Touch and See for Yourself

Post resurrection, my new favorite disciple is Thomas.  It would be my luck that when Jesus showed up I would have been the one that drew the short straw and had to go get the groceries for everyone while we were holed up behind locked doors trying to stay safe for fear of the same thing happening to Jesus happening to us.  Yep, I can see it now.  Returning with the bread and olives and everyone being a chatter.  Then after hearing the news, I imagine I would pronounce, much like Thomas, “No way!  I’ll believe it when I see it.”

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Have you ever prayed, “God just give me a sign.”  I’ve done that as recently as this last week, in fact.  Just show me something tangible that proves you are listening to me.  Or a sign that shows the way you want me to go.  Or a sign that shows you are real and I am not just talking to myself.  There are moments when I really relate to Thomas.

And I draw comfort from Jesus’ response even though he is a little harsh with Thomas.  He knows that he can’t present himself to every follower that will come and so people will have to start believing on their own and he articulates that.  But he also looks at Thomas and says,

27“Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!”28 Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” – John 20:27-28

It was the same thing he offered all of the disciples a week earlier.  “Come and see for yourselves.” (Luke 24:39)  But Thomas’ response is the best.  A complete submission to Jesus as Lord and Savior of his life.  When he finally understands, he’s all in!

By the way, I did get my sign this past week.  When I woke up Tuesday morning and read my morning devotions, it had three scripture passages for me to read – none of which seemed to go together.  Tears began rolling down my cheek as I saw the complete answer to my prayers of the moment come into focus and gave thanks for a God who even when I doubt, is always listening.  My Lord and my God.  And that is the power of reading Scripture on a daily basis.  You may read it mostly for general edification of your spirit but then you have the vehicle in place for when you really need to be shaped by God in what is going on in your particular life.

We have entered the Easter season.  We celebrate the resurrected Jesus – the message of hope that brings us deep and abiding joy.  I offer you this prayer that Joyce Rupp has offered me in my devotions each morning.  I hope it is as meaningful to you as it is to me as we discover the resurrected Jesus appearing in our lives.

Praise to you, My risen Redeemer, who keeps on challenging the doubt in me, who perceives the Thomas in me and allows me those graceful times when I, too, can put my fingers into the signs and wounds of my everyday life and there come in contact with you.

Praise to you, my risen Lord, who keeps on meeting me in the garden of my life, who keeps on calling my name, allowing me to feel loved, blessed and cherished.

Praise to you, risen Jesus, who walks with me on the Emmaus journey, coaxing the ache out of me, comforting and strengthening me with the intimate presence of yourself.

Praise to you, my risen Savior, who surprises me on the sandy beaches of my so often planned and programmed life, inviting me to come and taste what you have prepared.  Time after time, you nourish me with all that I need to carry your risen presence with me, where I go and to whomever I meet.    -Joyce Rupp Fresh Bread and Other Spiritual Nourishment

My Lord and my God.

Easter Blessings,

Lory Beth

Good Friday?

What’s good about Good Friday?  It’s a weird name for such a dark day in the Christian calendar.  It is the Friday before Easter when Jesus was crucified.  It is the day the Bible tells us that turned dark by noon and by 3:00 Jesus took his last breath.  It’s the day that the people killed the Messiah.  So what’s so good about it?Good-Friday-2016-Hd-Images

Theologically it is good because it represents the culmination of God’s plan to save and love us.  Jesus’ terrible death was a perfect sacrifice for the sins of humanity.  It also set up the perfect scenario for Jesus to overcome death and evil in this world by showing an unstoppable divine power beyond human ability.  God accomplished beautiful and good things out of a dark moment in human history.

But why do we call it good?  Disappointingly, the origin is unclear but refrences to the phrase are found as early as 1200.  Some say it’s because of the theological reasons listed above.  Most believe it was a corruption of the phrase “God’s Friday”.  Here is an interesting look at different phrases different languages use to name this day I learned from the BBC. Notice the language similarities between Good and God. I think it makes the case for the pronunciation shift.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, first published in 1907, states that the term’s origins are not clear. It says some sources see its origins in the term “God’s Friday” or Gottes Freitag, while others maintain that it is from the German Gute Freitag. It notes that the day was called Long Friday by the Anglo-Saxons and is referred to as such in modern Danish.  It also says that the day is known as “the Holy and Great Friday” in the Greek liturgy, “Holy Friday” in Romance Languages and Karfreitag (Sorrowful Friday) in German.  http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27067136

Regardless of the origins of its name, it is a powerful day and one of my favorite services of the year.  (Although last night’s foot washing service was so very powerful as we humbled ourselves to allow someone to wash our feet and then took on the role of servant to wash another’s feet.  Powerful.)  Tonight we worship with a service of Tenebrae or darkness where we will hear the Passion story put to music.  We will sit in darkness and spend some time with the painful reality that our divine but also human Savior, Jesus, genuinely suffered a terrible death on a cross.  And that makes all the difference in the world.

I hope you will find some time to mark this day in some way.  To worship (our service at Centenary will be at 7:00 PM).  To read or hear the passion story from the Gospels.  To consider the symbol of the cross and why it matters.  To consider the gift of love this tragic day represents.  And to see the good in it all.

Grace and Peace,

Lory Beth