|Image by Ian Dick|
Holy Week: the Body
In the presence of the faithful, I will proclaim your name, for it is good.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God through him.
A MEDITATIVE VERSES
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’
A VERSE RETOLD
God keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.
Those of us who are Christians can also remember the example of Someone who lived with a sense of meaning and purpose in the most chaotic and oppressive time. We have only to recall that Jesus lived with God as the point of his being. Again and again, he told his disciples that he had come from God and was going to God. He knew who he was, that his deepest identity lay in the mystery that he was born of God. And he knew that he was for God, that he had come to announce the great dream of God, the dream of the reign of God and the great economy of grace. This was the meaning and purpose of his life. It was his passion. His affirmation of the point of his life was profoundly based on his gratitude for being born of God.... Jesus left us with this vision, a vision worthy enough to summon every aspect of our being and the whole of our lives. Yet, this vision is not a blueprint. It is not a detailed plan of what we are to do and how we are to do it. It has been left to us to fill in the blanks, as it were. The great dream of God for the world is not a concrete plan, but it is compelling. It gives us a sense of how the story of the world and of how our own story will end. It will end as it began - in goodness. It makes all the difference in the world to believe that the dream of God for the world is going to happen.
- from Radical Gratitude by Mary Jo Leddy
VERSES OF THE DAY
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of God and of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’
|"Benediction" by Dianne Bersea|
On this last day of our devotions, we move from keeping vigil at the tomb into the gentle hours of a new day. We are on the threshold of Easter, even as we continue to live in these pandemic days that feel like a never-ending Holy Saturday. The disciples and followers of Jesus are scattered and grieving, but soon that will change. How can we too have faith in that changing landscape, even as in some provinces today marks the start of a new lockdown? What do we hold on to? The ‘resurrection bone’ is a small bone in the base of the skull, from which the Israelites believed each of us would be built back into life in a uniquely resurrected form. It is called the ‘luz’ bone and it is believed to be the bone that will not be broken in Psalm 34. This small sacred bone behind the skull is just above where the back of a pastor’s stole lies, or where the head knot is for the Orthodox tefillin. It is a bone which cannot be crushed. The story of the ‘resurrection bone’ has been carried for millenia by the Jewish people, who have always held resurrection as an ultimate vision. Our story is different, but exists alongside this tradition. In our story, the body that was crushed by the Romans on a cross — the body of Jesus — returns, no longer a human body, but transformed. As we move toward Easter morning, the story of the resurrection calls us to live in hope. Soon, the women who have been by the side of Jesus since he left the Galilee, and who have seen every imaginable horror, will come to the tomb to perform the ritual act of anointing him for burial. They will find that he is not there, and then, on the road, he is there after all, in a changed and yet recognizable form, speaking to them. The journey of the Easter people will begin from these first quiet moments of encounter tomorrow, as the sun is peeking over the horizon. Jesus tells the women to instruct the disciples to go home to the Galillee, where he will appear to them. The post-Easter encounters with Jesus will continue where his ministry began, in the place that Jesus and his followers call home, the Galilee. In our own lives, once again we too are encountering the risen Jesus — at home. We are celebrating an Easter that looks quite different from what it has been in the past. And yet over this past year, we have learned how to be Easter people in very different times. We have learned how to pivot, how to adapt, how to be faithful in new ways in our faith communities, and do what we can to hold each other up. We have perhaps learned that the only home we really need is the love of Jesus. This shared home we have with all Christians, which also embraces all people, is an old story retold by each and every one of us in a completely unique setting, in a time of global pandemic, in the spring of 2021. As we continue to navigate vaccines and variants, lockdowns and losses, how can we think of our own homes as the Galilee, where the risen Jesus abides? How can we make our hearts ready for the ‘new creation’ in which we all can play a part?
This marks the end of the LC† Retelling the Stories devotional project. Thank you so much to all who have faithfully participated. On behalf of Pastor Steve Hoffard, Catherine Evenden, Henriette Thompson and Deacon Sherry Coman, we wish you a blessed and holy Easter. May the peace of the risen Christ be with you now and always. See you at Pentecost!
On Sundays, churches from across the ELCIC offer worship and devotions. Many have live and pre-recorded Easter services on which they have worked very creatively. Please consider joining one: a link that can lead to one that feels right for you, can be found here:
ELCIC live-streamed and prerecorded services.
As well, Bishop Susan Johnson continues to provide daily hymns and prayers which bless us all!
Find them here.
LC† Retelling the Stories is a project of Lutherans Connect, supported by the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Join us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and on Twitter. Lutherans Connect invites you to make a donation to the Ministry by going to this link on the website of the ELCIC Eastern Synod and selecting "Lutherans Connect Devotionals" under "Fund". Devotions are always freely offered, however your donations help to support extended offerings throughout the year.
Thank you and peace be with you!