Service Recap; March 27

“But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.”

This is probably how the story should end.  A few women-those eccentric, emotional, unreliable witnesses-tell the faithful 11 that they have gone to the tomb and that there is no body, and in fact there was a messenger who reminded the women that this is precisely what Jesus said would happen. But, like they do today, the words seemed like an idle tale, not the sort of tale you actually believe in.

Bob pointed out that the language used in Luke to describe the disciple’s reaction, Idle Tale, is a little tame. More likely, the disciples thought the women were selling a load of wishful BS. More likely a fool’s story than the actual state of things. But something about the idle tale of the three women gave Peter pause. Something about the idle tale that the women were weaving sounded almost too good not to be true. Peter leans in to the women’s fantastical tale because it had something of Jesus’ own words running through them.

Today the words may strike us the same way. Some believe the tale of the women that Easter morning. Some believe it enough for it to count as faith. Others cannot bring themselves to believe a resurrection happened. Others have no patience for these sorts of stories. If the words seem an idle tale to you, that’s fine. I can’t blame you. The disciples thought the same thing. In fact, if you’ve never thought to yourself, “Hmmm…isn’t it more likely that this is an idle tale?” then maybe you’ve never really thought through the Easter claim: that a dead man did not stay dead.

Peter sprints off towards the tomb to see for himself. The words of the women seemed like an idle tale, but there was a glint of truth in their telling. The words of Mary, Joanna, and the other Mary, that idle tale of the women on Easter morning came to be called the gospel. And in a matter of days, it would be all the disciples would talk about.

Our Easter prayer is to have the courage of the women, and if we can’t afford that, then maybe at least the curiosity of Peter.

The good news is improbable, and I don’t blame you for calling it a fool’s fantasy. Frederick Beuchner puts it this way, “Maybe the truth of it is that it’s too good not to be true.”

Service Recap; March 13

Our worship this lent has been wrenching. James and Davin have led us into uncomfortably honest places where, like in this week’s communion song we exclaim, “I want somebody to tell me what is the soul of man.” This Lent has been an invitation to listen to “sit in the dark and wait for the light.”

This Sunday, Jesus sat at the table of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Perhaps Jesus and Lazarus empathized withone another about what it felt like to be wanted. Lazarus, because he was raised from the dead, is undeniable proof of Jesus’ power and both men have a price on their heads.

The political and religious elite want both men silenced. They don’t know how else to respond to the inexpressible light that has just broken into their worlds. They are understandably frightened by the claims that Jesus is making and the actions that back him up. The brightness of Christ is blinding to them, not illuminating. It reminded me of a passage from Frederick Beuchner:[1]

“People are prepared for everything except for the fact that beyond the darkness of their blindness there is a great light. They are prepared to go on breaking their backs plowing the same old field until the cows come home without seeing, until they stub their toes on it, that there is a treasure buried in that field rich enough to buy Texas…They are prepared for the potluck supper at First Presbyterian but not for the marriage supper of the Lamb…the good news breaks into a world where the news has been so bad for so long that when it is good nobody hears it except for a few.”

Mary is one of the few. She has sat in the darkness. She has wept. Listened. She breaks open a forty-thousand-dollar bottle of perfume onto Jesus feet, but Judas cannot see it as light. He sees it as folly, as waste, as the move of a pathetic woman who isn’t smart enough to use her money more wisely.

Bob suggested this week that often, the only faithful thing to do is wait in the darkness for the light. This Lent we’ve been waiting, sitting, listening. This Sunday we arrive in Jerusalem where we will experience great darkness, but we are also prepared to see extravagant light.