Hmmm …

Either I should have my head examined or I need to get out more. Some perverse mood came over me and I wound up cleaning out my desk. Well, 3/4 of it, anyway (the last quarter will happen later this morning). It had gotten so bad, this big desk of mine, that I was stacking stuff on top of it because I couldn’t stuff any more stuff inside of it. I have bankers boxes to house the stuff, which means I can make a nice, orderly stack of stuff, all neatly labeled and which will, of course, sit around and gather dust but that’s another article, I’m sure.

I have a big executive desk with a left side return. The return holds two drawers – the small ‘pen’ drawer and a large file drawer beneath it. This is the drawer I use for bank statements, insurance papers, certificates and titles, and all that sort of thing for the running of the household. I removed six years of bank statements (yes, you read that correctly – six years), several years of income tax returns, and about a gazillion checkbook stubs. Now all neatly filed in banker boxes.

Yesterday I tackled the ‘me’ drawer on the right-hand side of the desk. It was quite a revelation. I removed, literally, at least two reams of paper – Bible color sheets, art projects, hints and ideas, lesson plans, and other stuff that remained from when I taught Sunday school. Cleared out tons of paper having to do with when I was going to seminary to become a deaconess (in my denomination it is a non-ordained position) but did hold back on some of the histories and the Church Fathers and the major heresies from centuries ago. Modern heresies are far too numerous to even contend with … but I digress.

Then I opened a file that was titled GOD. I had forgotten that was in there. Cleaning out the drawer slowed to a stop. I pulled out each piece of paper and read it. A large Mountain Dew and a pack of cigarettes later, I sat back and wondered at myself. Where did that woman go? The one who collected sayings and verses and discourses and apologetics and deep thoughts by brilliant minds across the ages and book titles and recommendations to myself on authors to research. Where did she go?

I remember when I was writing the essays that eventually became my book – the Holy Spirit sat on the desk here while I typed; He gave me the inspiration for a lot of the essays; He directed me to the correct sources for information. We got so close, He and I. To those I spoke really personal things to, I laughed and said I didn’t have ghostwriter, that the Holy Ghost had an Audre writer.

I want that woman back. I need her in my life. I used to wake in the morning with hymn verses running through my head. Jesus was the first thing in the morning, the last thing at night, and a constant friend throughout the days. I think what happened was I stopped looking. Stopped looking for God in all things. Stopped seeing Jesus as the goal and example. Stopped needing the Holy Spirit – my Comforter and Teacher.

I didn’t throw away one piece of paper in the GOD file. They are all neatly standing in that file, ready for me to begin looking again, searching again, yearning again. I can feel the pull towards it now. I won’t forget about that file again.

I Don’t Need Proof

Do you know how you’ll think of something and all of a sudden you see that thing all around you? You never noticed it before but now it’s so ‘in your face’ that you can’t ignore it? The same thing happened to me today.

There I was, minding my own business, just scootin’ around YouTube and it jumped out at me. Shroud of Turin videos all over the place. Why? I’m a strong believer in the ‘Holy Spirit’ moments. When He wants you to do something, or say something, He slaps ya upside your head to get your attention. Ok; maybe I’m the only He has to slap. Anyway …

I watched some videos I had seen before and for the most part, enjoyed them again. Then I remembered a fairly recent news headline to the effect that because it could not be scientifically disproved to be the burial cloth of Christ, it had to be assumed that it is. I haven’t been able to come up with the right collection of keywords to find that particular article, I did find this. It is a long read but well worth the time invested. One thing stands out to me – this paragraph from under the heading “Image formation versus work of an artist”: “These findings support the idea that the image on the Shroud was made by a sudden flash of high-energy radiation.  They also refute the possibility of forgery, since lasers were obviously not available in medieval times.” (my emphasis)

Before I share a couple of videos with you, I would be greatly remiss if I did not share this – “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” King James Version (KJV) John 20:29. I believed long, long before I ever heard of the Shroud of Turin.

The first video I hope you will watch is this:

It is long (or feels like it is!) but if you listen carefully and follow the information, you will understand two things at once. The flash of light/radiation came from Inside the Body and the Shroud shows Movement of the Body at the time of the flash. It is because the flash came from within the body itself, not an exterior cause, that we are able to see the back of the figure as well as the front of the figure. This just staggers the imagination. It did put into perspective something that I had heard on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network – better known as the Roman Catholic channel). I once heard a priest on the channel refer to Jesus as having ‘raised Himself’ from the dead. This video completely changed my mind as to what the priest had said. I had always believed that God raised Jesus from the dead and of course, He did – but as Jesus is with God, in God, and is God, one can say the Jesus raised Himself from the dead.

And now, the last video. It’s as short as the other is long. It is moving in a deep, personal way.

Finally, let me say, I don’t need proof. I know my Redeemer lives.

 

Christ is Risen

That’s the importance of the day. Jesus the Christ is risen from the dead.

A few words on some of the symbolism, The term Easter comes from the old Anglo Saxon goddess of spring, although the only real mention is from the Venerable Bede. The egg being proscribed during Lent was offered in abundance at Easter and is an obvious metaphor for rebirth. There is some evidence for a hare hunt being traditional on Good Friday but, it’s a fairly obvious sign of “go forth, be fruitful, and multiply” anyway.

We have been talking this week about Jesus the leader, and his unflinching dedication to the death to his mission. On Easter, this mission is revealed. It finally becomes obvious that His mission (at this time, anyway) is not of the Earth and its princelings. It is instead a Kingdom of souls.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

And so we come to the crux of the matter. The triumph over original sin and death itself. For if you believe in the Christ and his message you will have eternal life. This is what set Christianity apart, the doctrine of grace. For if you truly repent of your sins, and attempt to live properly, you will be saved. Not by your works, especially not by your wars and killing on behalf of your faith, valid  and just though they may be,  but by your faith and your faith alone. For you serve the King of Kings.

And as we know, the Christ is still leading the mission to save the souls of all God‘s children. It is up to us to follow the greatest leader in history or not as we choose. We would do well to remember that our God is a fearsome God but, he is also a just God. We shall be judged entirely on our merits as earthly things fall away from us. So be of good cheer for the Father never burdens his people with burdens they cannot, with his help, bear.

As we celebrate the first sunrise after the defeat of darkness, Hail the King Triumphant for this is the day of His victory.

In response to an Easter post of mine, which was long ago, but seems like yesterday, Jessica commented that

I live in the UK, a particularly secular part of a secularising Continent; America has more of a sense of what this day means to mankind, and long may that be the case. For all the effects of the culture wars, America still has more Christians than anywhere outside of China, and Christianity is still vital. The shining city on the hill is no secular vision.

That is true, in my judgment, I have read the most vile attacks on Christians in Britain that I can imagine, and yet, in both our countries our governments have this bleak year closed our churches, leaving us to celebrate the happiest day of the year essentially alone. This too will in time pass, especially if we the people insist it does, and I see that happening. But that leaves us, in any case, with this:

“The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Washington and Westminster come far behind.

The other day, my old friend Chalcedon had cause to print the General Confession from The Book of Common Prayer.

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father;
We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.
We have offended against thy holy laws.
We have left undone those things which we ought to have done;
And we have done those things which we ought not to have done;
And there is no health in us.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.
Spare thou them, O God, who confess their faults.
Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

In that, we can see how we caused Good Friday but we can also see God’s response, made gloriously evident to the world today.

The Peace of the Lord be with you all.

 

To Gethsemane

jesus-in-gethsemane

And so, it is Maundy Thursday. Tonight it all comes together, the Last Supper, where that hard belief, that we consume the Real Presence, has sifted more than a few, then the faithlessness of all the Disciples, and the Betrayal of Jesus. This Holy Week, many are lamenting that we won’t be celebrating publically, as I do. But remember that the High Priest is with us wherever 3 or 4 gather in his name and that includes our family dinner table. It is a time for the basics and that includes remembering our Lord. In any case, in 2013 Jessica wrote about the evening, I think it one of her best, and more one of the best articles on Maunday Thursday I have read, so here it is, again.

There they had been, camping out as they usually did. We don’t get much of a sense of the daily life of Jesus as He and His disciples tramped the roads of Judea, but the Gospel narratives give us some insight. They settled down for the night in Gethsemane. They’d had a good evening, and only one person at that supper knew why Judas had left early. We get a sense of companionship, and we can grasp something of the feeling of love which Jesus inspired in those close to Him. They were calm and rested, so much so that when Jesus asked them to watch with Him, they fell asleep. Like us all, they had no idea that their world was about to be torn apart – and that the world and history would be changed forever.

How small a series of events came together that evening as they camped in Gethsemane. The Jewish High Priest had enough. The events of what we call Palm Sunday had warned him that the ever volatile population of Jerusalem might be roused to rebellion – and he knew what the consequences of that would be. Within a generation of the crucifixion Caiaphas’ fears had come to pass, and in AD 70 the Temple would be destroyed and thousands of Jews killed or dispersed; it is easy to dismiss Caiaphas, but he was, by his lights, doing his duty. How often do men of power think it better than one man should die than thousands suffer?

Judas had clearly had enough. Though the Synoptic Gospels tell us he betrayed Jesus for silver, John gives us the clue that it was Mary’s use of expensive oil to anoint Jesus’ feet which pushed him over the edge. It might, of course, be, as John said, that he had been tipping into the till and helping himself to money, but his taking offence was clear enough evidence of what type of man he was.  He was a zealot, a puritan – how dare Jesus allow people to waste oil which could have been spent to help the poor. He, Judas, knew what was right, and he had lost patience with Jesus.

Simon Peter was headstrong, and didn’t always get it right. After supper, when Jesus had said He was going to wash the feet of the disciples, Peter protested and said He wouldn’t allow it. But when Jesus told him that if he didn’t, he couldn’t be with Him, Peter didn’t ask for an explanation, he told Jesus he wanted to be washed all over.

Caiaphas and Judas reasoned their way through to a conclusion based on their own insights, and they saw, as we all do, only so far. Peter also reasoned his way to what seemed to him a sensible conclusion, but the love he felt for Jesus opened his heart and he saw further than he had with his intellect. Jesus warned him that he had been handed over to Satan to be ‘sifted’. Peter declared he never would deny Jesus – but Christ knew what was coming.

As the disciples slept and the Romans and the Jewish guard came closer, the silence of that dark night was broken only by the anguish of Jesus. His time had come.

Christ is Risen

That’s the importance of the day. Jesus the Christ is risen from the dead.

A few words on some of the symbolism, The term Easter comes from the old Anglo Saxon goddess of spring, although the only real mention is from the Venerable Bede. The egg being proscribed during Lent was offered in abundance at Easter and is an obvious metaphor for rebirth. There is some evidence for a hare hunt being traditional on Good Friday but, it’s a fairly obvious sign of “go forth, be fruitful, and multiply” anyway.

We have been talking this week about Jesus the leader, and his unflinching dedication to the death to his mission. On Easter this mission is revealed. It finally becomes obvious that His mission (at this time, anyway) is not of the Earth and it’s princelings. It is instead a Kingdom of souls.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

And so we come to the crux of the matter. The triumph over original sin and death itself. For if you believe in the Christ and his message you will have eternal life. This is what set Christianity apart, the doctrine of grace. For if you truly repent of your sins, and attempt to live properly, you will be saved. Not by your works, especially not by your wars and killing on behalf of your faith, valid  and just though they may be,  but by your faith and your faith alone. For you serve the King of Kings.

And as we know, the Christ is still leading the mission to save the souls of all God‘s children. It is up to us to follow the greatest leader in history or not as we choose. We would do well to remember that our God is a fearsome God but, he is also a just God. We shall be judged entirely on our merits as earthly things fall away from us. So be of good cheer for the Father never burdens his people with burdens they cannot, with his help, bear.

As we celebrate the first sunrise after the defeat of darkness, Hail the King Triumphant for this is the day of His victory.

The Peace of the Lord be with you all.

 

To Gethsemane

jesus-in-gethsemane

And so, it is Maundy Thursday. Tonight it all comes together, the Last Supper, where that hard belief, that we consume the Real Presence, has sifted more than a few, then the faithlessness of all the Disciples, and the Betrayal of Jesus. This Holy Week, many are pulling a parallel in the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, I think it likely valid, but too soon. In any case, in 2013 Jessica wrote about the evening, I think it one of her best, and more one of the best articles on Maunday Thursday I have read, so here it is, again.

There they had been, camping out as they usually did. We don’t get much of a sense of the daily life of Jesus as He and His disciples tramped the roads of Judea, but the Gospel narratives give us some insight. They settled down for the night in Gethsemane. They’d had a good evening, and only one person at that supper knew why Judas had left early. We get a sense of companionship, and we can grasp something of the feeling of love which Jesus inspired in those close to Him. They were calm and rested, so much so that when Jesus asked them to watch with Him, they fell asleep. Like us all, they had no idea that their world was about to be torn apart – and that the world and history would be changed forever.

How small a series of events came together that evening as they camped in Gethsemane. The Jewish High Priest had enough. The events of what we call Palm Sunday had warned him that the ever volatile population of Jerusalem might be roused to rebellion – and he knew what the consequences of that would be. Within a generation of the crucifixion Caiaphas’ fears had come to pass, and in AD 70 the Temple would be destroyed and thousands of Jews killed or dispersed; it is easy to dismiss Caiaphas, but he was, by his lights, doing his duty. How often do men of power think it better than one man should die than thousands suffer?

Judas had clearly had enough. Though the Synoptic Gospels tell us he betrayed Jesus for silver, John gives us the clue that it was Mary’s use of expensive oil to anoint Jesus’ feet which pushed him over the edge. It might, of course, be, as John said, that he had been tipping into the till and helping himself to money, but his taking offence was clear enough evidence of what type of man he was.  He was a zealot, a puritan – how dare Jesus allow people to waste oil which could have been spent to help the poor. He, Judas, knew what was right, and he had lost patience with Jesus.

Simon Peter was headstrong, and didn’t always get it right. After supper, when Jesus had said He was going to wash the feet of the disciples, Peter protested and said He wouldn’t allow it. But when Jesus told him that if he didn’t, he couldn’t be with Him, Peter didn’t ask for an explanation, he told Jesus he wanted to be washed all over.

Caiaphas and Judas reasoned their way through to a conclusion based on their own insights, and they saw, as we all do, only so far. Peter also reasoned his way to what seemed to him a sensible conclusion, but the love he felt for Jesus opened his heart and he saw further than he had with his intellect. Jesus warned him that he had been handed over to Satan to be ‘sifted’. Peter declared he never would deny Jesus – but Christ knew what was coming.

As the disciples slept and the Romans and the Jewish guard came closer, the silence of that dark night was broken only by the anguish of Jesus. His time had come.

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