Visit our new site at

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Lectionary Leanings - Resurrection Edition

"Christ is alive," I said to myself. "Alive!" and then I paused: "Alive!" and then I paused again "Alive!" Can that really be true? Living as really as I myself am? I got up and walked about repeating, "Christ is living! Christ is living!" At first it seemed strange and hardly true, but at last it came upon me as a burst of sudden glory; "Yes, Christ is alive." It was a new discovery. I thought that all along I had believed it; but not until that moment did I feel sure about it.
-Jan G. Linn How to Be an Open-minded Christian Without Losing Your Faith
The divine nature of Jesus has been much on my mind lately. I usually tend, as a preacher, to lean toward the humanity of Jesus, perhaps because, as Dorothy Sayers says in her book Letters to a Diminished Church, the alternative is so "disquieting." She goes on to say,
"And on the third day he rose again." What are we to make of this? One thing is certain: if he were God and nothing else, his immortality means nothing to us; if he were man and no more, his death is no more important than yours or mine. But if he really was both God and man, then when the man Jesus died, God died too; and when the God Jesus rose from the dead, man rose too, because they were one and the same person.
Jesus is God, come to us as both wholly human and holy divine. How will we share this incredible, this awesome, this just plain good news?

In your preaching, you might be looking for a fresh perspective. In that case, you might be interested in this poem, from the perspective of Jesus himself at the moment of resurrection (by William B Jones from the book Before the Amen: Creative Resources for Worship).
wondering what next after this
he woke to cave's pierced-darkness
edged by light stone sought to block,
but could not this bright morning

loosing the wrappings death held close,
falling to floor he reaches his hand
un-bent, un-bleeding, into cool air
and, risking life, begins breathing
Or, maybe you choose to focus more on the reactions of the other characters
in the story - the women, the disciples, the guards - and whatever translation you use,
there is certainly some juicy stuff there.

What direction will your proclaiming go this week? Stop by the Monday Musings to share favorite Holy Week moments, and/or let us know in the comments how your looking ahead to Sunday is going.

Texts for this week are here. Painting of Eugene Bernard's "Peter and John Running to the Tomb" found here. Painting of Jesus appearing to Mary after his resurrection (artist unknown) found here.


  1. Wow! I get to offer the first post!

    Working on my sermon for the Vigil, at which we will have a baptism. I was inspired today by--of all things!--a Ginzu knife demo at Sears, with all those free long as one buys the knife. I got to thinking about how rarely "free" really is free; there's almost always a catch. How amazing, then, that God's gift of eternal life in Jesus really is free!

    For the Easter Day family service, I'll be taking the boxed up "Alleluias" and attributing each to a different witness to the resurrection, pondering why the resurrection was such cause for rejoicing for each of them.

    That's the plan for the moment, at least...

  2. Betsy, I've never put away the allaluias before - until this year. I'm so looking forward to "releasing them". Of course I got the inspiration to do so from the revgals!
    I wrote a post recently about how we don't value free gifts - which makes the good news of the resurrection a real problem for people.
    Between releasing the Alleluias and celebrating all age communion - the only time of year we do that - oh and a baptism - it should be a busy, fun, celebratory service.

  3. I'll be preaching at our early service on Easter, which is not at Sunrise and unlikely to attract a crowd. I have complete freedom on the order of service, which I want to write today. I'm giving it an element of Easter Vigil, since we don't have that and this will be the first service on Easter morning.

    (Some church members will go to a community sunrise service, but that's not technically "ours." Okay, lots of them will go. Which makes me wonder why we're having this one. But when I suggested, with my interim hat on, that it might not be necessary, the Deacons were not interested in hearing it. So I'll be doing this with something like 11 people. Can you tell that's hampering me? I need to get over it.)

    I'm giving a meditation rather than a full sermon, since we have only half an hour, and it will be on the John text, which I'm thinking of dividing throughout the service, as a Call and then the gospel reading, using the last verse (or perhaps repeating it) as the Benediction. Sermon title is "Supposing," and I am on the theme that Mary supposed Jesus to be someone else, then recognized him. Suppose we recognized him? Suppose we heard him call us by name? Something like that.

  4. I am trying to carry the sermon question from last Sunday through to next Sunday. IT is all about whether or not the Kingdom can be stopped.

    My opening thoughts for Friday and Sunday are posted at the church blog

  5. "Remember how he told you?" I think that's where I'm going at the moment. In this reading, Jesus does not appear to anyone. None of them can say "we have seen the Lord and he is alive!" Just like us, their hope rests on what Jesus had told them, on his promise to them.
    One of my favorite Inherit the Mirth cartoons is of the women looking into the empty tomb. One of them - the grumpy one of the group - says, "I hope you saved the receipt for all these spices!" I'm sure there were and are those whose hope in the resurrection would be dashed by the sight of an empty tomb, who would not believe anyone there regardless of their dazzling clothes. The only way to believe is to remember.

    Songbird, we had a dozen at last night's service and I don't expect any more than that tonight. Don't lose heart. Those who come to the early service will be there because it is where they know they need to be.

  6. Margaret - thanks for the giggle - needed that tonight.

    Songbird - Know what you mean. But there are some compensations for small groups. For example, it's so lovely to take communion together in a circle.

    Not sure where I"m going yet, but hope ot have an outline by the end of today, so maybe more info will be forthcoming.

  7. Songbird, I really love your thoughts. And your title is great too. If I were preaching John, I'd be tempted to nab it from you!

    Margaret, I love that cartoon! Thanks for sharing it.

    I'm wrestling with the Luke text and don't even have a title. The text is so rich and I don't want to do anything to reduce it, flatten it, etc. I am hoping for some inspiration soon!

  8. The title of my sermon is "Expectations and Surprises." Sometimes we miss the surprises because we don't expect them.... Mary expected to see a gardener in the garden, not Jesus who she had every reason to expect was dead.

    Where do we expect to see Jesus? Do we recognize Jesus in the unexpected places? When we do, what surprises might we find?

    I haven't posted in a while, so please let me say thank you to all of you amazing women (and men) for your insight and wisdom every week. I enjoy reading and hope to post more often too!

  9. Ohhh, Songbrid! I hope you do not get a flat place on your forehead from banging your head on the wall. I have a rather flatened spot from similar conversations.
    Same old stuff, "We have always done it that way" argument.
    Margaret- Hee-hee
    KristaBeth- WELCOME!
    I am working on a sermon about personal touches for Maundy Thursday and I have no idea what I am doing for Easter. It also looks like I am preaching sunrise for the community service. I avoided it last year and managed to not preach for the Thanksgiving service too. So, my turn.
    It is a brief one though

  10. KB - welcome.

    and I'm enjoying these sermon titles, so keep em coming. I'm kind of rotten at naming sermons, myself, so I always appreciate others creativity in that area.

  11. Looking at my first Easter Service!
    I did expectations last week on Palm/Passion Sunday... I'm using Luke, and I think tying it with Ephesians 2:4-10 and going with the basic gospel message.

  12. I'm going with "Recognizing Resurrection" and, I hope, encouraging people to recognize resurrection life in their own. I think I'll use the road to Emmaus. But the John gospel would work, too, cause Mary didn't recognize Jesus, either.

  13. Oh, Althea, first Easter! That is exciting! I hope it goes well.

    I just listened to the podcast they do at working preacher, which I almost always find really helpful, but this time it seemed a little scattered or something. Anyway, it did not hit the mark as it often seems to for me. So, leaves me wondering if even the experts need to talk around the resurrection a little - like a really bright light you cant look at directly.

  14. My title is "Crazy Talk" and will probably be something about how living resurrection in the midst of the world seems insane...rather like the male disciples thought the women's words were "an idle tale" (better translated as BS).

    Or something.

    I probably need more than that by the time Sunday gets here, right?

    We're only having three services on Easter this year--our regular Sunday schedule--rather than 4, so that's something. It's spring break, which means no one will be here (or everyone will be here--we can't tell).

    But before then, I need a meditation for Maundy Thursday. I am super tempted to use the one from three years ago when we last did this format of MT dinner/service, but we'll see how I feel about that on Wednesday night when I need to write. lol.

    right now: off to the seder at the synagogue!

  15. We've been working on the idea of covenant throughout Lent. The working sermon for this Sunday is "Covenant Fulfilled". I get bored just typing it. So, I'm going to steal Songbird's great title and see what happens.

    What I am interested in is what happens in some ways AFTER everything...Where do the disciples get the "political will" to live life as if it's different.

    But that's me getting ahead of myself. In the meanwhile, we have the resurrected Jesus surprising us in the morning sunlight.

  16. I'm excited too about releasing the boxed up alleluias! (and thankful to those here who gave me the idea last year).

    MT sermon half-written, with the title "Do This." It's about doing the 3 things Christ did that night - serving others/washing feet, sharing communion, loving one another.

    Easter sermon-titled b/c bulletin collating had to start today - "Show and Tell." Having seen Jesus, Mary goes to tell others. We must do the same.

  17. @Dancing,
    I have done the alleluias before and loved it.
    I did not make a concise effort of doing them this year. But really a lovely thing.
    We are doing hand washing tomorrow night. A little nervous over it, but I did find something to "say."
    Blessings to all on your continued Holy Week.

  18. @Dancing,
    I have done the alleluias before and loved it.
    I did not make a concise effort of doing them this year. But really a lovely thing.
    We are doing hand washing tomorrow night. A little nervous over it, but I did find something to "say."
    Blessings to all on your continued Holy Week.

  19. My post from a FB conversation about 2 weeks ago when I started thinking of my Easter sermon. Hope to flesh it out a bit more before writing on Saturday because I really need to be conscious of time with communion and special music and all. God forbid we should worship longer than usual on Easter! There are reservations to get to!

    Just had my first little glimmer of inspiration - - struck first by the question of the two men in the dazzling clothes "Why do you look for hte living among the dead?" It has me thinking about the tombs into which we relegate Jesus. Where do we shut him in? academiic discussions, theological debates, dusty bookshelves, antiquated paintings, ... See Moremaybe even in the church? Jesus is not shut away from God's people only to be understood, discussed, and shard with a few. He's not in the garden tomb. He's not in the tombs we create. He has risen; life is with life. 8:00 service will have a discussion atmosphere so I think I can then ask "Where do you find life? Where do you find the risen Jesus?" A title might be "Finding Life."

  20. Sherev - LIKE these ideas! And also the reminder that we could actually have a discussion at 8 am worship - I've been kind of wondering what to do with the part I've called "Telling Our Story" - knew I didnt want a sermon, but not sure what else, and this helps.

    Also, this is a dupe for those who know me in Facebook land, but I'm really grateful for this article by Rita Nakashima Brock on the meaning of the crucifixion and thought it might help someone else, too.

  21. She Rev - great thoughts. I am also focusing on that verse.

    Am also pondering how what stands at the center of our faith is an absence - an emptiness where death was supposed to be. The fact of this absence means the real presence of God in a new way in the resurrected Jesus.

    Still don't have a title, an opening, a clear direction, etc.

  22. On the topic of absence...several years ago for Easter I did an oversize mock-up of a newspaper's front page...and all the headlines were about "Nothing": Mary Reports Nothing, Nothing is Good News, etc. It worked very well as a starting point!

  23. Oh, I'm not to Easter yet, not by a long shot! I just got my Maundy Thursday reflection posted this afternoon, and tomorrow I'll look at Good Friday.

    For these last couple weeks of Lent, I've been looking at the mysteries of the rosary, and blogging a reflection on each one. [Kinda like last year, when I reflected on the Stations of the Cross at the end of Lent.]

    Wishing you all the many blessings of Holy Week and the joyJoyJOY of Easter!
    sister hedwyg

  24. I'm struggling with getting my Easter sermon started. I've got a million things in my head and feel pressure to get it started before tomorrow, but it's looking less and less likely!

    I've been toying with the fact that April 4 is the 42nd anniversary of MLK's death. Yet look where we are. We are, whether we want to be it or not, a resurrection people. It's not done, it's not over, but a lot has happened since that movement.

    And I'm drawn to the idea of practicing resurrection, that great Wendall Berry quote. Nora Gallagher steals it and uses it this way (I like what she says too:

    “When I think about the resurrection now, I not only wonder about what happened to Jesus. I ponder what happened to his disciples. Something happened to them, too. They went into hiding after the crucifixion, but after the resurrection appearances, they walked back out into the world. They became braver and stronger; they visited strangers, and healed the sick. It was not just what they saw when they saw Jesus, or how they saw it, but what was set free in them. ... What if the resurrection is not about the appearances of Jesus alone, but also about what those appearances point to, what they ask? It’s finally what we do with them that matters; make them into superstitions or use them as stepping stones to new life. Maybe resurrection, like everything else, needs to be practiced.”


You don't want to comment here; instead, come visit our new blog, We'll see you there!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.