Reflecting on the Boston Marathon Bombing 1 Month Later

It made a huge difference that suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed and his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apprehended by the end of the week. Clearly the fear went from hidden and lurking to a white-hot anger focused on making an example out of anyone who would attack innocent people. Still terrorism did its job.

I still hear of people saying they are rethinking their summer plans. Some are choosing not to fly. Some second-guessing their [Read more…]

Reflecting On Easter Through the Eyes of My Children (Hopefully Future Disciples)

As part of the nature of this blog, I like to look back as much as I can … with my best effort of not boring you. The nature of blogging is to respond to the now, the what just happened, and if possible, the what next? Part of me is drawn to this as I feel it’s not only my temperament to opinionate and participate in conversation but your blog stats are certainly helped by being among the first. This is the Ricky Bobby philosophy of blogging “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”

Though this week has shown no shortage of topics to jump in on another part of me feels otherwise. The problem for me anyway, is not only do many of these posts come across as premature but I end up actually resenting some of them within a few weeks. I can handle the changing my mind part, but this social media vehicle is not as conducive as I would like. I struggle with the adding to the hype and not being able to pull back from it. It’s different than sitting down with a friend over coffee and saying, “It’s funny, last week when we sat here, I thought that now I think I’ve changed my mind to this…”

Further (and getting closer to beginning my point ;) – I am ever-concerned with the consumption of [Read more…]

An Easter Reflection from the Disciple’s Perspective

Well, I hope you had a wonderful Easter and Holy Week (if you are Protestant, that is. Wishing continued grace to you dear Coptic Orthodox readers til May 5).  Now, if you’ve been reading along, you know I’ve been trying to reflect on Holy Week through the lens of the disciples (here and here). Among the reasons is its my attempt to look at a familiar story with fresh eyes. I know that feeling of “here we go again” quite well and leaning in to finding something deeper has been a welcomed solution to overcoming the frustration of the familiar.

So, if I am one of the disciples Easter morning and I hear about the empty tomb, I suppose my first thought is, [Read more…]

A Good Friday Reflection – Did the Crucifixion Turn the Disciples Into Instant Atheists?

I’m staying with the theme of yesterday’s post of looking at Passion Week through the eyes of the disciples and can’t help but wonder what they must have been thinking throughout Passion Week.

I’m guessing if I was among the original Twelve, I would have loved being a part of Palm Sunday. Here’s Jesus, at the height of his popularity, getting a parade as he enters Jerusalem. Ancient cities typically only did that for war heroes, royalty, political superstars and the Beatles because music history [Read more…]

“What Does the Easter Bunny Have to Do With Jesus?”

Last week I got to speak at the ESOL Easter Banquet that meets in one of the buildings at our Lexington campus. Those taking the class have their own unique story of how they got there. Some came to the States for a job transfer, some for love, some for the classic “hoping for better opportunities here.” As a son of immigrant parents, I get that.

When I was first asked to do this, it was an easy decision for me. English was the second language for my parents so I’ll think I’ll always have a soft spot for broken-English. I was told that some coming were not believers of Christianity and the purpose of the banquet was to celebrate semester milestones and observe American holidays. The banquets are optional and the speaker’s message is to communicate the meaning of the holiday without proselytizing. As one who loathes the “bait and switch” mentality, I settled on entitling the message “What Does the Easter Bunny Have to Do With Jesus?”

My goal was to offer why Christians celebrate this holiday.  I did my best to avoid preaching at it but I make no promises in this reflection.

There’s so much I love about the Easter story. Among my favorite aspects is how this story serves all of our other stories. If the story of the Resurrection of Jesus is true, it changes all the other stories, including the tragic ones.

Jesus’ promise for redemption, forgiveness and the invitation to the life he offers only works if the resurrection account is true. If it’s true, then indeed everything changes.

Including the symbols – symbols like the cross. As many have pointed out, the cross being the central symbol of the Christian faith is an odd one to some extent because at the time of Jesus, the cross was a violent instrument of capital punishment. It was the Roman version of the electric chair or the lethal injection but much more inhumane. Its purpose was to create the most torturous death possible. Its symbol was to instill fear and serve as a grave warning for all who dared to rebel against the state.

The resurrection changed that. Instead of being a symbol to be dreaded, it because a symbol of hope, of love, of victory!

So how did the Easter bunny get dragged into all of this? First, a confession, I like the Easter Bunny. Just like I’m a fan of Santa.

I get that some of us are tired of church bulletin covers of Easter Lillie’s (and Christmas poinsettias), tired of angels, baffled women and disciples standing outside of glowing empty tombs, tired of cartoon characters and colored eggs. Not me though. I’ve seemed to have rebounded quite strongly from begin jaded by all the Christian cliches.

This is perhaps because we have children now. And while my near four year old may actually come close to understanding the idea of Jesus enduring a horrible death by affixation by crucifixion, the poor kid has trouble sleeping as it s.

I’ve been telling our children that Easter is about the life that Jesus offers us. I tell them that Jesus died but became alive again and it’s never happened before (or since). And that’s what makes Easter special. I ask our near 4 and 2 year old, “What’s Easter about?” The short answer is “Life.”

For centuries, parents were telling their children of the greatest story ever and using their cultural symbols to illustrate. They used rabbits and eggs because they were signs of life. They created “entry points” for their children so they could being grasping the Easter narrative at a young age. And it’s important that we do this without traumatizing our young children with screenings of  “The Passion of Christ” or worse, poorly acted Easter dramas ;)

This year, I’ve enjoyed sharing with my children the Easter story. I love that Easter story redeems all things, I love that it redefines the symbols and I love that our children are slowly grasping it … with the help of eggs, baskets, chocolate and the bunny.

Ask Not if Pete Rollins Believes the Resurrection, Ask If he’s Made a Good Point.

Pete Rollins was asked if he believed in the resurrection during a time of presentation and discussion at Calvin College (which by the way, I think it’s great that Calvin invited him).  He blogs his answer and many are still talking about it.  Like many, I read it on my RSS Feeder and my first thought was, “Here we go again”,  second was, “He really does this paradox thing well.”  I loved Thomas’ (who just had a post picked on The High Calling blog) post about it yesterday and it’s been brought to my attention a couple of times now too (and I suppose I may have brought it to a few people’s attention as well).

Thomas got me thinking though.  After the Mid-Atlantic Conference he sat in my living room and we conversed and he was gracious enough to listen to my questions.  I’m not name-dropping here, he talks to anyone.  Anyway,  to one he responded, “I think it’s crazy if people take me too seriously.  I’m just trying to add a point here and there …”  Now maybe that was an understatement, but I appreciated that he didn’t say something like, “People need to wake up and listen to what I am saying …” and act as if he had it all figured out.  Because he writes/speaks from that humble posture, I think it’s wise to, at the very least, consider the point he’s trying to make.  Like the point that Bono was making when he dressed up as MacPhisto (the devil-character he created on the Zoo TV tour, he wasn’t endorsing the devil but quite the opposite).  In fact, if Rollins has a problem is that this thought is not original though he just does a great job in echoing it today.  Paul says in I Corinthians 13, that “…  but have not love then I am but only  a clanging cymbal.” 

I do not know really the context nor the person who asked the question.  For all I know, it could have been Sam Harris or John McArthur or Brian McLaren or a student  or professor.  It could have even been one of Pete’s friends planted in the crowd to give us something to blog about it.  In my history of attending conferences, numerous times there has been the person that wants to “expose” the speaker as a heretic. Then there’s the guy who needs to ask these questions in order to trust the speaker.  I’ve been that guy, may we be given wisdom for the journey.  But to the former, I remind you to be careful that you do not resemble the Pharisees that were trying to trap Jesus (like in John 8).

Now I’m told that Pete does believe in the literal, physical resurrection (so there are two of you reading this that are relieved), but what if he didn’t believe or stops believing it one day or stops one day and believes it again on another?  While I want to say that it would be an utter shame if he didn’t believe it, I think another shame is to miss this point.

Regarding his statement, I believe his argument is valid.  What point is it to believe in the resurrection if we don’t believe in all the words of the One that was raised?  What point is it to believe in the One that encompassed perfect love if we don’t share it in witness in the forms of words and action?  What point is it to believe in the abundant life, if we ignore those barely living and dying around us? 

I believe the Spirit uses that answer even if Pete denies the resurrection to promote the resurrection!  Let me ask it in this way. Can we not gain from his point? I say from my perspective he’s wrong on that point while he may be right that I neglect the needs around me, thereby demonstrating his point!

Let’s forget about this hyper-caffeinated, Irish philosopher for a second.   How important is the resurrection to us as believers?   We may be quick to say that it’s the central tenant of our faith but is it? Here’s something interesting to me, I wonder how many more people would believe in the resurrection if we did in fact care more for the marginalized in the many, many ways they appear.  Is this not a great conversation?