Friday, March 25, 2016

The Living Parable of a New Kind of King

Text: Matthew 21.1-11

We’re coming to the close of Holy Week. For the Christian, this most sacred of weeks started with Palm Sunday. That’s when we celebrate our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Many of us waved our palm branches this past Sunday in honor of Jesus’s victory parade, if you will, as Messiah.

We sang “Hosanna!” which means “Save us now!” and we learned it was in fact a war cry of sorts. The people were calling out to God, echoing the words from Psalm 118.25-26, “O Yahweh, save us! (Hosanna!) O Yahweh, grant us success! Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh.” Because surely the one who comes in the name of the Lord will save his people from despair.

Entering Jerusalem in this manner, accompanied by these shouts of praise and petition, was not an accident. Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. He was creating a living parable. He was acting out a message about his person and his purpose. He had something he wanted to communicate and he did it in grand style.

My brother pointed this out to me in a devotional he wrote recently for his church’s website: “Instead of just entering the city with his disciples as he had in times past, this time Jesus chose to stage a drama to make a statement. Drawing on the history of the Jewish people from the time of David, mixing in imagery from the prophets, Jesus proclaimed the he was God’s king and chosen one and ruler over his kingdom.”

A drama. An enacted parable. A teaching tool.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Twitter Round Up

Follow me @resaliens on Twitter.
Some silly tweets from this past week. Some are mine, others I've retweeted. Puns, one liners, clean humor - all fair game. :)

  • I'd like to lose weight but I don't want to get caught up in one of those "eat right and exercise" scams.
  • I'm called a Master of Suspense because
  • I think I'm going to use the word skedaddle more often.
  • Ban pre-shredded cheese. Make America grate again.
  • An editor wants to publish you for exposure? What other venue lets you only get exposure while everyone else gets paid? College basketball.
When I found out there will be another Indiana Jones movie, I came up with some possible titles:
  • Indiana Jones and the Early Bird Special
  • Indiana Jones and the Missing Dentures
  • Indiana Jones and the Golden Walker
  • Indiana Jones and the Titanium Hip Replacement
  • Indiana Jones and the Mysterious Face Lift
  • Indiana Jones and the Age of Depends
And finally, I tweeted out a 25 part #TwitFic serial of a flash fiction piece I wrote a few years ago. Took me all day! I'm gonna have to find a scheduling app for Twitter if I do this again. If you want to catch up on the experiment, visit #TwitFic and scroll from 1 to 25. :)

For whatever reason, this tweet in my serial was the most retweeted:

  • “And the recursive function took care of our earlier grammatical problems. Even the predictive parser is operating properly.” #TwitFic 06/25
Until next time, keep tweeting!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Holy Week Meditations

I'd like to share three devotional sermons for you to read and reflect upon during these final days of Lent. You can purchase them at Amazon via the links below, or if this is a hardship, simply email me and I'd be happy to send you a meditation of your choice. Blessings to you as we enter Holy Week.

Word from the Cross: "I Thirst" is a 10 page reflection from John's Gospel.

As you may be aware, Jesus spoke "7 Last Words" from the cross. This ebook is a meditation on the 5th word from the cross: After this, knowing that all things were now accomplished and that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” (John 19.28)

Journey to the Cross: Servanthood is a 10 page reflection from Mark's Gospel.

On his way to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world, Jesus told his disciples that to follow him was to follow in the way of service. This ebook is a meditation on the the new rules of servanthood that Christ shares with his disciples as he journeys to the cross as recounted in Mark 10:32-45.

Journey to the Cross: Faith is a 10 page reflection from Mark's Gospel as well, a followup to Christ's message on servanthood.

As Christ continues to Jerusalem through Jericho, he encounters the faith of blind Bartimaeus, who "sees" the Messiah and who follows his new Lord as a disciple. Let us follow along as Jesus journeys to the cross as recounted in Mark 10:46-52.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Summary of the Christian Year

Orienting Our Lives Around the Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ

The Christian year is comprised of a number of seasons and holy days that echo the life and ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we journey through the Christian year, we are reenacting the journey of Christ’s life. We follow Jesus from his birth, into his ministry, and on through his passion, death, resurrection, and ascension.

Then we continue in his steps as he gives us the Spirit and expands his kingdom through the building of his church. The Christian year ends with the expectation of his second coming (or advent), which in turn starts us off on another year together as a community of believers.

The Christian Seasons and Important Days of Worship

(Note: Many dates change from year to year based on when Christmas and Easter fall.)

Advent – The 4 Sundays Before Christmas

Advent means coming or arrival. During the Season of Advent, we celebrate Christ’s first coming as a baby at Bethlehem and anticipate his second coming. This is a time of preparation but also of joy and excitement, looking ahead to how God will reveal himself to us in Christ.

Christmas – 12 Days from December 25 to January 5

At Christmas we recognize God’s special gift to the world, his son Jesus Christ. We follow his example and offer gifts to each other during this season. Though the exact date of Christ’s birth is unknown, we gather on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to celebrate his incarnation: the eternal Word who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1.14).

Epiphany – January 6 (also called Three Kings Day); the 4 to 7 weeks following January 6 to the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday)

The term epiphany means ‘to make known’ or ‘to reveal.’ On this day we remember the Magi who brought gifts to the Christ child, a revelation of Jesus to the world as Lord and King.
Note 1: Epiphany Sunday is often celebrated on the Sunday just prior to January 6.
Note 2: Christ’s Baptism is often celebrated on the Sunday following Epiphany.
Note 3: Some traditions refer to the Season of Epiphany, others call it Ordinary Time.

Lent – 40 Days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday (the night before Easter)

Lent is a penitential season of preparation for Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for forty days, since the six Sundays within the season are not counted.

Key Days of Worship During Lent: Ash Wednesday; then Holy Week which includes: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

“Ash Wednesday, the 7th Wednesday before Easter Sunday, refers to the ancient practice of placing ashes on worshippers’ foreheads as a sign of humility before God, a symbol of mourning and sorrow at the death that sin brings into the world. It not only prefigures the mourning at the death of Jesus, but also places the worshipper in a position to realize the consequences of sin.”  (Dennis Bratcher)

Easter – 7 Weeks of Easter: 50 Days from Easter to Pentecost Sunday

The date of Easter is determined by a system based on a formula decided by the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. In this system, Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. This usually occurs on March 21, which means the date of Easter can range between March 22 and April 25 depending on the lunar cycle. (Bratcher)

Note 1: The Easter Season includes Ascension Day, always on a Thursday, 10 days before Pentecost. It is often celebrated on the Sunday before Pentecost.
Note 2: Though ‘Easter’ is not a specifically Christian term, the day is definitely not a simple celebration of spring. ‘Resurrection Sunday’ might be a better term for this most holy of days in the Christian year.

Pentecost Sunday – 50 days After Easter

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit (recorded in Acts 2) occurred 50 days (penta = 50) after the resurrection. This ‘upper room’ experience fulfilled the prophecies of Joel 2 and promises of Jesus (Acts 1:8). The emphasis is on the work of God’s Holy Spirit to enable the people of God to witness to Jesus the Christ.

Ordinary Time – From Trinity Sunday to Christ the King Sunday
Trinity Sunday – the Sunday after Pentecost, Celebrates God’s Triune Nature
Christ the King Sunday –  the Sunday before Advent, Celebrates Christ’s Kingly Return

In the final few weeks of Ordinary Time, many churches direct attention to the coming of the Kingdom of God, thus ending the Christian year with an eschatological theme (referring to the end times). This brings us back to the Season of Advent, the coming of Christ, which begins a new liturgical calendar.

Note: Ordinary Time comes from the word ordinal, which simply means counted.

(Acknowledgment: Much of this material was adapted from Dennis Bratcher’s website, The Voice:

Saturday, March 12, 2016

This Week's Tweets

Follow @resaliens on Twitter.
A Collection of Humor, One Liners, and Puns 

My twitter feed isn't anything to write home about, so I'll blog about it instead. Here are some of the highlights (?) from this past week - my attempts at levity and a non-commercial real life online human connection amidst the loud and incessant dreck we've grown to accept.

Not saying my feed has better dreck than what you've read before. But I'm not loud. Or that incessant. So after you skim through the following tweets I recently posted, give me a try @resaliens. A few are mine, the rest are "public domain." ;) Enjoy!

  • You know you're a book lover when you still get upset thinking about the Library of Alexandria.
  • Alfred E. Neuman, where are you when we need you? You know what I'm talking about.
  • I'm cooking fish tonight but don't have a recipe in mind. I guess I'll just flounder around a bit and come up with something.
  • I was shocked when I heard George Martin died until someone said it was Martin of the Beatles not Baelor the Blessed.
  • Who remembers trackbacks? Do any bloggers still do that? ;)
  • I wonder if fellow Whigs called members of their own party who didn't really adhere to their platform WINOs.
  • Almost the season for Peeps. Best way to eat them? Throw them in the trash.
  • Spouse complained again about the brand of vinegar I bought. Yeah, same old whine.
  • Stupid? I don't know the meaning of the word!
  • I'm joining the New Tory Party. We'll make America Great Britain again.
  • You know that song Evil Woman by ELO? For the longest time I thought they were singing 'medieval woman'. Which never really made sense.