Can We Get More Resurrection?

Yesterday we celebrated Easter, the day the resurrected Jesus broke forth from the tomb and broke the power of sin and death. If the Lenten season was about walking with Jesus the road to Calvary, the Christian life is about coming out the other end. We proclaim with the Apostle Paul, “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? ¬†Where, O death, is your sting?‚ÄĚ (1 Cor 15:54-55). ¬†And yet . . .

And yet death¬†still stings.¬† We feel it as we age, time decays and slows our pace. We feel it in the face of a troubling diagnosis or when we have to have our cat put down on Good-Friday morning. We feel its sting when we grieve the loss of a family member or close friend. Where O death is your sting?¬†You don’t have to tell us. We feel it.

And yet death still looks pretty victorious. It still claims us all. We don’t need to look beyond last week’s news cycle to see the threat of death that looms over our heads. The Cleveland broadcast killer, Palm Sunday Massacres, Bombs dropped, another youth gunned down by police in Fresno, executions lined up for this week in Arkansas, and 45’s threat and show of strength against North Korea. Where O death, is your victory?¬†Ubiquitous and persistent, we see death everywhere.

I know everything changed Easter morning. Death died and when love stronger than death broke its hold on our souls. We have hope because of Jesus’ resurrection and we await our own. Still, can we get a little more resurrection? We could really use it.

Power Through Weakness (or Community, Rest & Mission): a book review

The Christian life is the empowered life. ¬†In Christ we are set free to live life and face the challenges that come our way. But sometimes we feel powerless in the face of life’s obstacles. Kevin Harney, author of¬†Reckless Faith¬†and the¬†Organic Outreach¬†books has written a month-long daily devotional exploring how God’s presence empowers believers. Each week of Empowered By His Presence¬†explores a different God-given source of strength which reveal God’s empowering presence. These include:

  • Suffering, loss & pain.
  • Community
  • Sabbath and rest
  • Mission

The daily devotional entires profiles a character from the Bible which explores their experience of God. Each week has a reading on Paul and Jesus, but the rest of the entries take you across the Old and New Testaments. At the end of each section in the book are a daily reading plan (which parallels the daily devotionals, suggestions for prayer, personal reflection questions and action steps. There is a discussion guide at the back of the book, designed to accompany a small-group DVD also available from Baker Books.

I really liked this book for a several reasons. First, this is a book about God’s empowering presence, but it isn’t esoteric or strange. Harney starts with the experience of grief and loss in Job, the persecution of Paul, Hannah’s sorrow, Joseph’s betrayal at the hands of his brothers, Peter leaving his nets and Jesus’ cry of dereliction. ¬†Each of these people were met by God, but they came to experience his power through loss, grief and weakness. This isn’t a book about the ‘power of God’ that never enters into human suffering. Rather Harney posits that we meet God there!

The other sections are similarly thoughtful. Community is a Christian buzzword, but Harney draws attention to the ways we mediate Christ to one another. The chapter on the four friends and the paralytic is pure gold (chapter seven). He has good stuff to say about Sabbath and Mission as well.

Second, I think the format is perfect for a small group. I am suggesting it for a small group study at my church and will  likely be ordering the DVD.

Third, I appreciate the breadth of Biblical people profiled. Harney isn’t stuck in the New Testament or Old but gives us a nice cross-section of the communion of saints.

Finally, I loved how solid this is. Harney has keen pastoral insights and is judicious in his reading of the Bible. I don’t remember any specific passages where I felt like he fudged it

I give this book four stars and recommend it especially for use in small groups. It may also be read profitably as a small group resource. ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÖ‚ėÜ

Mother’s Day Litany

(At our house, Mother’s Day is a happy time, a time to celebrate the mothers who raised us and a chance for my kids and I to pay homage to the wonderful wife and mother that Sarah is. Yet for many, Mother’s Day is a time of pain as they struggle through grief, infertility, the loss of a child. I offer this litany as a prayer for those who are hurting this day).

In peace let us pray to the Lord.
                                        Lord have mercy
For all the women of God’s church across the face of the earth, who have loved and nurtured others into the faith.
                                         Lord have mercy
For those who are single mothers and struggle to provide for their family.
                                        Lord have mercy
For the poor and widowed whose child has been taken from them because they couldn’t care for them.
                                       Lord have mercy
For those held captive by abuse who fear for their children and their life.
                                        Lord have mercy

For those who are estranged from their chlidren.
Lord have mercy

For those have suffered the loss of a child either through miscarriage, abortion or the premature death of a child.
                                       Lord have mercy
For those who have lost their own mothers and feel the dull ache of their loss.
                                      Lord have mercy

For those who have never, and may never, have the opportunity to have a child.
Lord have mercy

For strength in joy and hope for all women and confidence in God’s care for them.
                                     Lord have mercy
For . . .(names of women you feel led to pray for)
                                    Lord have mercy
For all those who call on you from their hearts. Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy

Amen.