Churches are meant to be places of vulnerability and trust. We should be able to share our scars – not just with people who are already members, but with people who are exploring their options, people who doubt our stories, people who aren’t ready to commit yet.
And just like that the two of them, the Mary who had followed faithfully but never been one of the 12 and the Mary who had answered the angel’s calling once before but had been forgotten, were commissioned as apostles to the apostles.
The one who had experience with demons would spread the good news and help the 11 shake off their own demonic fears and shame. And the one who had given Jesus life would spark something in those who thought life was over without their savior.
He asked people to bring … candles.
It seemed like a silly thing to do. Gas masks would have made sense. Or weapons, for self-defense, but candles seemed as crazy as brandishing palm branches.
When we are stuck at home, separated from the routines and rhythms that keep us grounded, trapped with fear as our steady companion, it gets worse. Doubts burrow into your flesh and multiply; irritation at simple things blossoms, anxiety chases you until your energy is sapped.
The psalmist has good news for us: the Good Shepherd promises to anoint your head with oil … and bring you peace!
Have you ever been on holy ground? What made it holy?
For many of you Bluestone is holy ground. For me, it’s Montreat. And over the past 70 years, this spot, on the corner of Venable and 39th, has become holy ground.
So, let me give you the chance to introduce yourself.
I’m a denarius, a silver coin, stamped with the image of the Emperor Tiberius and the words “Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus”.
My goodness, that sounds important!
In Mark, when Jesus begins to tell his disciples what awaits him – suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection – he tells them that anyone who follows him will need to deny themselves and take up their own cross.
Have you considered the power of that line – take up your cross?
I wonder if the mention of bread made Jesus’ mouth water and his stomach growl,
or if he was daydreaming of fish stew or a juicy cluster of grapes.
I wonder if 40 days of fasting left him weak with hunger or just weary and hollowed out.
I wonder if he was remembering his mother mixing flour and water and yeast
and kneading the dough and carrying it to the community oven to bake.
I wonder if he had spent 40 days dreading this confrontation, or if it was a surprise.
Six days can be a long time:
a long time to worry that a friendship might be hopelessly broken;
a long time to worry that you are walking into danger;
a long time to worry that you are not brave enough to face what is coming.
Can you imagine a liturgical moment of self-reflection right before the offering plates are passed? Can you imagine people getting up and walking across the aisle, or walking out, to seek forgiveness or right some injustice? Can you imagine the healing that would result?
Jenji Kohan can. She is the creator of the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black” about women in a minimum security federal prison based on Piper Kerman’s memoir.