As the Season of Lent rushes toward inevitability, scripture calls us to play the old game of Truth or Consequences—no, not the game show from the 1960s, but the old-time religion game of suffering and salvation.
When I was a child, I loved Palm Sunday because we got to act out the biblical version of a ticker-tape parade. Later I learned of the ephemeral quality of stardom and parades and decided that Palm Sunday and Passion Week belong together. As a pastor, I have accepted the dismal fact that most of our people skip Thursday, Friday and Saturday, slipping from parade pandemonium to Easter ecstasy with none of the suffering and pain.
When my children were small, the mommy in me always played tug-of-war with the minister in me. Often, while sitting in an evening meeting, I would dream of being home, curled up in bed, reading to my little ones. And reading to the little one in me.
The texts for the third Sunday of Easter are not for the fainthearted. They are about pounding hearts, wounded hearts and burning hearts. And they invite us to encounter the living Christ in the heart of who we are. Kathleen Norris and others remind us that "to believe" is not a matter of the mind, but a matter of the heart. For what we "believe" is what we "give our heart to."
When I was in seminary, Doubting Thomas was my soul mate. Jesus kept "appearing" to my fellow students within the rich stories of the Christian tradition. But like Thomas, I never seemed to be there when Jesus arrived. Why? Because the absurdity of the resurrection rumor had sent me away. I could not see the mark on Jesus' hands or touch the wound in his side.
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