Jesus Christ

JESUS: Disciples, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.  These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John: Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. (Matthew 10:1-4)   Reflection: The first thing the reader will note about the above passage from Matthew’s gospel is the change from Mark’s apostles to Matthean disciples.  In fact, there may have been three different groups who followed Jesus: [...]

EASTER STORY: Robin Redbreast, by Selma Lagerlöf

From Christ Legends It happened at the time when our Lord created the world, when he made not only Heaven and Earth, but all the animals and the plants as well, and at the same time gave them their names. Many stories have come to us from that time, and if we knew them all we should have light upon everything in this world which we cannot comprehend. It happened one day, when our Lord sat in his paradise painting little birds, that the colors in his paint pot gave out.  The goldfinch would have been without color if our Lord had not wiped all his paint brushes on its feathers. It was then that the donkey got his long ears because he could not remember the name that had been given him.  No sooner had he taken a few steps over the meadows [...]

JESUS: Apostles, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Jesus went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him.  And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, and to have authority to cast out demons.  So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. (Mark 3:13-19) Reflection: In Mark’s gospel, twelve men are named apostles by Jesus.  The passage above is not focused on [...]

JESUS: Peace, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.  Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.  Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:19-21)   Reflection: In John’s gospel, on Easter Sunday evening Jesus appears to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead, and his greeting to them is, Peace.  One must remember that earlier in the work, Jesus had told his disciples, Peace I leave with you; [...]

JESUS: Plan, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:So when the apostles had come together, they asked Jesus, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”  He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the Earth.” (Acts 1:6-8)   Reflection: The author of Luke’s gospel is also the author of the Acts of the Apostles.  The two volumes work together to present what the author understands to be God’s plan of salvation for the whole world.  The apostles are struggling to understand this plan, as [...]

JESUS: Witness, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Jesus said to the eleven, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”  Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:44-48)   Reflection:The Lukan Jesus commissions his disciples as witnesses to his suffering, death, and resurrection.  A witness is one who testifies to what he [...]

PSALMS: Learning To Pray In The Name Of Jesus, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Now there is in the Holy Scriptures a book which is distinguished from all other books of the Bible by the fact that it contains only prayers.  The book is the Psalms.  It is at first very surprising that there is a prayerbook in the Bible.  The Holy Scripture is the Word of God to us.  But prayers are the words of men.  How do prayers then get into the Bible?  Let us make no mistake about it, the Bible is the Word of God even in the Psalms.  Then are these prayers to God also God’s own word?  That seems rather difficult to understand.  We grasp it only when we remember that we can learn true prayer only from Jesus Christ, from the word of the Son of God, who lives with us men, to God the Father, who lives in eternity.  [...]

JESUS: Proclaim, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Jesus said to the eleven, “Go into all the world and proclaim the goodness to the whole creation.  The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)   Reflection: Mark’s gospel will have three endings forever.  The original ending is 16:8.  However, at some point in transmission, another author added two additional sentences to 16:8, which are [...]

THE LORD’S PRAYER: The Father, by Evelyn Underhill

The crowds who followed Christ hoping for healing or counsel did not ask him to teach them how to pray; nor did he give this prayer to them.  It is not for those who want religion to be helpful, who seek after signs; those who expect it to solve their political problems and cure their diseases, but are not prepared to share its cost.  He gave it to those whom he was going to incorporate into his rescuing system, use in his ministry; the sons of the Kingdom, self-given to the creative purposes of God.  Thou when thou prayest, pray ye on this manner.  It is the prayer of those “sent forth” to declare the Kingdom, whom the world will hate, whose unpopularity with man will be in proportion to their loyalty to God; the apostles [...]

JESUS: Go!, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  And Jesus came and said to them, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son 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.”  (Matthew 28:16, 18a, 19-20)   Reflection: At the end of Matthew’s gospel only eleven disciples are left.  Judas, the betrayer, went off and hanged himself.  So, the eleven disciples meet Jesus on a mountain, one of the Matthean Jesus’s favorite places to say anything important.  This Moses look-a-like commissions [...]

SERMON: Created For Glory, by L. R. Tarsitano

The First Sunday after Easter “I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the Earth; Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” (Isaiah 43:6-7) God addressed these words through his Prophet Isaiah to Jacob, to the head and personification of his Chosen People Israel. Jacob, you will recall, was given the name “Israel” by God, and he was the father of the twelve sons who became the patriarchs of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. These words of God are specifically a promise, first and foremost, in the historical time of Isaiah, when the Chosen People were about to [...]

JESUS: New, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:I, John, saw a new Heaven and a new Earth; for the first Heaven and the first Earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, I am making all things new.  Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” (Revelation 21:1, 3a, 5a, 7)   Reflection: Once all is left behind, newness is experienced.  However, a person cannot have the new until the old is abandoned.  The first Heaven and the first Earth must pass away.  The chaos of the sea must be replaced by a new order.  God is the God of this new order, and those who have left all behind are his children.  They have conquered their fear and been [...]

EASTER STORY: The Church Of The Washing Of The Feet, by Alan Paton

From Ah, But Your Land Is Beautiful The Reverend Isaiah Buti, pastor of the Holy Chuch of Zion in Bochabela, entered the room of the acting chief justice, if not with awe, then certainly with deference.  And certainly with respect too, for not only did Judge Olivier occupy one of the highest seats in the land, but he was held in high esteem by the black people of Bloemfontein.  Was he not the man who had tried to prevent Parliament from removing colored voters from the common roll? The room was the biggest Mr. Buti had seen in his life.  The table was also the biggest he had seen, and behind it was a grand carved chair, and behind the chair, portraits of those who had been chief justices of the Union of South Africa.  And now from the [...]

POETRY: Making The House Ready For The Lord, by Mary Oliver

Dear Lord, I have swept and I have washed but still nothing is as shining as it should be for you. Under the sink, for example, is an uproar of mice—it is the season of their many children. What shall I do? And under the eaves and through the walls the squirrels have gnawed their ragged entrances—but it is the season when they need shelter, so what shall I do? And the raccoon limps into the kitchen and opens the cupboard while the dog snores, the cat hugs the pillow; what shall I do? Beautiful is the new snow falling in the yard and the fox who is staring boldly up the path, to the door. And still I believe you will come, Lord: you will, when I speak to the fox, the sparrow, the lost dog, the shivering sea-goose, know that really I am [...]

JESUS: Knocking On The Door, by Mark G. Boyer

    Scripture:The Son of Man said to John of Patmos, “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: ‘I know your works; you are neither cold not hot.  I wish that you were either cold or hot.  So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  Listen!  I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.'” (Revelation 3:14-16, 20)   Reflection:In the book of Revelation, John of Patmos receives a revelation from the Son of Man, who tells him to write seven letters, each to a specific [...]

JESUS: Patience, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord.  The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains.  You also must be patient.  Strengthen your  hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.  As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance.  You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. (James 5:7-8, 10-11)   Reflection: One who leaves all behind in order to follow Jesus must cultivate patience as part of his or her spirituality of mission.  [...]

JESUS: Speaking Words Of God, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Another person said to Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.”  Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:61-62)     Reflection: The author of Luke’s gospel presents the same two examples of itinerancy as does the author of Matthew’s gospel (see above and Matthew 8:18-22 and Luke 9:57-60).  Both do this because both writers use material found in Q (referring to quelle, the German word for “source” and indicating material found only in Matthew’s gospel and Luke’s gospel).  In Luke’s version of the second person’s request to bury [...]

POETRY: We Take The Sky, by Susanna Childress

We take the sky, as if red is something we could own, something we might find in the stillest moments, as if the earth is humane and wouldn’t break our bones. (None of His were broken. Not one.) Red is in the land too, is in the way we look at each other, the hardness of our sleep, the need to fall down, to tell of the pox that swept Aunt Jess, the drink that ushers Father, the path that never leads to wealth or rest or health—but the one we always take. Shalom, we say. Buena suerte. We always take the sky, fold it over ourselves, the soil, run it across our skin and cling to it, savoring the tart of a lemon, palming a bar of soap even when our hands are clean, naming the insects that fly across the white bulb of moon late at [...]

JESUS: No Pillow, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture: A scribe then approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”  Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”  But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:18-22)   Reflection: Throughout the gospels, Jesus is portrayed as an itinerant preacher.  Itinerancy characterizes Jesus’s mission and that of his followers.  Using two sayings he found in Q (referring to quelle, the German word for “source” and indicating material found [...]

PSALMS: “Lord, Teach Us To Pray”, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So spoke the disciples to Jesus.  In making this request, they confessed that they were not able to pray on their own, that they had to learn to pray.  The phrase, “learning to pray,” sounds strange to us.  If the heart does not overflow and begin to pray by itself, we say, it will never “learn” to pray.  But it is a dangerous error, surely very widespread among Christians, to think that the heart can pray by itself.  For then we confuse wishes, hopes, sighs, laments, rejoicings – all of which the heart can do by itself – with prayer.  And we confuse Earth and Heaven, man and God.  Prayer does not mean simply to pour out one’s heart.  It means rather to find the way to God and to speak with him, [...]

JESUS: Word Doers, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture: Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.  For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. (James 1:22-24)   Reflection: Listening and believing, one aspect of a spirituality of mission, includes acting on – in the word of the letter of James, “doing” – the word.  The letter of James addresses Jewish Christians in the late first century CE.  James, in contrast to Paul’s position on works, advocates the practice or living of the word heard.  From James’s point of view, if a person hears the word and doesn’t [...]

THE LORD’S PRAYER: Introductory, by Evelyn Underhill

Prayer is the substance of eternal life.  It gives back to man, insofar as he is willing to live to capacity – that is to say, to give love and suffer pain – the beatitude without which he is incomplete; for it sets going, deepens, and at last perfects that mutual indwelling of two orders which redeems us from unreality, and in which the creative process reaches its goal.  There is, as Henri Bremond has said, even in the poorest and crudest prayer, “a touch of Pentecost.”  It awaits and expects the action of the Spirit, acknowledges the most mysterious and yet the most certain reality of our experience; the intercourse of the Transcendent God with fugitive man, and of fugitive man with the Transcendent God.  Yet all our [...]

JESUS: Two-Edged Sword, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)     Reflection: A  two-edged sword is one that is sharpened on both edges.  The person wielding a two-edged sword cuts another in two ways in opposite directions, leaving a huge wide-open wound.  This is why the author of Hebrews declares that God’s word is sharper than any two-edged sword.  The words God speaks are alive; they achieve the purpose for which God speaks them.  In the book of Genesis, God speaks the word, “light,” and light appears.  God speaks the word, [...]

BLESSING: Blessing Of The Resurrection, by Peter John Cameron

From: Blessing Prayers Word of God Blessed by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in Heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)  Litany of Resurrection Graces Lord Jesus, by your Resurrection you have reconciled all people to God.  Risen Savior, stay with me. Lord Jesus, when you rose from the dead you blessed us with the Easter gift of peace.  Risen Savior, stay with me. Lord Jesus, by your rising you restored us to friendship with the [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 15 — The Resurrection, by Joan Chittister

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Perhaps the most difficult – even spiritually dangerous – dimension of the Stations of the Cross is that lacking a sense or slightest awareness of resurrection, they leave the Christian standing at the edge of the tomb.  Numb, lost.  Bereft.  Without a single thought of what comes next.  And all of that despite the fact that Christians are not meant to be the people of the cross; Christians are the people of the empty tomb.  We are alleluia people, Augustine writes, and alleluia is our cry.  Perhaps that’s true, theologically so.  But it is not the final emotional impression of those whose immersion in the life of Jesus centers around the crucifixion in the Stations of the Cross [...]

JESUS: Speaking Words Of God, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:The one who comes from Heaven is above all.  He testifies to what he has seen and heard, yet no one accepts his testimony.  Whoever has accepted his testimony has certified this, that God is true.  He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. (John 3:31c-34)   Reflection: Several times in John’s gospel the narrator of the events gets carried away and inserts his own reflections on an event.  After narrating the account about Jesus and John baptizing and John declaring Jesus to be greater than John, the writer records a reflection about the one – Jesus – who comes from the world above (where God lives) to the Earth (where people live) to testify to what he has [...]

SAINTS: The Beloved Disciple — It’s All About Love, by Greg Friedman

From: Lent With The Saints Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Colossians 3:1-4; John 10:1-9 In 1984 singer Tina Turner had a comeback hit with her recording of What’s Love God To Do With It?  Years later I drew a lot of smiles when I began an Easter Sunday homily with the song’s title.  It’s a question that explains the Easter Gospel, John 20:1-9, which tells us that Peter and the “disciple Jesus loved” came to the tomb early on the first day of the week after hearing Mary Magdalene’s report of the empty tomb. The Beloved Disciple arrives first but waits until Peter enters and sees Jesus’s burial wrappings neatly folded.  Peter doesn’t understand what he sees.  But the other [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 14 — Jesus Is Laid In The Tomb, by Joan Chittister

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Death is not a single action; it is many actions overlapping that haunt, plague, empty the soul of every strand of life and all at the same time.  It is a time of mixed emotions.  There is a relief that comes when the suffering ends.  The one we love cannot be hurt again.  And that is good. But now the focus shifts from them to us.  Everything that was glorious and challenging, uplifting, and meaningful in life has ended.  What is there left for us in life now?  Is there the means to go on?  And if the means is present, is there yet the will to go on, the energy the down-deep care of even beginning to go on again? There is the sense of weightlessness, the thought that life comes down [...]

JESUS: Zechariah And Mary, by Mark G. Boyer

  Scripture:The angel said to Zechariah, “I am Gabriel.  I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. (Luke 1:19, 13)     Reflection: The author of Luke’s gospel likes to narrate a story about a man and balance it with a story about a woman.  He begins this literary technique with the twin appearances of the angel Gabriel to a man named Zechariah and, six months later, to a woman named Mary.  Zechariah hears the word of God as Gabriel delivers it to him, but he does not believe that he and his aged wife, Elizabeth, can conceive a child.  So, because he did not believe Gabriel’s [...]

STATIONS OF THE CROSS: Station 13 — Jesus Is Taken Down From The Cross, by Joan Chittister

From: The Way of the Cross The Experience Now when it is finally, irrevocably over, when there is nothing left to do but to admit the loss, the inevitability of reality takes over.  Faith is bruised.  Hope is gone.  The door to yesterday has clanged shut and we are forever bereft of whole segments of our life.  We are alone – the worst word in the English language has descended on our shoulders.  And suddenly we begin to realize how limited we ourselves have always been but only now had to admit.  We are not meant to be alone. The insight crushes us to the ground.  Where is the rest of me, if not in a coffin of pain in the front of the world, never to be able to hide again? The realization that death eclipses time, that it alone [...]