The old trick question about the lifeboat puts most of us in a lose-lose situation. In various formulations, the question goes like this: If two people you dearly love, value, or have allegiances to were on a sinking ship, and there was only room in the lifeboat for you and one other person, who would you save? Who gets left behind?
Exploring the Word
The way of the Kingdom bears little resemblance to the way of the law. Its means, its motives, and its goals often move like a crosscurrent against the accepted moral code. The Pharisees and Jesus once had a telling exchange that underscored the difference between these ways. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the people cried hosannas to the king, which alarmed the religious leaders who feared a riot and ensuing crackdown.
The story of Peter’s shadow captivates our attention like a childhood fairy tale. Imagine a healing power so magnificent and penetrating that it can be communicated in a holy person’s passing shadow! There is scarcely any intentionality involved in such a miracle—it happens automatically because of the mere presence of the holy one, if only for a moment.
The Easter story, for most of the participants involved, does not begin with the Resurrection of Jesus. How could it? No one was there! No one saw what happened or could report the phenomenon as artists and visionaries have imagined it since.
At the start of Holy Week, I find myself most grateful for the insight and foresight of the ones who originally compiled the canon of scripture. What richness is given to the church with four unique portraits of the Passion of Jesus! Some early church leaders found this same idea rather scandalous: that more than one version of the gospel would be preserved as authoritative.
In this day and age, some will think it “reasonable” or simply realistic to admit that some things can’t be done and some divides will never be bridged. The goal of world peace, mouthed by every beauty pageant winner, or the eradication of poverty may just be pipe dreams.
As a liturgical season, Lent has had a bad rap as a time for glumness. We aren’t even allowed to say the word “alleluia” because it’s too happy! Maybe it’s the penitential purple that casts a shadow on these weeks or the knowledge that we are moving ever closer to Passion Week and the cross.
How many names do you have? Think of all the ways people get your attention. A man named John Sims may be Jack to his friends, and in certain formal situations, Mr. Sims. But more important, he may be Daddy to someone and Honey to someone else. Maybe he’s even the boss, the villain, or the hero in someone’s eyes.
If you were waiting for a sign from heaven to confirm that God was on your side, what exactly would you be looking for? And where would you go to look for it? Ancient people knew, or thought they knew, what a sign from heaven looked like. For one thing, it came from the general direction of heaven, which was up.
One of the things we stand to lose in a society dedicated to rugged individualism is a sense of our connectedness. No person may be an island, but many of us live as if we are. A recent statistic notes that nearly one-third of all Americans live in a household of one.