On Being Seen

Luke 24:13-35 – The 3rd Sunday of Easter – for Sunday, May 4, 2014

“Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him…” (Luke 24:31)

I stumbled through seminary in the midst of the 20th century, probably passing subjects like Ancient Greek and Old Testament Theology because of a professor’s pity on those of us brave enough or naïve enough (or both) to consider ministry. In seminary, I often (desperately) flipped through a book’s pages until discovering a quote to satisfy the low bar of my needs for a paper on the beatitudes or Paul’s notion of justification by faith. Alas, the 21st century of googling has elevated me into the depths of being a slacker. I’m a copy-and-paste dude, a cherry-pick-the-Bible-verse guy and a search-for-the-selective-facts fella that quickly (desperately) seeks something—anything, please—to bolster and boost my opinion.the-road-to-emmaus-daniel-bonnell

Have I lowered your opinion of me enough?

Even so, please join me on the road to Emmaus.

You know Emmaus, don’t you?

Of course you do. I assume many my blog’s treasured readers are primarily churchy, faithy and Christiany ministers. And those equally treasured readers that don’t professionally marry, bury and baptize are at least interested in the Bible. In religion. In God. In Jesus.

So I’m preaching to the proverbial choir when I ask if you know Emmaus. Luke’s author said the village was seven miles from Jerusalem, or—to hew closer to the ancient languages I (tried to) study in seminary—Emmaus was 60 or so stadia from the City of David. In Greek measurements, a stadion is 600 feet. 60 stadia would be equivalent to 6.8 miles and modern Biblical translations round that up to seven miles.

How long does it take you to walk seven miles? Continue reading →

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Glimpsing Danaus Plexippus

John 20:19-31  – The Second Sunday of Easter – for April 27, 2014

“But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them with Jesus came.” (John 20:24)

I rode my bicycle, all smiles and pedaling fast.

Then a butterfly attacked me!

I ducked . . . whew!

mexico-monarch-butterflies.jpeg-620x412However—since I’m a two-hundred pound guy, and was riding at twenty miles per hour, and wore a goofy-looking helmet—shouldn’t I instead say: I avoided smacking a butterfly?

After all, who’d have suffered more from impact: Chunky Larry or Madame Butterfly?

I’d been dashing along the bike trail, admiring the scenery, alert to other bicyclists and the occasional walker and mostly minding my own business. Then, whoosh! On the far left side of my peripheral vision a winged creature dipped into view. I ducked. All survived the near miss.

It was my second butterfly encounter within the week. A few days before, I’d been lounging in a lawn chair after finishing yard work. Just passing the time. Just enjoying a spring afternoon. And then, floating by the orange tree, I spotted a monarch butterfly. For a leisurely moment, the Danaus plexippus did what butterflies do so wondrously well. It flitted up and down, a splash of brash gold and black against the tree’s green backdrop. Unlike an anxious, frenetic hummingbird or a proverbial busy buzzing bee, the monarch took its time.

I watched, my mind wandering until the insect disappeared over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard. Continue reading →

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Easter Clearing

John 20:1-18  – Easter – for Sunday, April 20, 2014

“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord . . .’” (John 20:18)

Did Mary pause and turn for a last glance at Jesus before she left the clearing around the tomb?

I would’ve.

dawn-in-madrid-forest-wallpaperAfter Mary realized Jesus wasn’t the gardener, he’d shared reassuring words. He’d instructed her to seek his disciples—“my brothers,” John’s Gospel had Jesus say—and to give them a message. In the fourth Gospel’s take on the resurrection, Mary is the only woman at the tomb. The other three accounts have more and different visiting women. No other Gospel mistakes Jesus for a gardener. Matthew includes at least one tomb guard. All the Gospels describe men (or a man) in white waiting in (or by) the tomb. They are angels, or they are not. For my faith, imagination serves an essential role in (barely) comprehending the resurrection. I don’t think any Gospel writer lied, or had the “better” or more “accurate” resurrection tale. And the four Easter stories—as we casually do with Christmas—shouldn’t be tossed into spring blender so that, like the shepherds and magi, everyone appears at the same place with the same purposes.

I embrace imagination. No one knows what happened. Except you know how you react as you read these early morning moments.

And so I read John’s version.

Mary was leaving to give Jesus’ disciples a message.

Because I’d look back, I imagine she did. Continue reading →

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