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Anatomy of a Believer

Sunday, April 15, 2012 — Easter 2 B — John 20:19-31

My name is . . . Thomas. My friends call me Didymus, “The Twin.” But as you know, it is not by this name that I have been most remembered over the years. Mention Thomas to anyone and immediately they will call me “Doubting Thomas.” It is not fair that I am remembered for my weakness when it was my confession of faith that brings the Gospel of John to its dramatic climax. Few remember that I was the daring believer who took the Gospel all the way to the shores of India. It seems that I shall be forever cursed with the name Doubting Thomas.

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The Rest of the Story… in Galilee

Sunday, April 8, 2012 — The Resurrection of Our Lord, Easter Day — Mark 16:1-8

There is nothing more disappointing than a bad ending to a good movie. The movie is about to come to its dramatic climax. The bad guys and the good guys are about to have it out. Guns are drawn. The show-down is about to begin and then suddenly “The End” flashes on the screen and the credits start rolling. The movie is over! The crowd starts booing. You storm out of the theater in disgust. You want a refund. It is not supposed to end like this! You demand to know the rest of the story!

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There’s a Method to the Madness

Friday, April 6, 2012 — Good Friday — Passion According to St. John

To those standing at the foot of the cross that Friday it must have seemed like shear madness. Jesus, who had created such hope and optimism among his friends and followers, now hangs there on the cross, the empire’s brutally cruel and efficient means of torture, oppression and execution. The cross surely reminded them . . . and us . . . that so much of life is riddled with suffering and chaos. Inexplicable cancers, a sudden and fatal pain in the chest, betrayal by someone we thought we could trust, screeching tires and shattering glass on a hostile, dark night, the disappointment of a life that did not unfold as we hoped it would, all reveal that life can be utterly chaotic, often without rhyme or reason. Sheer madness!

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God Undressed

Thursday, April 5, 2012 — Maundy Thursday — John 13:1-35, Psalm 22:1-23

Taking off the clothes of another can be an act of love. It is done carefully and slowly. It can be our aged parent, who struggles with undoing a simple button. It can be our child as we ready her for the bathtub. It can be a lover for whom we care deeply. It can also be an act of anger and violence. That kind of undressing is ugly, brutal and destructive. At the close of every Maundy Thursday service, the members of our Altar Guild carefully, slowly and lovingly “strip the altar.” They undress it. They take off its clothing. They strip it bare until it remains nude, exposed, vulnerable. Their act of reverent love accompanies a mournful voice singing the marvelously prophetic words of Psalm 22. Hearing those words while the symbol of Christ’s presence in our midst is undressed reminds us of what will happen to Jesus during the coming day. He will also be undressed and stripped naked. He will become utterly exposed and vulnerable . . . . to the point where it finally costs him his life.

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Jesus and Me: Popped!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 — Lenten Vespers 5 — Isaiah 53:4-6 / Mark 15:37-39

Late one night last Fall I came very close to experiencing “the terror of Zionsville.” Driving home from the church, I almost had a heart attack when the blinking red lights of one of Zionsville’s finest appeared in my rear view mirror. What had I done wrong? I knew that I was not over the speed limit. As I waited for the officer to get out of his car, I scrambled for my license and registration. I did not want to do anything to alienate him because all I could think of was “the terror of Zionsville:” . . . opening the Zionsville newspaper next week and seeing my name listed along with all the other criminals who had been caught by the police. We may no longer publicly shame people by putting them in stocks in the town square where everyone can scorn, ridicule and toss rotten tomatoes in their face, but we can still be shamed by the Zionsville Times. What would people think of me? I did not deserve to be associated with disorderly drunks, sneaky thieves and desperate addicts? I did not want to be numbered with sinners who had done really bad things. I was afraid of “guilt by association.”

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