Archive for the ‘Jesus’ Category

Living between Good Friday and Easter

March 28, 2018

We don’t know what to do with Holy Saturday- at least most of us don’t. Good Friday is a time of sorrow and mourning. Easter Sunday is filled with the joy of the resurrection. Saturday is an uncomfortable time. It is a time of waiting and we are a people who do not wait well. Waiting feels awkward. We don’t have things to do when we are waiting.

And so I wonder, what about the first followers of Jesus? What were they doing on Holy Saturday? The gospels are clear they didn’t understand Jesus’ predictions of his resurrection. Those predictions were simple too fantastic to believe. The outcome they were expecting, deliverance from Roman occupation and the restoration of Israel, did not happen. Everyone knew a dead messiah was a failed messiah. For the disciples, on Saturday, their future seems closed.

How do they go on?  Their leader is gone. They can’t imagine a future without Jesus.

Can they go back? Back to what? Life before Jesus? They can’t undo what had happened.

On Holy Saturday they can’t go back and yet they cannot see a way forward.

Shelly Rambo in her book Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remainingcompares the disciples’ Holy Saturday experience with our experience after trauma, whether it is from natural disaster, house fire, varieties of loss, or death.

After trauma, we are in a Holy Saturday place. We can’t go back. What has happened cannot be undone. But we also cannot see a way forward. We can’t imagine the changed future. The past affects our present and our future.  We have less control over things, people, and even ourselves than we care to admit. We feel powerless. We are powerless.

If you are in a place of loss, you are not alone. Plenty of people, including the disciples are there too.

For me, Holy Saturday is a time to reflect on the disciples’ loss and on my losses. I don’t have to be stuck there, in hours of meditation on loss.  But I’ll reflect on living between being unable to change the past and equally unable to see the future- Holy Saturday time. Neither here, nor there. Waiting.

Of course I know how the disciples’ story- and by extension my story- will turn out. I can’t unknow the resurrection! And I am just far enough removed from some of my losses to know there was a way forward. Because I know this, I’ll go outside and find the early, not yet budded, daffodils and whisper (because today is a day for whispers, not shouting. Tomorrow we’ll shout), today I’ll whisper, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”


FYI I highly recommend “Spirit and Trauma”.



February 18, 2018

It is not uncommon these days for people to lament the demise of the family. People have been talking about the death of “traditional families” for as long as I can remember. Sociologist, economists, and pundits of various sorts all worry about this. Even Christians worry about this.

It seems odd to me that Christians worry about this because Jesus didn’t spend a lot of time talking about families. In fact, when he does, Jesus seems to redefine family away from marriage and kinship groups. If you  remember Jesus wasn’t married. Paul wasn’t married. Paul, himself, doesn’t appear to have been a fan of marriage.  I get the sense from Jesus that traditional families may not be that important.

I’ve been reading the Gospel of Mark. You may recall the story where Jesus’ brothers and their mother Mary come to get him. When Jesus is told his family is outside, he says, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And then -looking at the people around him- says, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35, see also Matt 12:46-50)

Of course the other thing that is happening, is that people are claiming new families. Families created out of choice rather than biology. Mostly, it seems, these new families are created out of necessity. You move away from family and home and you find new people to spend the holidays with, new people to share your successes and support you through hard times. Sometimes people’s families abandon them, perhaps when they come out as gay, lesbian or trans. Sometimes people need to leave their family due to abuse or trauma. There are as many reasons families break apart as their are broken families.

Fortunately, we can create new families. We can have relationships that are more than friendships. We can have the sibling or mother, father, aunt, or uncle who we have, for whatever reason, lost. This new family can be healthy and good for all of us.




Jesus seems to say we have a new way to think about how we are related. It’s not nuclear family. It’s not extended family. It’s not church family. It’s just family. All of us. Absolutely all of us. And the head of this family? Jesus. That’s it, just Jesus.

“Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Non linear. Non hierarchical. Not even any second cousins. Just family. Family everywhere we look.

Can I recognize the person on the bus as family? The person at the next desk? Across the street? Honestly, it’s not easy for me. And then I wonder, can they recognize me as family? Does my life, do my actions mark me as a family member?



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