ascending to the Father.

Someday Resurrection

“I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11: 25).

Someday there will be a resurrection for every Christ follower. Someday the dead will rise from the dust. Someday heaven will come to earth as every knee bows and tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. Someday…

We all have hopes for someday. Someday my kids will sleep past 6:00 AM. Someday the ratio of exercise clothes I own and exercising that I do will be proportionate. Someday I’ll find balance in my life. Someday I’ll be kind to myself. Someday…

Resurrection and Communion

Early in my pastoral ministry, one of the charter members of the congregation I was serving died unexpectedly just a few months after my arrival. He had served that church faithfully for nearly 30 years as treasurer, and in his memory, his family purchased new offering plates inscribed with his name and the words, “In memory of a faithful servant.”

Raised From the Dead to Make Breakfast

John the Apostle records four resurrection appearances of our Lord.

The first was to Mary Magdalene, who was weeping in the garden over the mistaken notion that Jesus’ body had been stolen – to her, Jesus was obviously still dead. It wasn’t until Jesus called her name that she recognized Him as fully alive and in the flesh. She was so elated that, as John reports, she grabbed Him and wouldn’t let Him go until He told her she had to (John 20:17).

Death Before Resurrection: The Gift of the Holy Triduum

When reading a gripping and suspenseful novel, there is always the temptation to turn to the back of the book and see how the story ends. However, in doing so, the suspense and drama leading up to the conclusion often becomes less intense. The Resurrection is clearly a central act in the renewing and redeeming of all things. Unfortunately, too many Christians fail to fully experience the joy and hope of resurrection because they have overlooked the invitation to walk with Jesus all the way to the cross.

Faith Over Fear

FEAR. Just the sound of the word can evoke the very emotion it describes. Even as believers, if we focus on what fear represents to us individually for too long, it can be a burden on our spirits and take us into dark places that God never intended for us to go. Isaiah 41:10 reminds us, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be discouraged, for I am your God” (NLT). God has a better plan than fear.

Resurrection of the Body

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The choice of what will happen to one’s physical body after death has been a question for many Christians as it relates to the resurrection of the body. Christians from my country, Guatemala, are generally against cremation because of their Roman Catholic background that emphasizes bodily burial in sacred cemeteries.

Much attention is given to the physical body and the act of burial upon death: people will even prepare their loved ones’ favorite food to place on their tombs and fly kites adorned with written messages as a way to keep in contact with the spirits of the deceased.