Where is Jesus now?

1 June 2014
Seventh Sunday of Easter
Easter 7A (RCL)
Acts 1:6-14
Psalm 68:1-10, 33-36
1 Peter 4: 12-14; 5:6-11
John 17:1-11

I always chuckle a little when I think of Jesus’ disciples standing there giving him and “upskirt.” I wonder if Luke intended the humor. Luke knew enough about the iconography of empire to cast the picture of Jesus’ ascension in terms recognizable as the apotheosis of Caesar. By having Jesus’, instead of his effigy, ascending into the clouds, Luke may have wanted this to seem silly, to extend the silliness to Caesar’s apotheosis as well. After all, one of the angels says to the disciples, “why do you stand staring up into heaven?” The point is not to watch the bottoms of his feet disappear. Continue reading “Where is Jesus now?”

What the world cannot see

25 May 2014
Sixth Sunday of Easter
Easter 6A (RCL)
Acts 17:22-31
Psalm 66:7-18
1 Peter 3:13-22
John 14:15-21

This week, we have a frustratingly short little snippet of Jesus’ farewell discourse in the Gospel of John. If we could have added on the end of last week’s lection about doing greater works than Jesus and asking anything in his name, we might have more to work with; or even adding on the next bit about Judas, not Isacariot, wondering how it is that Jesus will reveal himself to us but not the world would help. As it is, we’re left wondering, “What are Jesus’ commandments, and who is this Paraclete?” Continue reading “What the world cannot see”

Jesus the Road

18 May 2014
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Easter 5A (RCL)
Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 31:1-5,15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
John 14:1-14

Last week, we heard Jesus say, “I AM the door.” This week, we hear him say, “I AM the road.” Commentators look at various contexts for the source of this metaphor. Is it the gnostic way of knowledge (the saying about knowing the father might suggest this). Is it hermetic? I believe the background is Jewish. The Johannine community understood themselves to be on the desert way, the new community of Israel, bereft of the Temple and expelled from the synagogue. Jesus, after all, is the passover lamb, eaten before leaving Egypt on the way to the land of God’s promise. After the resurrection, Jesus tells Mary Magdalene that he is journeying to his God and our God, his Father and our Father.

That helps make sense of the statement, “In my father’s house are many resting places.” Continue reading “Jesus the Road”

Jesus the door

11 May 2014
Fourth Sunday of Easter
(Good Shepherd Sunday)
Easter 4A (RCL)

Acts 2:42-47
Psalm 23
1 Peter 19-25
John 10:1-10

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday, and in the RCL, the Gospel reading always comes from the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel. We expect to hear Jesus say, “I am the Good Shepherd,” but in Year A, we hear him say, “I am the door.” We do some violence to the Gospel by placing the chapter division just here. It makes it seem like this passage can stand on its own, when in fact, this discourse continues immediately on from the story of the healing of the man born blind. Jesus has just told the Pharisees that because they insist that they see, their sin remains. The blind man has been put out of the synagogue, and has encountered Jesus. The story makes it clear that everyone who confesses the Christ is to be expelled from the synagogue. Jesus then immediately says, “Truly, I tell you, the one who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs over the wall is a thief and a bandit.” Are we to assume that the Pharisees are thieves and bandits? Continue reading “Jesus the door”

Seeing Jesus

4 May 2014
Third Sunday of Easter
Easter 3A (RCL)
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
Psalm 116:1-3, 10-17
1 Peter 17-23
Luke 24:13-35

The story of the Road to Emmaus is one of the most recognizable stories in the Gospel (Luke is the consummate story teller — more of his stories have names than any other Gospel writer). There are paintings depicted it, poets refer to it (T. S. Eliot’s, “The Waste Land” has one of the more famous and oblique references), and we all know it. oAnd with good reason: it’s a great story.

The irony in the story is part of what makes it work so well. We, the readers, know something that the characters in the story don’t know: the third companion is Jesus. As readers, we can see the outcome and feel a huge relief with the veil is lifted and the two companions recognize Jesus. But the irony also invites us to compare our stories with the story we are reading: it invites us to take an ironic perspective on our own lives. Continue reading “Seeing Jesus”