Early Christians weren’t hated because they were good people; they were hated because their way of life was a judgment on the status quo, and the status quo fought back.
The Good News is what ultimately changes lives because it addresses the core problem: where do we put our trust? Do we put our trust in the God of the Bible who brings life out of death, or do we give our obedience to the idols of a consumer culture that have no power over the forces of death?
“When you prepare a sermon, imagine that Martin Luther King, Jr. will be sitting in the congregation that hears that sermon. Will your words make sense to a life like that?”--Jim McClendon, Professor of Christian Ethics
...like all human beings we don’t like to admit that there is a period of waiting—often months and years of waiting—between the death of our dreams and the dawn of a new chapter.
Good Friday is a day to take stock of where we want to give our allegiance and how we should frame our thinking about our political commitments. Our political conversations with one another shouldn’t be primarily defined by the current Red vs. Blue political divide. Rather, our conversations should be defined by what does it mean for us to be faithful to the way of the cross
On Maundy Thursday it is good to abandon the pretence that there is no vestige left in us of resistance to being served and loved. I am a Christian. I have accepted the love of God on the Cross…and yet there is a reluctance which has not altogether died down in me yet. Part of me wants to deserve love, or only get the love I deserve--Martin Smith
During Holy Week we discover that the church has always been far from ideal; it is no different than that original bunch of disciples. The church is always made up of members who like Judas betray Jesus, like Peter deny him, and like all the rest of the disciples abandon him. And yet, it is precisely these sorts of folks that God has called to be the church, held together by God’s grace and forgiveness, not by their stellar performance.
In an honor culture shame is not our modern psychological understanding of internalized guilt, but the loss of value and discrediting that comes to those who don’t play by the social norms of the dominant culture.
If following Jesus degenerates into merely an ethical imperative, it won’t have any legs; it is just too difficult. We follow him, not because it is a good idea, but because we love him. This is what Mary shows us. Mary has come to understand the magnitude of the gift in front of her. Therefore, lavishing perfume on him that costs 300 denarii—a year’s salary for the average laborer—isn’t wasteful; it makes all the sense in the world.
As someone once said, our worship during Holy Week is like trying to use a thimble to get some water from Niagara Falls. The enormity of what is happening threatens to sweep us away, and is truly impossible to capture. The best we can do is simply get close enough to feel the mist from the thundering waters.