Almost four years after my father’s death, I still receive very vivid reminders of one of the central truths of both the human condition and the Gospel of Jesus Christ: “You can’t take anything with you” or—as a beloved friend once said shortly before his death, “I have never seen a hearse with a U-Haul attached to it.” As my mother and I continue to sort through so many of my father’s things, all carefully labeled, stored, and left behind—many of them for a future that never came—we have had a very sobering reminder that our only real legacy is our character and the good deeds that we have done or failed to do in our short time here on this earth. Our spirit is all that follows us into the “life of the world to come” as we await the final consummation of all things mortal at the “resurrection of the dead”, when “Christ is all and in all,” according to St. Paul. Even Jesus didn’t manage to leave this world without first dying, and, in this world of uncertainty, there is one thing of which I am quite sure: none of us gathered here this morning will manage to do so either. Continue reading →
Yesterday I was crucified with Christ;
today I am glorified with him.
Yesterday I was dead with Christ;
today I am sharing in his resurrection.
Yesterday I was buried with him;
today I am waking with him from the sleep of death.
Jesus has shown in his own person all the fullness of life offered on the tree of the cross. For me this tree is a plant of eternal health. I feed on it; by its roots I ﬁnd stability; by its branches I reach out to others. I rejoice in its dew; I am invigorated by the rustling of its leaves. I freely enjoy its fruits as if they were meant just for me from the beginning of the world. It is my food when I am hungry; it is my fountain when I am thirsty; it is my very clothing, for its leaves are the spirit of life.
The tree of which I speak has celestial dimensions, reaching from earth to heaven, a plant of eternity which is planted in both heaven and earth, the foundation of the universe, gathering under its canopy all the diverse peoples of the world, fastened by invisible nails of the Spirit, so that its link with divine power may never be broken. Continue reading →
At first glance, this morning’s readings look to be about sin and death. The Genesis reading is part of the flood story, which wiped out all humankind save Noah’s family. The lesson from 1 Peter speaks of Christ suffering for sins, and how he was “put to death in the flesh.” And this morning’s Gospel lesson introduces the personification of sin himself, Satan, who tempts Jesus in the wilderness. At first glance, this morning’s readings look to be about sin and death. But if I look more closely at this morning’s readings I begin to see that today’s readings are not so much about sin and death as they are about redemption and life. Continue reading →