Luke does not see the world through rose-colored glasses. Paul does not write that “all things work together for good” as though evil is not real. The Bible does not tell a story of the power of positive thinking to defeat the power of negativity. The Bible tells the story of God redeeming a fallen world. The Bible tells a story of God providing the gifts we need to walk the pathways of fiery trials, not to avoid them.
The wisdom of the story of Paul preaching in Athens is that the prevalence of idols in a culture is not an indication that God is no longer needed. It indicates the opposite—that the culture is desperately seeking what God offers—good news, the bold and provocative message that Jesus rose from the dead and so will we.
Not knowing the way precisely where Jesus will lead us much of the time goes with the territory of discipleship.
This sacrament is not an exercise in nostalgia, though it is remembrance; here at this table, the past, present, and future are joined in a meal that gives us a glimpse of the kingdom of God, even in the presence of our enemy, whether that enemy is human, virus, or death itself.
When Jesus meets the broken-hearted disciples, he first walks alongside them, listens, he lets them tell their story even if they are not aware that it is the story of Jesus’s suffering too. Then, he opens the scripture to them, so their hearts gradually move from broken to burning within them.
This moment will not last forever. We will get back together physically when it is safe to do so, but we will not be the same. We will, like the resurrected Jesus, still bear the scars of this wilderness journey.
This Easter, we don’t need the half-time show. We need the good news. We need to hear this story again of death getting defeated, and we need to let it soak into our bones.
“Courage is fear that has said its prayers,” a wise woman said. It is time to hold to our faith, to find our courage through prayer.
The second life of Lazarus is still a mortal life--he will die again; and yet, it points to the resurrected life, to the abundant life in Christ that we can live even in the midst of lament.
On the one hand, we are only human. We are infected with fear and greed, with selfishness and a tendency toward despair. On the other hand, there is the good news of the Gospel: We are fully human. We are made in the image of God with the capacity to love one another, to be generous, to pour ourselves out for one another even as Christ poured himself out for us.