Take and Eat; Take and Drink

Here we are again, at the most significant, most sacred weekend in our worship life as Christians. Here we are again in spirit in the upper room, at the foot of the cross, and — wonder of wonders — staring into the empty tomb where Jesus of Nazareth is not. This weekend, again, is truly the high point of our worship life.

There are probably a few of us are a little sad at this time of the year. Why? Because this means the end of our weekly Lenten suppers. No more fried chicken, sub sandwiches, tacos or a table full of deserts.

Save Us Now!

Our English language doesn’t quite catch it. To us, the name Jesus and the Hebrew word Hosanna sound completely unrelated, but in their original language, they make beautiful harmony. Let me explain.

When the angel Gabriel first appeared to Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of the very Son of God, he also gave her God’s command: “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). “You will call him Yeshua (Joshua or Jesus),” which literally means “the Lord saves.”

Watch and Pray

It was in a garden, where everything was perfect, that Satan came to Adam and Eve and slipped poison into their minds using his lying, forked tongue. This ruined everything. Death began to seep into all creation: flowers began to wither; animals lost their tameness; fruit began rotting on the trees; insects began biting. Man went into hiding from a God whose visits he used to look forward to with such eagerness. Man began aging, and laboring, and sweating, and suffering, and dying. Adam and Eve lived a long, long time the Scriptures say, but they would eventually bend over and shrivel back into the dust from which they were formed. Their sin would bring an even worse fate. So they wanted to talk and listen to Satan? Well, by their rebellion against the will of God, they and all their descendants earned the right to do just that forever, in hell.

Fighting Temptation: Living with Past Guilt

My daughter, Lydia, turns 16 at the end of April. She has her temps right now. Very soon she will have her real driver’s license. I can tell when she’s been driving my car because the steering wheel is lower, the seat is closer (even for me), and the rearview mirror is tilted.

After I get over the bruised knees of trying to get into the car, I raise the steering wheel, move back the seat and readjust the rearview mirror. But, I’m fine with tilting the mirror back to where it needs to be. That means she was using it.

I Am He

In John’s gospel, there are times when Jesus intentionally kept his identity hidden, at least initially. Think, for instance, about his long conversation with the woman at Jacob’s well in John chapter 4. Jesus and she talked about a bunch of things, and Jesus (whether she realized it right away or not) was ministering to her soul. Finally, she said expectantly, “I know that Messiah is coming.” It wasn’t until that point that Jesus said, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” In other gospel accounts, you remember how many different times Jesus told either his disciples or the people he had healed not to tell anyone that he was the Christ—“Hush, hush.”

What Is Truth?

The title on the web banner was enticing: “Fight Back With Un-Fake News!” More than enticing, it struck one of our society’s recently exposed nerves. In March 2017, 60 Minutes also ran a segment investigating the production of fake news. The segment showed how writers design stories to look official and believable. One programmer demonstrated how the number of “Likes” on Facebook can be manipulated to make fake news stories look much, much more popular than they actually are. People fall for the trick: If so many appear to be reading it, it must be true. Sadly, this is our world. Photoshopped pictures alter reality. Breaking news is written on a blog from a couch in a man cave. What to believe?

Take Him Away!

“Take him away!”—three words that showed the truth of the prophecy of Isaiah: “He was despised and rejected by mankind” (53:3). “Take him away!”—three words that showed the truth of Jesus’ prediction that he would be handed over to the Gentiles and crucified. “Take him away!”—three words that showed the truth of St. John’s observation: “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him” (Jn 1:10).

Love One Another

I have a portion of a letter to read to you:

Falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another, and they don’t hesitate to honor widows; and they rescue the orphans who are being abused. The one who has gives to the one who lacks, without bragging about it. And when they meet a stranger, they take him into their homes and rejoice over him as if he were a brother. . . . And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food themselves, they will fast two or three days just so they can have something to share with the one lacking food. They observe the teachings of their Messiah with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God has commanded them.