On Sunday, we hear the story from John 21 of Jesus and Peter on the beach. Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" and three times Peter answers, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Then Jesus tells him, "Feed my sheep." We also hear about how Saul became the apostle Paul, on the road to Damascus. Here he was, on the way to persecute the followers of the Way, and out of the blue, Jesus speaks to him, too: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" There he is struck blind, and when he sees again, he has a new calling as a follower of Jesus and a missionary to the gentiles. On one Sunday, we hear stories of two of the main characters from the New Testament. But I can't help being drawn to Ananias.
Selected posts from around our network of affiliated bloggers
Grace may be amazing, but it can also be confusing. It was that confusing grace that surrounded me the other day while standing in a parking lot in Montreat, North Carolina.
One of the clichés I found myself saying more than once during our children’s sermon program this Easter is that Jesus being resurrected from the dead changed everything. As I said it, I imagined a child asking me a classic children question, “How did Jesus coming back to life change things?” How, indeed.
We were just about to enter the sanctuary with the paschal light when the pastor carrying the Christ candle turned around and said in a stage whisper, “Aaron is here.” At first I thought he’d said, “Karen is here,” which I already knew—she came to church on Easter even though her mother had died two days before. I must have had a weird look on my face because he said again, “Aaron is here.” And I knew that our second Easter service of the day would now be up for grabs.
"It's all about the process," I hear, over and over again, from my oldline comrades. This is a familiar refrain amongst us Presbyterians in particular, from pretty much every corner of the fading denominational churches.
I've been following with interest the conversation between Christian leaders about fixing the date of Easter to a particular day in the calendar—like the second or third Sunday in April. Back in January, Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, voiced his support for the idea, joining leaders of the Catholic, Orthodox, and Coptic churches. Welby was even so bold as to suggest that the date of Easter could be fixed in as few as five or ten years, saying, "School holidays and so on are all fixed—it affects almost everything you do in the spring and summer. I would love to see it before I retire."
A few years ago I audited a class called Preaching and the Short Story. There was a story on the syllabus with Easter in the title, and I kept thinking I should read that before I wrote my Easter sermon.
Why do we eat soup during Lent? The question from a church member caught me a bit off guard as I was scrambling to get a few things together for a soup and bread Lenten lunch that our church was hosting last week. I don’t remember exactly how I responded. I think I vaguely gestured toward Lent being a season for embracing self-discipline and simplicity.
Our churches need more poetry. Especially during Holy Week. So this week, let us not be theologians or philosophers.
When Jesus first walked into my life, I didn’t notice. There was no parade, no palms, no shouts of hosanna. I just started going to Sunday school. A couple of years later, I felt my first call to ministry but I didn’t recognize that for what it was either.