After Easter, before Pentecost!

Good Monday Morning to this week 17 of 2019

A relatively little known Swiss artist named Eugène Burnand. (1850-1921) painted a rather old-fashioned realist in 1998 while all the others were embracing modernism.

The Disciples Peter and John running to the sepulcher on the morning of the resurrection.

Those who take the time to find it in d’Orsay come away saying that viewing the canvas is similar to a spiritual experience. Some say it is the greatest Easter painting ever made.

Les Disciples Pierre et Jean by Eugene Bernard, Musee D’Orsay in Paris France Europe

Screenshot 2019-04-21 at 23.40.40

As the first blush of dawn is tinting the clouds, Peter and John are rushing to the tomb of Christ. They’ve just been told by Mary Magdalene that she and the other women found it empty, that Christ has risen. Her words are ringing in their ears. But their faces and their bodies reveal they aren’t sure they can believe her.

John, the younger of the two, wrings his hands together anxiously. He was with Jesus when he died on the cross, the only disciple to stay by his side to the end. He looks as if he can barely bring himself to believe that Christ might be alive again.

And then there’s Peter. While John was Jesus’ only faithful disciple, Peter was his most faithless. He was the only one to verbally deny even knowing Jesus in his darkest hour. In this picture, Peter looks terrified, hopeful, ashamed, desperate. He’s not sure whether he can believe the reports. But he wants to. Oh, how he wants to.

Peter’s hand grasps his chest as if feeling for courage, the courage that deserted him just nights earlier.

They both lean forward, walking briskly, readying themselves to break into a run.

Aren’t these all pictures of the moments before, at Easter and before Pentecost, moments described with enormous emotion drawn by Burnand.

Bearing the burden of our brokenness, ashamed of our denials of Christ, and hoping against all hope that Jesus is alive? And that he loves us? And forgives us? Surely this is also the posture we have felt or we know or we long for, to lean in, wringing our hands, clutching our chests, desperate and hopeful for the truth of his coming, the return of the Messiah and the coming King, so closely after the greatest defeat of time.

Burnand depicts no women, no tomb, no gardener. Only the promise of what’s to come.

Is that your experience of Resurrection as well? We take it by faith and we’re desperate for it to be true. We rush headlong into the future, holding ourselves in order to believe, trusting that Christ is alive and that he will return to vindicate our feeble faith and forgive us our trespasses.

May this overlooked masterpiece be a comfort to you this season between Easter and before Pentecost. May your faith increase and your brokenness be healed.  May your eyes be filled with the same desperate hope that Peter’s and John’s were on that first Easter morning.

I wish you a wonderful week of expectation, faith and wonder.

Philemon

Screenshot of the masterwork of Eugene Bernard 1899,
Quotes and comments of Michael Frost
Special thanks also Todd Todd Rutkowski for posting  FB 21.04.19

 

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When Jesus comes to town

Good Monday Morning to this week 15 of 2019

Yesterday the Passion Week started with Palm Sunday. Jerusalem, which had a normal population of about 50,000 at the time of Jesus, had at least tripled in size because of the influx of pilgrims celebrating the Jewish holiday Passover. Early Sunday morning Jesus made his dramatic public entry into the city. This was the end of any privacy and safety his ministry had afforded previously. It marked the beginning of what would be an inevitable collision course with the religious and political authorities: both Jewish and Roman.

From the East Jesus entered near the Temple, crowds began to gather to see the rabbi from Galilee. The procession began accompanied by shouting and singing from the throngs as they threw down their garments on the pathway to cushion his ride — an Oriental custom still observed on occasions — as well as palm fronds, the symbol of triumph. The Old Testament prophet Zechariah had foretold the arrival of the Messianic king in Jerusalem via the humble conveyance of a donkey. Here the crowd hailed Jesus as “the son of David”, a loaded name used at a loaded time. The Bible had predicted that the Messiah would be the son of David.

The priestly establishment was understandably disturbed, as the palm was the national emblem of an independent Palestine. These were essentially Jewish flags. What if Jesus should claim to be the heir of King David? Religiously, Jesus was a dangerous item to the current establishment. The people were hailing the Teacher from Galilee as something more than a man, and Jesus was not denying or blunting this “blasphemous” adulation. The Pharisees had been reprimanded by Jesus in public debate, being called vipers, whitewashed tombs, and devourers of widow’s houses. Humiliated, they would be only too happy to conspire with the scribes, elders, and chief priests against him!

What is your, what is my reaction to Jesus’s entrance in two processions as being political demonstrations? The Sunday demonstration (Palm Sunday) occurs at the entrance to Jerusalem, the Monday one at the entrance to the temple.

The historical political Jesus was a spirit person, one of those figures in human history with an experiential awareness of the reality of God…Jesus was a teacher of wisdom who regularly used the classic form of wisdom speech to teach a subversive and alternative wisdom. Jesus was a social prophet, similar to the classical prophets of ancient Israel. As such, he criticised the elites of his time, was an advocate of an alternative social vision, and was often in conflict with authorities. Jesus was a movement founder who brought into being a Jewish renewal or revitalisation movement that challenged and shattered the social boundaries of his day, a movement that eventually became the early Christian church.” Marcus Borg

Jesus, a social prophet and movement initiation, a passionate advocate of God’s justice. He was also a healer, a mystic, a wisdom teacher but most certainly he wasn’t killed for his healings but because of his politics, because of his passion for God’s justice.

This “already” of the Kingdom of God was not an instantaneous flash of divine light, but an interactive process between divinity and humanity, a joint operation between God and ourselves. It is not us without God, or God without us. It is not that we wait for God, but that God waits for us. You won’t find Jesus in the land of the dead. He is still with us.

The powers killed him – but they couldn’t stop him. They crucified him and buried him in a rich man’s tomb. But imperial execution and a tomb couldn’t hold him.

He’s still loose in the world. He’s still out there, still here, still recruiting people to share his passion for the Kingdom of God – a transformed world here and now. It’s not over, he still “comes to town”!

I wish you a blessed week as you live a transformed life with God waiting for you!

Philemon

Prayer is the greater work.

Good Monday Morning to this week 15 of 2019

Thinking about the Memorial season, the 100 days of mourning starting, remembering the terrible genocide in Rwanda I started thinking about prayer. What would these 25 years looked like, if it weren’t for the prayer of millions?
#kwibuka25 remember-unite-renew

Throughout history, faithful followers of Jesus have continually lifted the cries of their heart to the Father, screaming out at injustice, acting as a voice for the voiceless and selflessly interceding for those in need.

These little prayers may well have felt like drops in the ocean to those who prayed them, but these prayers make an impact that echoes throughout the generations, inspires others in their walk with God and led to revolutions of the move of the Spirit across the world. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works—prayer is the greater work.”

Saint Patrick
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Amen

Mother Teresa
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends
and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Amen

Immaculee Ilibagiza

Clutching her father’s rosary beads and a Bible, Immaculee, a Rwandan genocide survivor, hid in a tiny bathroom with seven women, imagining the fate that awaited her family and friends being hunted down during the Rwandan genocide.
She prayed in faith and with a gentle whisper from the Holy Spirit :
“Remember me from the bathroom?”
Amen

Close your eyes. Impact eternity.
African

Wishing you a blessed week!
Philemon