The Wounds of Resurrection

Doubting ThomasAs my husband prepared for an Easter sermon a few weeks ago, our dinnertime conversations during Lent turned to Jesus’s appearance to the disciples after his resurrection, to the episode where poor Thomas is saddled with his unfortunate moniker. Carravaggio painted a terribly potent picture of Thomas probing Jesus’s wounds, his lord’s flesh curving over the doubter’s finger.

With its emphasis on suffering, broken bodies, deprivation, and wounds, Lent’s focus isn’t far from the realities since my father’s cancer diagnosis a year ago: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, the failure of his natural killer cells.

When you have a loved one with cancer, you enter the cloud of unknowing, or perhaps it’s a club of unknowing, a society of those wedged in the grief and emotional confusion that a non-linear illness brings to all who are involved. In this club you might become more familiar with the less famed side effects of chemo like neuropathy and a sensitivity to hot or cold, with the comments people make in an effort at sympathy, or with the ebb and flow of sadness, guilt, and normal life.

Lent puts us in mind of those wounds and scars, of bodies failing, of death. But when Easter comes, and we celebrate resurrection, it sometimes feels like those wounds are mended too quickly. Or perhaps they were never really healed. [Read more…]

Love Your Enemies for Lent

American FlagAnother campaign season is upon us with a vengeance. Actually it’s campaign seasons—since the U.S. presidential campaign goes on for over two years. That’s summer, fall, winter, spring, summer, fall, winter, spring, summer ,and the final (gasp) fall.

As for vengeance, this seems to increase with every four-year cycle. Could there possibly be more vengefulness articulated than we’ve been hearing these past months?

Which brings me to Lent. For years, during every Lent that coincides with a presidential campaign, my Lenten project has been to try to “love my enemies.” Enemies in this case are the politicians whose views and words disgust me. Terrify me. Yet I know that these people are all children of God.

In years past, I’ve failed in this Lenten practice. My self-righteousness and judgmental nature have gotten the better of me. But I’m trying yet again, because I’m convinced that this practice can be good for my soul. Lent is always a fresh opportunity to come closer to God, to become more like the person God wants me to be.

So, can I look at each of the presidential candidates—yes, even Donald Trump—and see a child of God? That’s my current Lenten challenge. [Read more…]

My Only Begotten Sin

11087699415_16fe60c2bb_zBecause I remain restless and impatient even in middle age, I am often only halfway listening to important things spoken of in church. Therefore, I can mishear what the priest is saying, sometimes to comical effect.

Like Bart Simpson, “In the Garden of Eden” becomes “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” I have heard “sex” for “sects” and “possums” for “apostles.” When I was a boy, for the longest time I thought “Agnus Dei” was the name of the woman up front who played the choir organ: “Agnes Day.” [Read more…]

Remember You Are Dust

2247224657_b244833cff_zThere is no greater materialist than a Christian observing Lent. You get ashes smeared on your forehead. You hear words like, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Those words are from the Book of Genesis.

This Biblical thought about dust and the dustiness of all living things is taken up again in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes:

I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.

 For that which befalleth the sons of man befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.

 All go into one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. [Read more…]

Exercises for Lent

Health Club TreadmillsAn evangelical mutt, I have only in the past few years discovered the allure of the liturgical season, and I dabble in the traditions as my whims dictate.

This Lent, I told my husband, we shall be giving up all of our little indulgences: coffees and meals out and little snacks. That should set us up for being nice and spiritual, plus it will be hard enough that we feel it, but not so hard that we are actually tempted to despair.

But, despite all of my good intentions, I kept hearing a still small voice telling me to focus on my body, on what is happening within me, for the next forty days.

[Read more…]


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