Friday, April 29, 2011

So what about you???....some further thoughts on John 20:1-19.

Thomas' confession is about "my" Lord and "my" God, not "the" Lord and "the" God. He is not claiming allegiance to a particular confessional statement or assenting to a dogma. Rather Thomas is claiming a relationship with Jesus, a relationship that defines itself in the 'Lordship' of Jesus and the divine nature of Jesus.

Thomas' confession is key to this passage. Knowing that the Gospel writer's are always including their hearers and readers in the story, it is obvious that John is asking the question of us: 'Are you are also able to make this same confession?' ...and then allow the confession to live in you and you in the confession. Thomas' confession "My Lord and My God." changes things. It changes Thomas. It changes those who hear his confession. It changes those who come in contact with him as the truth of this confession effects changes in him and his life. For no longer is Thomas' relationship with Jesus one of intellectual agreement. Now it is of the heart and the spirit as well.

So what about you????

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just who are you???

A common theme in the resurrection stories is that Jesus appears to those who are closest to him, that is the people who know and love him, but they do not recognize him. Mary at the tomb. The disciples on the road to Emmaus. Even the disciples in the upper room see him as ghost. So is it any wonder that Thomas, not having had the opportunity to 'see' Jesus as the others, demands physical proof.

In some ways Thomas' actions threaten us and that is one reason why we quite easily take the high ground of self-righteous indignation. "How dare Thomas make such a demand." "How pathetic is his faith." "Doubting Thomas". But the truth is, that like Thomas, we also struggle with the desire for proof. We want to pin down reasons for things. "Why did God allow this happen?" "How could a loving God do such a thing?" In the deep recesses of faith, even when times are good, the question of God, his existence, his purpose, still lurks. Like Thomas, unless we see the wounds and stick our hand into his side, we find it hard to believe.

Maybe we should thank Thomas...or see him as one disciple who is supremely honest. He voices his doubts and openly asks of God his hearts desire. And when Jesus confronts him that day, only Thomas exclaims and proclaims the fullness of Christ's divine nature and purpose...

"My Lord and My God!"

A little more Thomas in each of us might not be such a bad thing after all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Maundy Thursday...maundy from mandate or love one another...a new commandment...but it is also about life being stripped away...about serving...suffering...dying. The ultimate self-denial.

Good Friday...God's Friday...sorrow or celebration? Persecution or proclamation of victory.

Easter Day...yet to come.


What do all the words mean?

Happy Easter??!!!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

“What is it you want me to do for you?”

As I was preparing for this Sunday I came across this sermon by the Rev Grace Imathiu based on John 11:1-45. I was so moved by it that I am posting it here for you.

"Bethany: A Glimpse of Kingdom Living"

A man named Lazarus is ill. You know what that’s like: itchy throat, watery eyes, clammy skin, high fever, can’t keep anything down. Lazarus is ill. And his illness is not just another bug going around. This illness plans to kill him. His two sisters, Mary and Martha, send a message to Jesus It’s a one liner: “Your friend is ill.”

What a message! What a surprising message. I’ll tell you why: the message does not request anything. It simply informs Jesus of the condition. But, whenever Jesus meets someone with a need, he often poses the question: What is it you want me to do for you? No presumptions from Jesus, no second guessing.

Take for instance, when he met blind Bartimeaus. Jesus asked the blind man, “What is it you want me to do for you?” It doesn’t mean that just because he was blind he wanted sight. Bartimeaus might have asked for a new coat. And remember the man ill at the pool for thirty-eight years? Jesus asked him “What is it you want me to do for you?” Who knows? He could have requested winning the pool lottery! Jesus is constantly asking, “What is it you want me to do for you?”

So here is the question for you: What is it you want from Jesus? Mary and Martha: What is it you want Jesus to do for you?

You see, the Jesus question—“What do you want me to do for you?”—is in actuality not a question but an invitation. Jesus invites us into partnership in our healing. Jesus invites us to articulate our hope. Jesus invites us to dare speak out loud our yearning. Say it, risk it, saying what is it you want from Jesus.
But Martha and Mary do not request anything from Jesus. They do not say “Send Lazarus a healing word with just your speaking.” They do not say, “Come right away!” They only say, “Lord, your friend is ill.”

If Jesus reads between the single line of the message, we don’t know. He simply says, “Hmmm…no rush.” And he continues doing his ministry for three days. How unlike the friends I have, he who hears one of his best friends is sick and he stays put! And two days of staying put, Lazarus gets from bad to worse; and then from worse to dead.

Here’s what I’m thinking: perhaps the question that Lazarus’ illness poses is a question of power. In other words, “Who’s got the power in this text?” Who in this text says “jump” and we all ask how high? Who calls the shots in this text? Who sets the agenda? And know this: nobody, not even empires give up power that easily. No one gives up power on a silver platter. So there is a power struggle in this text between Jesus and death itself. Because you see, Jesus knows that if we live or if we die, we belong to God.

When word comes of Lazarus’ death, Jesus then begins his journey to Bethany to Lazarus’ grave. Some among us might say it’s too late now. Lazarus is dead there is nothing more to do. But Dead End signs do not deter Jesus. He keeps on walking, even when there is absolutely nothing in the horizon that smacks of hope.
At Bethany’s gate, Jesus is met by Martha who informs him that he not only missed Lazarus in the ICU, he missed Lazarus’ funeral. And I bet you if the phrase had been coined then, Martha would have said of Jesus’ arrival, “Too little, too late!”
Then Mary comes to meet Jesus. She goes to Jesus and falls on her knees before him. This time she is a woman whose alabaster jar is her very heart. And broken-hearted, she falls at Jesus’ feet and empties her heart’s tears. Tears more overpowering than costly nard drenching the Rabbi’s dusty, sandaled feet. Hoarse with weeping, she must have whispered it, “Lord, if you had been here, our little brother would not have died!”

And I don’t know whether it was her words, whether it was her posture, or whether it was her tears because something broke the Son of God’s own alabaster heart. And we are told Jesus wept. It amazes me that many of us no longer weep. Pictures of children dying of hunger, we change the channel. Stats of children left orphaned by HIV/AIDS bore us. Some say it is compassion fatigue. Some say our hearts have been hardened by our suspicions. Some say it is our tears that are hidden. Some say we no longer know how to weep. We are shell shocked and drugged.

Jesus wept. This ain’t no sign of weakness! Tears are a sign that one is alive. Tears are a sign that we have not given up yet. Jesus wept. And then after his weeping everything shifts. “Take me to the place where you have laid him,” he says.
They take him there. “Move the stone!” he tells them. You gotta be kidding! Even the dead man’s sister says there is love and then there are the practical things of life and death. Four days dead is not nice!

But Jesus still insists: “Move the stone!” I can see them working a sweat as they push on that stone, interrupting the order of things as we know them. But this is Bethany and anything and everything can change in Bethany.

And after a prayer, Jesus cries out calling Lazarus by name, “Lazarus! Come Out!” And there he walks, the resurrected man still wearing dead man’s clothes. Jesus tells the community, “Unbind him and let him go!” And they do.
Jesus will not be rushed by death. Jesus will not allow death’s threat to set his agenda. And it is only when death has done its dirty deed that Jesus gets ready to do battle. When it looks like game over, that’s when Jesus says, “Let’s roll!” Death, having exhausted its intimidating weapons of fear, anxiety, depression, all having been exhausted and that is when, wearing us down with sorrow and dead ends, death will have to reckon with Jesus.

And now, receive a benediction someone passed on to me: May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war so that you may reach out my hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that, through your love, you can make a difference in this world so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. Amen.

Friday, April 01, 2011

And the blind receive their sight....

John 9 tells the story of Jesus and the man born blind. Very early in the account Jesus heals the man and from that point on the story is about the many other blind people that surround Jesus and this man. The neighbours...the Pharisees...the man's parents...all suffer from blindness of one kind or another. There is a real irony in the fact that it is through the healing of this blind man that the blindness of others is revealed.