Hope is only sleeping…

"God is dead." -Friedrich Nietzsche Three words - nine letters - out of 174 pages in Nietzsche's The Gay Science may be the best-known declaration in all of philosophy. Nietzsche's statement was a philosophical declaration, not a historical one. In his esteemed estimation, Enlightenment rationality had put an end to man's need for God. Eighteen centuries before the German philosopher's frank pronouncement, on a Saturday in Jerusalem, the death of God was not a philosophical proposition but a stark reality. The man who declared the Kingdom of God present at hand had fallen victim to the Kingdom of Caesar. The teacher who called his followers to non-resistance, non-retaliation, and the extra-mile kept his own advice and became a victim of Roman brutality. The man who had healed fevers and lepers by the power of God lay dead in a rock tomb - the very definition of unhealed. For three years, Jesus's 12 disciples and a rag-tag band of devoted hangers-on had come to believe the impossible: that God had finally come to save his people, restore sovereignty to Israel, and take his rightful place on the throne of David. Jesus inspired impossible hope and impossible belief in his followers. The crushing grip of impossibility and

By |April 15th, 2017|

Allies: a Good Friday Meditation

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. Matthew 27:1-2 Hours of testimony before the convened body of the religious ruling elite had done little to move Jesus closer to the conviction they wanted. In the previous week, Jesus had turned over their tables, embarrassed their teachers of the law, and won the hearts of the people with his teaching about the Kingdom of God. But you can't very well kill a man for that. So, deep in the night at the High Priests home, the final charge was blasphemy (speaking sacrilegiously about God), the verdict was guilty, and the sentence was death. The privilege of capital punishment belonged to Rome alone, so the Jewish leaders dissipated the adversarial relationship between High Priest and Caesar in the interest of common cause. The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate would have little interest in blasphemy, but the charge of treason would force his hand, so Jesus stood before him accused of claiming to be King of the Jews. Pilate did what politicians do, he squirmed, he

By |April 14th, 2017|

Understood: A Holy Week meditation for Thursday

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” John 13:12 Jerusalem was buzzing as the Passover - the celebration of deliverance by the direct intervention of the Almighty - approached. As the disciple's Messianic hopes focused on Jesus, there must have been more than a little anticipation. "What a perfect time for our Messiah to rise up and throw off the yoke of Roman oppression! We're ready, and when he does, we'll be at the head of the pack and the top of the mountain!" At an intimate dinner on Thursday of Jesus's final week, amid the rising crescendo of his friend's hopes and expectations, the One they hoped would dethrone Caesar stooped to wash their feet. How undignified. In the hours that followed, their confusion expanded as their hopes deflated. "This is my body, which is for you..." "This cup is the new covenant in my blood..." "He who has shared my bread will turn against me..." Before sunrise, the one they hoped in had been arrested, and in a few more hours, condemned to death. Maundy

By |April 13th, 2017|

Turned Over: a Holy Week meditation for Monday

Christ Driving the Money Changers out of the Temple by Valentin De Boulogne   Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. Mark 11:13-14 The first tree mentioned in the Bible is the Tree of Life. The second tree is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve had forsaken the one by partaking of the other, they made their way to the third tree mentioned by name in scripture - the fig tree, its leaves sewn together as a makeshift covering for their newly discovered nakedness. Soon enough before they left the Garden, their leafy self-covering would be replaced with an animal skin fashioned by God himself. The fig leaf was humanity's imperfect attempt to do what God would do perfectly later on. In time, the fig tree came to symbolize the nation of Israel, the people called out by God to dwell righteously

By |April 10th, 2017|