BREAKING: Jesus Defeats Death!

Happy Easter, everyone! Just wanted to share this completely awesome sketch by Paul Soupiset for the forthcoming Animate.Bible resource. Of course, it’s a variation of the famous Dewey Defeats Truman headline, and it couldn’t be more appropriate for today.

Here’s the link to the image, if you want to share it yourselves.

And, again, Happy Easter!

He Died for You

Many Christians struggle to understand this day, Good Friday. We’re told, “Jesus died for you,” and “Jesus died for your sins.” And that makes perfect sense for many years.

And then, at some point, most of us ask, But how does that work? By what cosmic calculus does the death of one man mean that I am not accountable for my sins any longer?

I’ve written extensively about this question, including an ebook: A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin. And now it seems that my next major, hardcover book with a publisher will also be on this topic (more on this soon).

We also collected some wonderful posts at this season’s #progGOD Challenge, “Why A Crucifixion?” For example,

Kimberly Knight: Washed in His Blood, My Ass:

We are not saved by the crucifixion, we are damned by it – or we could have been. Let us face that shameful dark day and accept our culpability – knowing that if Jesus returned today to preach the gospel to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed His blood would likely run in rivulets once again.  And let us move through that desolate Saturday knowing what we have done.

Scott Paeth: The Cross and the Crucified:

Jesus dies, abandoned and alone, forsaken by all, even God, to die the death of a social outcast and a political pariah. But in his death, Jesus reveals that the Good News of the Gospel is precisely that God stands on the side of all of those who are abandoned, alone, and forsaken, that God is with them in their forsakenness, has shared their suffering in the person of Jesus Christ, and in the resurrection of Christ, has overcome and redeemed it.

Denika Anderson: Beautiful Terrible Reckless Love:

Tony asked why a crucifixion is necessary. Ontologically speaking, it isn’t. Even considering the pervasiveness of sin, it still isn’t necessary. But, presented with the choice between being crucified and saving himself, Jesus shows us why choosing the crucifixion is the only choice, and why the resurrection is the only possible outcome.

Greg Garrett: Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

Jesus staked his life on the belief that God’s power is supreme — and his resurrection proves it. The power of the Empire to torture and kill, to impose its will, is nothing compared to the power of God, which will not let sin and death have the last word.

There are many more, and you should add your own. I recommend you spend part of your Good Friday perusing these wonderful meditations on the crucifixion.

A Tomato on the Seder Plate

The Seder plate at Joseph Edelheit’s home, including oranges, olives, and tomatoes.

For the second year in a row, Rabbi Joseph Edelheit graciously invited Courtney, the kids, and me to share in his family Seder dinner for Passover. It was a wonderful experience.

There are longstanding, traditional elements on a Seder plate, including maror, charoset, karpas, z’roa, and beitzah. We had all of those.

But one of the things that I like most about the traditions of Passover is that they are open to change and modification, at least in the Edelheit home. Last year, he added an orange to the plate, to show solidarity with women and GLBT persons.

This year, he added two elements. One was tomatoes, in solidarity with migrant workers who work in near-slavery in America:

Over the last few years, the issues of actual slavery (estimates of people working today as slaves in the world today range between 12 and 27 million) and workers’ rights (many, like the tomato pickers in Florida, are said to work in near-slavery conditions) have achieved greater visibility in parts of the Jewish community. Especially at Passover, the holiday that commemorates the ancient Hebrews’ freedom from slavery. Individual seder leaders, and organizations like RHR (which produces an “anti-slavery” Haggadah supplement and table cards that contain stories of modern-day slavery), Boston’s Workmen’s Circle branch and Congregation Dorshei Tzedek in West Newton, Mass., have incorporated reminders of farm workers’ rights into their seder readings.

This year the tomato — along with words of accompanying text — becomes the latest symbolic food officially added to some seder tables.

RHR and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (the central labor representative of agricultural workers “in low-wage jobs” in Florida) this week announced that they are urging Jewish homes to put a tomato on their seder plate.

Of course, this reminded me of my friend, Brian McLaren, who has been fighting for the rights of Immokalee workers in Florida for several years.

But the other element on the plate really took my breath away.

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The Gospel According to Nadia

The good people of Denver put their spiritual lives at risk by asking Nadia Bolz-Weber to preach before the myriad (look it up)-large throng at Red Rocks on Easter Sunday.  I thought that maybe Nadia would borrow an idea from Watermark Church in Dallas and build a massive version of the Bridge Illustration so that she could walk across the Cross:

(I shit you not.  You can watch the video here.  You may wonder, as I did, if the illustration breaks down a bit when three stagehands show up to lower the Cross over the chasm.)

I personally would have loved to see Nadia walk over the chasm.  But, alas, she decided instead to preach the gospel.  Here’s her nutshell description of what Jesus was all about:

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