Tag Archives: Messiah

Wonder

15 Jan
Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The Word

Photo via Flickr user Waiting For The Word

The characters in Jesus’ story who have captured my imagination this week are the wise men, or magi, or kings. We think if these men as learned and wealthy, that with their titles and expensive gifts. They are not the type of folks we typically imagine packing up their things at the sight of a star to head off to the unknown hoping to meet a new king. Yet this is exactly what they do.

These men were clearly waiting for a Messiah and hoping he would come soon. Their hope and excitement urged them to take a chance on this particular star.

What was it about this star they saw that convinced them to pack up and take a quest? Are they foolish or brilliant? Did other men scoff at them, sighting reason and logic that so often override our wonder and awe?

We so often make the mistake of replacing wonder with knowledge. We pit science and religion against each other. We see God getting smaller instead of bigger as we learn more about the universe. Yet we are living in an exciting age where science is re-embracing wonder. We are curious about multiple universes and admitting the more we know the more we realize we don’t know. We are embracing wonder as the beginning of wisdom.

I think these men have something to teach me. They are inviting me back to a place of wonder where I can encounter God. Their journey to pay tribute to this baby shows humility, wonder, openness, and hope that I want to embody in my faith life. They show the lengths they are willing to travel, literally, to encounter God. In addition to keeping their noses in their books, they also turn their faces to the sky, recognizing that faith requires both our intellect and our wonder, our ideas and our willingness to be in authentic relationship. They understand that part of worshipping God entails taking risks and venturing into the unknown. They know they are on a sacred journey and remind me that I am, too.

 

Gospel Reflection for September 13, 2015, 24th Sunday Ordinary Time

9 Sep
Photo via Flickr user *Nom *Malc

Photo via Flickr user *Nom & Malc

Sunday Readings: Isaiah 50.5-9; James 2.14-18; Mark 8.27-35

“Who do you say that I am?”

(Mark 8.29)

Mark’s gospel explores how the faith of Jesus’ disciples matures.  For all of us faith develops across the life cycle.  As children, our brains limit our understanding.  As adolescents, we share the faith  of our families, neighbors, and the church in which we grow up.  As adults, some of us never examine the faith we receive.

Peter professes Jesus is the Messiah in answer to the question, “Who do you say that I am?”  But when Jesus predicts his suffering and death, Peter objects and clings to his received idea that the Messiah will be a great warrior who restores Israel as a nation.  Only Jesus’ death destroys Peter’s idea.  His resurrection radically transforms his disciples’ understanding.

Ultimately faith transforms us into the one we follow.  For Mark, faith is a transforming lifelong practice, not just an idea.

How do you respond to Jesus’ question?

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AND

10 Apr
Photo via Flickr user Sean MacEntee

Photo via Flickr user Sean MacEntee

Happy Easter to you! He is risen indeed, Alleluia.

During Jesus’ lifetime, people believed that when the Messiah came there would be peace in all nations. The Messiah would usher in a Messianic Age filled with prosperity and healing. Wars would end, boundaries would dissolve, and all would be well. They expected a power that more closely resembled kingly power on earth– big, gloating, sparkling.

If Jesus was the Messiah, then with his presence there should have been peace. The world should have changed, but it didn’t.

The women who went to see Jesus’ tomb knew this about the world. They knew that Jesus pushed enough political buttons to get killed. They knew the reality of crucifixion, and they knew that once you died you stayed dead. Jesus died, and the world didn’t change.

Despite all of this, the women went to the tomb. They knew better, they knew the dead stay dead, but they went anyway. And something had happened. It wasn’t what anyone expected, but it was real. The tomb was empty. No body. Death did not get the last word. In Ben Cieslik’s Easter sermon, he reminded me that Matthew said the women left with fear and great joy. As he said, Easter is a mixed bag.

Like these women who loved Jesus, we are called in this season of Easter to live with that same fear and great joy.

We celebrate Easter year in and year out, praying for the Messianic Age, praying for peace, for the world to change. Like people in Jesus’ time, we want Easter to mean that the world will be a little bit less of a scary place. But it hasn’t changed. The world is still broken and hurting. There will continue to be people senselessly murdered, more planes will crash, violence will continue to escalate in age old conflicts. Tomorrow’s world will look eerily similar to today’s world. But there is fear and great joy. The tomb is empty. Death does not win. This place will not be our resting place. This Easter, in fear and great joy, we hold onto the promise of the empty tomb. We trust that in the end, peace and love will be all we know.

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