Looking to Heaven: Eastertide

Jesus went to heaven, and the disciples would have liked to have stayed there.

Looking at the heavens.

Just like the transfiguration.

Let’s move in, we are ready for heaven.

Or at least we can spend all the time with the pure ones, the disciples, the ones in the know.

And Jesus said, don’t worry I’m going to send you to the ends of the earth, don’t worry I’m going to give you a million Easters, 2,000 years to learn; 2,000 years of grace.

Talk about a grace period for one’s debts.

Many weeks and Sunday for Easter to unfold into your hearts, and your children’s hearts and your children’s children’s children’s house.

I’m going to give you time to learn how to be community.

I’m going to leave you with my one commandment, love one another.

Stop looking at heaven, the answer isn’ there.

Look to earth, to the relationships.

Nothing will ever be the same again: Temples & Resurrection

Jesus promises that nothing will ever be the same again.

But no one understands: Neither rabbis nor the government, neither his family nor the disciples.

But that is the word of Jesus: nothings will ever be the same again.

And then he tears down the temple: time shatters as a side effect.

The sky goes dark, the minutes become slippery and the future melts into the past.

Jesus promises that nothing will ever be the same again

And Lazarus knows it when he is resurrected from the dead, so does Jairus’ daughter.

Because after Resurrection, not one stone will remain upon another.

After Resurrection, everything changes in the world and the entire world is changed.

They are not the same people, and their relationships will change.

What is an apocalypse? It is the uncovering of what is real, and what is rote.

Why is it an apocalypse? Because it’s about time we wake up and pay attention.

As things crumble away, money becomes meaningless and hugs become everything.

Power desinigrates, but conversations become lifesaving.

Jesus promises that nothing will ever be the same again.

And we pray for that, when we pray thy kingdom come, thy will be done.

(As things change, as every single thing we do changes from work, to family, too finances. As this moment becomes a part of the social conscious memory, let us acknowledge that maybe it’s good that nothing will ever be the same again.

Maybe priorities will change, maybe relationships will strengthen, maybe the things that are breaking were already on the brink and it’s time to change the way we do those things: elder care, disabled care, work/life balance, the value of essential work, the need for healing, the way my health is wrapped up in your health, the way my money is economy up in your economy, the way my shalom is wrapped up in your shalom.)

We can taste the kingdom on our tongues, not because Jesus is coming tomorrow, but because has already been here.

And we, living in the grace of 2,000 plus years post Jesus, are just now realizing that nothing truly will ever be the same again. But the temple is being rebuilt, this too Jesus promises.

It won’t be the same temple, but the temple will be rebuilt.

Thanks be to God, for the good news.

More Prayer Resources

Easter/Resurrection Links of Prayer

 

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Invitation to be Raised by Rev. Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl

Feel free to use/edit. Credit to the original author (i.e. based on prayer/prayers written by Rev Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl) appreciated.

Luke 24:1-12 and Psalm 118: 17, 21-24 or Psalm 118:20 

Call to Worship/Opening Prayer

Option A: Gospel

Bring us to your place of resurrection, Lord.

Perplex us. Terrify us. Make us remember.

Send us out to tell the good news.

Bring us back to see for ourselves.

Amaze us by what has happened, and by what continues to happen.

Make us your resurrection people.

Option B: Gospel

We are perplexed when Christ Jesus is not in the tomb.When confronted by your messengers, we are moved to worship.They tell us we are looking for the living among the dead and testify to who Jesus is and what he has promised.Confront us. Speak to us. Fulfill your promises to us.Embolden us to carry Easter news to the world:Christ is risen!   ALL: Christ is risen indeed!

Option C: Psalm

I shall not die, but I shall live

I shall recount the deeds of the Lord.

I thank you that you have answered me and become my salvation.

The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

This is the Lord’s doing

It is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day that the Lord has made.

Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Prayer of Confession

God, many times we do not pay attention to the tales of what you do. We think they are idle nonsense, full of wishful thinking and overactive imaginings. We are afraid to believe them. We don’t want to be ridiculed or disappointed. When we do not see you, we think that you are missing-in-action. We expect death and tombs, not resurrection and new life. Often we do not remember what you have promised or what you have done. We think that you acted in other times and place, not our own, or we want to be in charge of how and when and why you are act. Forgive us, Lord, and help our unbelief.

Easter Litany

(Possibly for Communion)

One; On this Easter morning,

Many: on this day of resurrection,

ALL: O Lord, raise us up.

One: As Jesus rose up from the grave.

Many: and Peter rose up to go and see

ALL: O Lord, raise us up.

One: Raise us up to the surface

Many: where we can breathe.

One; Raise us up to the mountain

Many: where you can be seen and heard.

ALL: O Lord, raise us up.

One: Raise us up from the tomb

Many: renouncing the old life in favor of the new.

One: Raise us up in mutiny against the powers of evil

Many: resisting hate and injustice.

One: Raise us up in rebellion against all that would separate and divide

Many: Straighten us up in the face of overwhelming threats

ALL O Lord, raise us up.

One: Raise us up from death.

Many: Raise us up with your burgeoning life.

One: Raise us up with your effervescent Spirit.

Many: As your resurrection people

ALL: O Lord, raise us up.

More Narrative Lectionary Lenten Themed Prayers  

Surprise!?! #diversity, #love and #easter #reclaimholyweek

Christ is Risen

Christ is Risen, Indeed!

What a funny recitation, its as if we don’t believe eachtother that Christ was resurrection, as if its a surprise to us.

Its only sort of a surprise, it reminds me of a Stenta Surprise ( my husband and various members of that family)

The Stenta side of the family is not that good at surprises…they hate to be on the receiving end of surprises.

Usually surprises go like this

I tell my son we have a surprise for me huband

Something like, “I got a Phillies keychain for your dad, but Shh! Its a surprise

Why don’t you go and give it to him and tell him its a surprise” (all in my husband’s hearing)

That is usually as close to a surprise we try to get…

Surprises are funny, though, because they are about how you feel.

You can be expecting something, and still be surprised when it happens.

Ex: You are trying to get pregnant, and then SURPRISE! you are …

On the one hand you were trying to get pregnant…on the other hand that realization is a surprise.

The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, ‘Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, “After three days I will rise again.” Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day; otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people, “He has been raised from the dead”, and the last deception would be worse than the first.’ Pilate said to them, ‘You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can.’ So they went with the guard and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone. Matthew 27: 62-66

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In Matthew’s verison, everyone knows that Jesus is supposed to rise from the dead….

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. Matt 27:1

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Some people even believe it

And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.” This is my message for you.’ So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’ Matt:28:2-10

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Even those who believe it are suprised by the appearance of Christ….

Why is that? I think its because, the faith journey is one of surprises. One where, in retrospect things make sense, but you believe and work at faith, but still can be surprised by just how amazing God is.

This is why its so hard to recognize Christ when he appears.

This is why, even though we hope & pray for it, we would be surprised if Christ showed up today.

And there is some kind of essence to this surprise/to this faith. This surprise is a part of who and what we are.

I bet if you asked Mary and Mary why they went to the tomb, they would say “I don’t know” I bet if you ask someone why they went to church that day, mostly they wouldn’t know.

Yet here we are at Easter, and all of us have gathered at the tomb

to experience the resurrection

To tell the news to one another

Christ is Risen

He is Risen indeed

This conversation, the one we have to review yearly, monthly, weekly through worship, is the very conversation that makes church because God surprises us. God’s fullness cannot be witnessed in one mere human being. We think too small. Even in the Gospels we have not one, but many accounts of what happened to Christ. None of them are considered “wrong” instead, they are considered to give us some perspective and scope of who God is and just how full, deep and wide God’s love is for us.

This happens only as we witness too and share our experiences, in essence having the same conversation

Christ is risen? (eyebrows up)

Christ is risen, Christ is risen, Indeed (affirmative tone)

Indeed, Christ is Risen (more strongly)

Then many voices, affirming the same thing, in different ways, Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen indeed.

Church is so that conversation (as opposed to becoming an echo chamber) becomes a rich and diverse reflection of who Christ is, and what Christ means for humanity

And that diversity, richness, depth of love and sacrifice–even though we saw it coming. Often God’s love takes us by surprise

#easter #smallchurch #emptytomb #emptychurch #nextchurch

Church-Mostly-Empty-Pews

And then all the Christians looked at the church, the pitifully empty pews, and asked each other. Where have all the people gone?

But the real question they were asking was where is Jesus? Akin to finding the empty tomb, we can see the emptiness, the absence……and we say to one another “‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” and weep.

And then Jesus meets us on the road, in the “real world” and instructs us not to dwell by the emptiness but to go and tell people that he has arisen.

Empty Church, pshaw, it is but the beginning of the resurrection story–Go on, go out it the world and tell them, wherever they are

“I have seen the lord” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

John 20

 

20Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look* into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew,* ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Narrative Lectionary: Thoughts on John 4:46-54

Restoration: from the Latin seriously it actually is 😉

restore – Online Etymology Dictionary

Restoration c.1300, “to give back,” also, “to build up again, repair,” from Old French restorer, from Latin restaurare “repair, rebuild, renew,

Katy’s Definition to simultaneously destroy and resurrect something at the same time

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God Restores us, healing our hearts AND binding our wounds: Forget Ps 140, I’m using Ps. 147:3
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kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken pottery by filling the cracks with amalgam mixed with powdered gold, I was awestruck. Kintsugi is translated as “golden joinery,”  The new, reformed whole contains both the remembrance of that which was before and also what is now – something that had been broken into pieces and is now reformed, containing the additional joining amalgam that is noticeable and traceable.

Viewing kintsugi pottery brought to mind how quickly Western culture discards the broken – broken objects, broken people, and broken relationships. We fail to see what the broken might look like if we put the resources into mending the broken.

Katy’s Synonyms Kintsugi, Restoration, (w)holistic Christianity, Shalom, Fullness, Overflowing, Give me your tired/poor/hungry, Brokenhearts, wholeness, complete,  Image

What a great Valentine’s Day text (love it when it works out that way!)

There is a Balm in Gilead folks!

“I believe that…

“I believe that the divisions between these aspects of Christ’s person and life are artificial. All three Christological aspects (incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection) are a part of the answer to human brokenness. As incarnate, Christ demonstrated that human bodies and experiences are not inimical to intimate relationship with God. As crucified, Christ showed that God understands and participates in human pain, suffering and even in mortality. As resurrected, Christ manifested God’s power over that pain, suffering and death. To share in the Lord’s Supper is to share with Christ Jesus in all these aspects of his person and life.” –Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl PCUSA Pastor

Communion, the real deal

I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst” and “I am the vine, you are the branches. Cut off from me you can do nothing,” both of which emphasize the relationship between believers and Christ without specifically including Christ’s body.[1]

 

his body as a living sacrifice and his use of common things, including bread and wine, to bless and heal, reconcile, and bind people together, and also to exhibit “the grace, power, and presence of the Kingdom of God.”


 

Dear Child: Faith is a journey. –Love God

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Faith is a journey, and sometimes that journey isn’t an easy one.

But as we learn more and more about Jesus, here is what we learned

1. Jesus did ministry on the move. You notice that Jesus is almost always making his way between cities? Sure Israel is the size of the New Jersey but the journey from Jerusalem to Galilee is about 240 miles, and Jesus walked that more than once.

2. Jesus believed in packing light, but he also believed in good traveling companions—Jesus asks us to take no extra baggage, but to always remember to take a friend, so if you are considering going on a visit for church, pursuing ministry or just doing something new in your spiritual life, Jesus recommends doing it with someone else. (which is why I advocate Co-Pastorships)

3. The Holy Spirit guides us—just as it guided Jesus Christ, we need to remember that we are following Christ’s footsteps, and we have the best guide, we just need to take the time to listen to what God is doing.

4. Its called walking in “Jesus’s Footsteps” not “Sitting in Jesus’s Pews.” My Church’s Farmer’s Market has been a giant step outside of our sanctuary (which is sad that this is a big step, nevertheless its great we’ve done-so) , but we need to figure out where Christ is going, and how to follow him there (as opposed to say, staying where we are and assuming that God wants us to stay there forever)

5. Jesus took Sabbath: Jesus escaped the crowds, he rode boats, he ate with friends, he prayed alone. He found ways to take a break for himself and his ministry, so that he could recharge for the next one.

6. Jesus did not have a checklist. Jesus did not have any requirements for following him—he did not require gold, food or certain characteristics. You can bet one of the disciples was the person who always complained about everything, and another one was that nice but not too bright person, and that one of them had a mental illness, one of them was socially awkward and one of them talked incessantly, while another wouldn’t talk at all. Yet Jesus invited them all to journey with him. He didn’t even require belief (instead he fostered it). He just asked people to come exactly as they were.

What can we do?

Recently I’ve been thinking about how to better meet and get to know the community. What are their needs? What are their prayer concerns?

Maybe we should have a prayer concern board out at the farmer’s market. Maybe we should have projects to thank all those who serve the community (nurses, EMTs, police, Firefighters), maybe we should fundraise for the poor, maybe we should give out free meals, maybe we should grow our own garden to donate fresh food, maybe we should provide a space for people to pray—as you can I’m full of ideas. In fact, at times I get carried away, and it can be overwhelming for others. But, I am confident that we have important things to do, and we are capable to do them!

Being Christmassed

“That’s What Christmas is all about Charlie Brown” last night, in the face of tragedy, we put on Charlie Brown Christmas to 60 people. Many of them children: children who laughed at Snoopy, marvelled at Linus’ blanket, and tried to tell Charlie Brown where to get his tree “It’s over there!” It was a moment of innocence and hope. With all of Charlie Brown’s searching for hope it is ultimately understand Christmas “and the angels were singing Glory to God in the highest and on earth Peace and Goodwill toward Man.” Charlie Brown who is so often mistreated and depressed is able to be “Christmassed” (yes that is the verb for feeling the true meaning of Christmas–and it often sneaks up on you). And because Charlie Brown found hope in Christ, I did too…I also went through his hopelessness, his loneliness–ending in the sad, dead tree being alone on the stage. But, then the heavenly voice came down, then Angels started to sing about the glory of God. And when hope seemed to be God, the tree was resurrected, decorated and brought back in all of its glory. If a tree can be resurrected then surely brave teachers, small children here and in China can be too!

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Mister Rogers

Hopefully we too can be part of the helpers