Author: Jason C. Stanley

Holy Week

God’s Will, Not Mine

Read Matthew 26:36-46.

One summer during a mission camp week when I was in high school, I was on a work crew at the home of Ms. Myrtle in Richmond, Virginia. As the week came to a close, Ms. Myrtle was so overwhelmed with gratitude, that she went around her home collecting things to give to us. To some framed pictures, to one a book of crossword puzzles, and to another, a camping stool.

Ms. Myrtle was a religious person, with pictures of Jesus and crosses all over her house. On one of her walls was a framed picture of Jesus praying in Gethesamane. She took that picture off the wall, wrote a personal message on the back, and handed it to me.

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It is a powerful scene. Jesus has had a final meal with his disciples. He has celebrated the Passover feast. Judas leaves the party early. Jesus and the remaining disciples go to the garden. Once there, Jesus steals away to pray as he had done so many times before.

It is here in the garden that Jesus calls upon God in the intimate language of Abba, or Father. It is also where Jesus prays, “Not mine will be done, but yours.” Jesus is not giving up to what will happen in the next couple of hours. He is surrounding to God in complete and full trust.

Jesus’s prayer is a confession of trust in God.

When Dad was in the hospital for his prostate cancer, the chemo and radiation treatments had left him weak. I stayed overnight one night. As we were talking, Dad lifted his hands as high as he could and said to me, “It’s in God’s hands now.”

For a time I thought that Dad was giving up and it broke me. I could not stand the thought of my father giving up and letting cancer win. It took some time before I realized that he was not giving up. He was, instead, putting all trust in God.

We too can trust God in the most dire of circumstances. Suffering and pain is not ideal in the life of the Christian, but it does happen. And when it does, we can put our trust in the One who is strong when we are weak.

Holy Week

Guest Post: An Insightful Question

by Rev. Andrew Taylor-Troutman

 

Read Matthew 26:6–13.

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.comThere’s a scene in the baseball movie, Moneyball, where Brad Pitt (as the general manager of a professional baseball team) challenges a room full of veteran scouts by asking repeatedly, “What’s the problem?” (Be aware there is explicit language is this clip.) Pitt’s insight is that their solutions are inadequate because they have not grasped the fundamental nature of the struggle at hand. They need new ways of thinking.

Notice in our text that the disciples were angered by the woman’s actions (Mt 26:8). Those who were closest to Jesus couldn’t identify the problem either. Perhaps like veteran baseball scouts, many of us are likewise preferential to “what we’ve always done.” We are irritated by new ways of thinking and even threatened by the inclusion of other people. There is nothing wrong with tradition per se; but what prevents us from achieving new insight?

This question prompts reflection upon verse eleven and the famous (or infamous) maxim about “always having the poor among you.” Does this imply a grudging acknowledgement, even callous acceptance, of the reality of poverty? Does this mean that we should simply stop thinking about the problem? I don’t think so. Consider the full citation from which this verse is drawn: “Since there will always be the poor on the earth, I command you: ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land’” (Deut 15:11). The ongoing presence of those in need does not justify a lack of response; rather the exact opposite–it gives us a mandate to act. We need to think differently and the example of others can be our guide.

One scholar, Eugene Boring, characterizes this text in Matthew as the story of the “insightful” woman: she brilliantly illustrates a new way of looking at the problems of society. She recognizes that Jesus is worthy to be praised, even though he will be executed. She realizes that the glory of the God is manifested in death upon the cross–and, just as importantly, she acts upon her awareness. Some, like the disciples, might question whether she solved the problem; but the point, I think, is that she became a living sacrifice thereby transforming her understanding (Ro 12:1–2).

As we seek insight into the fundamental nature of society’s problems and their solutions for a new time, may we remember that simple acts of grace can open the door to the richness of worship. Instead of fear and anger, may we learn from those who give of themselves. And may the right questions inspire faithful actions.

Rev. Andrew Taylor-Troutman is the pastor of New Dublin Presbyterian Church and author of two books, Take My Hand: A Theological Memoir and Parables of Parenthood. He blogs and can be reached at www.takemyhandmemoir.com

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Palm Sunday: Occupy Jerusalem

Read Matthew 21:1-11.

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.comToday is Palm Sunday. It is a joyous and celebratory Sunday as we praise Jesus as the Son of God. We process into the sanctuary with palm branches waving high. It is a special time. But, Palm Sunday is also the hinge in the Jesus Story. Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week, when the story takes a dramatic turn.

History tells us that there were two processions that day into Jerusalem. From the east, Jesus entered on his humble donkey, and from the west Pilate entered with his array of imperial power. It was a visual reminder of who was in charge. The soldiers, the chariots, the swords, and the bows- all instruments of war – reminded the people of Jerusalem that Caesar was King.

And not just King. The imperial power came with an imperial theology that clearly stated that Caesar was Lord. Caesar was a son of the god Apollo. Pilate’s procession did not only bring a political reminder, but it also brought with it a theological reminder – that all this talk about a Jewish Messiah was nonsense because the people already had a son of god in Caesar.

Jesus’ procession, which we know from the Gospel text, was planned. Before arriving to Jerusalem, Jesus gives his disciples the instructions to prepare the donkey and her colt. Did Jesus know that Pilate was processing in from the other end of town? Assuming that he did (he is Jesus), it is yet another incident when Jesus turns the world upside down.

Jesus offers an alternative to Rome. Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem is one of peace. Jesus – the Christ – the long awaited Messiah – will drive out war with love and peace. The instruments of war will be replaced with instruments of peace.

Pilate’s procession represented the kingdom of Caesar, while Jesus’ procession proclaimed the Kingdom of God. This is the conflict that is Holy Week.

Some scholars have referred to the Palm Sunday procession as a political demonstration. A few years ago, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations received a lot of publicity. There have been Occupy movements before and since then. These movements, according to Wikipedia are about “social and economic inequality.” Instead of the 1% getting all the good stuff, while the 99% struggle to get by, there should be equality across the board, rather than a hierarchy. Some of you may remember this image floating around social media at the time:

Jesus_Occupy Wall Street

No matter where you stand on the whole Occupy thing, Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem with so many people boldly proclaiming him as the Son of God (and not Caesar) was certainly seen by many of the day as a political demonstration. But when we read the rest of the story, we know that the proclamation and the praise turns into threats and cries for blood.

Palm Sunday reminds us of the tension that is the conflict between the earthly kingdom of power and war and the peaceful Kingdom of God.

Hotel Rwanda (2004)

Hotel RwandaRwanda is a tiny country in central Africa. In 1994 millions of people who belonged to the Tutsi tribe were killed by those who belonged to the Hutu tribe in a massive massacre. The film is not a story about the massacre or the genocide. It is, instead, the story of Paul Rusesabagina (Don Cheadle), a hotel manager who risked his own life for 1,200 people by being a good hotel manager. During this genocide, the rest of the world turned its head, looking away, exposing the corporate and systemic sin of so many.

Paul is a quiet man, who is steady in the midst of chaos. He has developed over the years his skills in bribery, flattery, apology, and deception. And these skills come in handy as he cares for a hotel full of strangers.

When the film premiered at Toronto 2004, it was criticized for not being a film about the genocide, an act that in 2004 people were outraged about. Yet, under the direction of Terry George, using the script he co-wrote with Keir Pearson, the film is just right. The film has very potent moments where the reality of genocide moves us. There is the moment when Paul’s wife, a Tutsi, along with other refugees are attacked while in a UN truck. Or the moment when the Hutu army shows up at the hotel’s door demanding the names of all its guests, and Paul is able to distract them long enough to call in a favor. Or the moment when Paul is driving back to the hotel with supplies, and the hotel van drives over bumpy roads. Paul, thinking the driver has gone off the road, makes him stop the van and gets out. The whole road is filled with dead bodies.

The film is Paul’s story about being a hotel manager in midst of genocide, is based on a real story, which is a powerful story of a man who cannot leave behind those who are suffering. Paul, along with his family, are awarded (because that is what it feels like) VISAs to leave the country. As he climbs into the UN truck, he is filled with compassion and in a split second decides to stay at the hotel. And it is a good that he did.

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Everything about Paul is Christ-like. He is compassionate, never thinking twice about taking in refugees. Every action and decision he makes is focused on fulfilling this calling in his life – to care for those whom no one cares for.

Paul: You do not believe you can kill them all?

Colonel: Why not? Why not? We are halfway there already.

The hate seems to be a way of life. It seems so natural. And yet, for Paul, the opposite is true. Love, justice, and compassion is what comes natural. A cameraman, Jack Daglish (Joaquin Phoenix), who is staying at the hotel, meets two young women. One is Hutu and the other is Tutsi. He cannot tell them apart. Neither can Paul. The differences are not a curse, the differences are blessings.

During this season of Lent, let us remember to interrogate our hearts in order to examine how we participate in systemic sin, and strive to be like the hotel manager, welcoming those who are not.

Jesus Cried

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.com“Jesus cried.” (John 11:35)

Someone told me the other day that her husband’s favorite Bible verse was “Jesus cried.” It is known as the shortest verse in the Bible.  It was her husband’s favorite verse because when he was in confirmation everyone was required to memorize a Bible verse of their choosing.  So, he chose, “Jesus cried.”

It’s a little verse and easy to memorize. But it holds a lot of weight. It is one of those rare moments in the Bible when we see Jesus’ humanity. We almost forget that while Jesus was divine, Jesus was also human. And maybe because it makes us uncomfortable to think of Jesus as human. If Jesus cried and got angry, than does that mean Jesus had acne and farted?

Jesus was God and human.

So, why did Jesus cry?

Sunday school has taught us that Jesus cried out of grief for his friend Lazarus. His friend died. We too would cry at the grave of our friend. When death has wrapped itself around us, all we can do is cry.

But some have suggested that Jesus was not only grieving the physical death of his friend, but the spiritual death of his people. They were still waiting for the Messiah to ride in on a grand, white horse and stomp out the evil Romans. But the Messiah who stood before them crying was not about war, but about love.

In a few chapters, John will be telling us how Jesus knelt and washed the feet of his disciples. He was a servant to the end.  Yet, here were God’s people who were spiritually blind (dead?) to what God was up to.

I imagine that there are still moments when Jesus cries. Perhaps when students are being shuttled into cold, school buses because of a bomb threat, Jesus cries. When a student lashes out in rage and harms others at his school, Jesus cries. When leaders chose hurtful words to make a point, Jesus cries. When his word is used to keep people out, Jesus cries. When a pastor publicly criticizes another church on social media, Jesus cries.

Jesus’ tears, however, turns into a shout. He shouts, “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus was the original walking dead. The episode must have been an astonishing site! The stone is rolled away; the stench of death breezes out; the dead man hopples out with the grave clothes still in place. Jesus is the giver of life.

Frances Taylor Gench, one of my New Testament professors from seminary, has written:

If actions speak louder than words, Jesus could have provided no more radical demonstration of his power to give life – both in the present, on this earth, and as a promise that on the last day he will raise the dead.

There is still spiritual death among us today. We could call is spiritual immaturity. We could call it spiritual fatigue. Whatever you call it, Jesus calls us out of it into life.

How will we respond?

Philadelphia (1993)

philadelphia_xlgIn the 1980s, AIDS emerged as the leading killer of young adults. By the mid-1980s, it was the leading cause of death in men ages 25-44. In 1990, over 100,000 deaths were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today we know that AIDS cannot be transmitted by a handshake or a hug, or by breathing the same air as someone who is HIV positive. But in the first decade of the AIDS epidemic, those things were not known. When someone came into contact with AIDS or HIV, they were cautious, as if they were in a leper colony.  This is why Philadelphia is so important. A decade after the disease was identified, Hollywood took a risk in making a big-budget film about the disease.

It is the story of Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) who is a rising lawyer in a major and high profile law firm. The audience is given the privilege of knowing that Beckett is being treated for AIDS. The law firm, however, does not know. The senior partner of the law firm gives Beckett a case that involves the firm’s most important client.

A lesion on his forehead, however, seems to give him away. Though he claims it is a bruise from playing racket ball, it is not long before he is terminated. Beckett is pretty certain that he is being fired because of his sickness.

Beckett is not wrong in his suspicion, and he decides to take a stand. No attorney in town is willing to go up against Wheeler and his law firm. Until Beckett goes to Joe Miller (Denzel Washington). Miller is “the guy from TV” as people throughout the film say as they recognize him from his TV commercials.

The only thing is Miller does not like homosexuals. He admits it his wife. He shows it when he awkwardly reacts to Beckett when he finds out that Beckett has AIDS. But after watching a librarian in the law library strongly suggest that Beckett use one of the private rooms, Miller is filled with compassion. Prejudice is prejudice.

After a costume party at Beckett’s flat, Miller sits down with him to go over questioning for the courtroom drama. In the midst of this, Beckett asks Miller, “Do you ever pray?” Beckett is somewhat taken off guard. He answers that he does, and Beckett asks him what he prays for. Miller replies back that he prayers for his wife, his daughter, for the Phillys to win.

Beckett has opera music playing during this conversation. It is one that Beckett is able to identify with his dying state, which he opening talks about over the music. Miller is visibly uncomfortable. Opera is not his thing. Beckett explains what the opera means to him.

Do you feel the pain, Joe? . . . . . . It’s filled with hope.

There is a change in Miller. He sees Beckett as any other man who loves life and fears death. The film swiftly moves to Miller’s home where he is sitting in the darkness. Miller comes out of that darkness fighting stronger for Beckett, and seeing Beckett more as a friend than a client.

Some have described AIDS as the modern-day leprosy. That may be the chance. In Jesus’ day, people with leprosy had to yell out “Unclean! Unclean!” to announce that they were coming through. It was so that others would avoid them. Yet, Jesus touched the lepers, repeatedly throughout the Gospels, Jesus touches the untouchable.

Philadelphia reminds us that there are untouchables with us still. There are those whom society has deemed unclean. Andrew Beckett was deemed unclean by his law firm and fired for it. Wheeler tells his fellow partners, “He brought AIDS into our offices – into our men’s rooms!” However, Jesus’ actions towards the untouchables of his day was a moment of radical love! As Christians – “little Christs” – we are called to face the prejudices we hold and transform those thoughts into actions of radical love.

He Suffered

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.com“Look, my servant will succeed. He will be exalted and lifted very high. Just as many were appalled by you, he too appeared disfigured, inhuman, his appearance unlike that of mortals. (Isaiah 52:13-14, Common English Bible)

He was born into a broken world full of sin and hate. He grew learning and teaching that hate is not the way. He lived showing the world how love really works.

Because he loved us.

Yet, he was betrayed. He was arrested. He was denied. He was beaten. He was flogged. He was stripped. He was nailed to a cross.

He suffered.

Because he loved us.

Us – who betray and deny him.

Us – who beat others with his words; who flog those who disagree with us; who strip away the rights of the oppressed; who nail others to their crosses instead of picking up our own.

He suffered.

Because he loved us.

Even though we do not always love.

We chose hate over love. We chose malice words instead of words of respect.  We chose to ignore rather than to participate.

His generous act of sacrificial love was an act of justice.  He laid down his life so that we – who are broken and full of sin – may have eternal life.

And, yet, we have been shown love and justice, we continue to neglect love and abuse justice.

We turn the other cheek to avoid the piercing glare of the poor and the hungry; to turn away from the ringing of the hammer of systemic injustice; to demand forgiveness rather than to forgive.

He loves us.

Loving God, we give you thanks for your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lived and died so that we may have life. May your Holy Spirit dwell in us, around us, and through us as we strive to live this life we have been given as Christ lived his, with love and justice for all. Amen.

Guest Post: Lost in Suffering

by Erin Davidson 

Read Isaiah 50:4-9a.

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.comObedient, loyal and steadfast, they’re all big, meaningful words, words that Jesus embodies.  They’re words for us as humans to strive to live and grow into.  As we move through Lent, we experience Jesus’ journey to the cross.  It wasn’t a pleasant one and no matter how much God could have told him about what would happen, Jesus, as a human, wouldn’t have been fully prepared.  Yet throughout this journey of suffering, Jesus remains obedient, loyal and steadfast.  Isaiah writes in this passage about a suffering servant, whether we interpret this servant as the children of Israel waiting to be delivered, or Jesus towards the end of his life, it’s a journey of obedience and God’s steadfastness.

In Isaiah 50:1-3 God essentially asks rhetorically, “Did you really think I have forgotten you?  Did you really think that I’m unable or unwilling to deliver you from this?”  To which God then responds in verses 4-9 that a Savior will come.  Not only will this Savior come but God details some of the suffering he will have to endure.  Throughout it all, this Savior is obedient and loyal to God because he knows God will stay with him the entire time.

Sometimes we get lost in our own “suffering,” forgetting that God is always present with us on our journey.  I cannot imagine being tasked with the role that Jesus had; I also cannot imagine being such a faithful disciple.  However, Isaiah reminds me that God prepares disciples, giving us a “well-instructed tongue” to know the words to use, open ears to listen to those around us.  God equips us with everything needed for the journey ahead and in turn, we must listen and follow.

This year as you read through the stories of Lent, look for examples of obedience, loyalty, and steadfastness. Examine the characters of the story, the words they use, or when they don’t talk. Use their stories to guide how we live our lives as disciples.

Erin B. Davidson is a full time social worker and part time Day Camp Director at Camp Hanover in Mechanicsville, VA.

Unbind

Read Romans 8:6-11.

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.comLent is a season of self-reflection. A season of contemplation. It is the Henri Nouwen and Parker Palmer kind of stuff where we examine our hearts and our souls. John Wesley would ask, “How is it with your soul?” Lent is the time when we reflect on that question. We make conscious decisions to move away from the old life and embrace a new life.

Here in Romans 8, Paul discusses living by the flesh and living by the Spirit. There have been many words spoken and written about what Paul means by the “flesh.” Biblical scholar David Bartlett puts it simply, “Life in the flesh is the life of bondage to sin.” Where, on the other hand, life in the Spirit is “to belong to God in Jesus Christ.”

How are you living your life? In the flesh, bonded by sin? Or in the Spirit, belonging to God?

When Jesus shouts for Lazarus to come out of the tomb, he is calling for Lazarus to come unbound and be set free. When we live in the Spirit, we are living in freedom. But when we are living by the flesh, we are bound in grave clothes and limited to the dark walls of a tomb.

I invite you today to reflect on how you are bound. Ask the question, “How is it with your soul?” Open yourselves to God who calls forth life.

Guest Post: Jesus Grieved

by Rev. Doug Sasser

Read John 11:1-45.

Lent Ponderings - jasoncstanley.comWhen I was three, my mother died in an automobile accident.  My father was a college president at the time, and the chairman of his board of directors advised him to get remarried as soon as possible, maintaining that the college needed a first lady and I needed a mother.  Within a year of my mother’s death, my father began courting a woman he would soon marry.  This marriage was not harmonious and I recall frequently hearing them arguing with each other.  After seven years, their marriage ended in divorce.

Although many factors led to divorce, my father’s decision to get remarried so soon after being widowed may not have been healthy for him and his family.  He was given very bad advice by his board chair.  Psychologists agree grief involves a long emotional process.  We must be able to sit with our pain and allow ourselves to heal slowly over time.  When we try to pretend our grieving is done by starting a new relationship, this typically leads to emotional turmoil later.

Once, when I lost a loved one, my friends at church said to me, “This is probably not painful for you because of your faith in God.”  The opposite is true.  God made us and understands what goes on inside of us when we grieve.

The Jews understood no one should have to grieve alone.  Others from the community surrounded Mary as she grieved the death of her brother Lazarus.  Our text describes how the comforters all accompanied Mary as she went outside of the house to greet Jesus.  Some of those gathered noticed Jesus weeping and acknowledged how much he loved this family.  Jesus cries with them just as those who surrounded Mary had.

Others expect Jesus to offer a quick fix by saying, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”  Martha takes on an accusatory tone when she says to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  We may ask ourselves why the Son of God stood around blubbering instead of raising Lazarus on the spot.  Elsewhere in the scriptures Jesus healed people without even being physically present.

I believe Jesus responded the way he did because he understood the grieving process.  Lazarus is not resurrected in this passage; he is resuscitated.  He will die again someday.  His family shall grieve his loss for longer than three days.  Jesus understood grief is painful and it takes time.  Through the miracle of the incarnation God became flesh in the form of Jesus Christ.  Jesus took on humanity in all of its intricacies.  He knew what it meant to feel pain, sorrow and grief.  Jesus is showing Lazarus’ family how to grieve.

During the season of Lent this is especially evident to us.  Through the scriptures we make the trek down the mountain with Jesus and the three disciples on Transfiguration Sunday.  Then we make the journey with Jesus and the disciples as they travel to Jerusalem.  Along the way we stop as Jesus cries over the city of Jerusalem.  Tension builds as Jesus confronts his enemies after turning over the tables of the money changers in the Temple.  A bittersweet mood hangs over Jesus and the disciples during the Last Supper.  Jesus is deserted in the garden of Gethsemane when those who vowed to defend him to the death an hour earlier run under the cover of darkness.  While on the cross Jesus expresses the ultimate feelings of rejection when he confesses feeling abandoned by God.  Even after Jesus died on the cross the scripture describes how some disciples hide behind locked doors for fear of Jesus’ enemies.  Other disciples expressed their bewilderment over the death of Jesus with a “stranger” they met on the road to Emmaus.

If we are too quick to rush past the sadness of Holy Week and jump to the empty tomb we are not being true to the witness of the scripture.  Also we are not being true to ourselves as humans.  We cannot appreciate the joy and amazement of Easter morning if we have not experienced the events of Holy Week.  Perhaps this is what Jesus was trying to teach Mary and Martha.  Before new life can be celebrated, mourning must occur.  Join those who surrounded Mary in this text.  Allow yourself to grieve, feel pain and cry.  When we allow ourselves space and time to feel pain, we can properly heal.  Jesus Christ, who sits with us and cries with us, is also the one who will raise us to new life.

Rev. Doug Sasser serves the Franklin Charge on the Danville District of the Virginia United Methodist Church. 

It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown (1974)

Easter BeagleThe 12th animated television special, It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, first aired on April 9, 1974 on CBS.  In this special, Charlie Brown and the gang are preparing for Easter. Peppermint Patty is teaching Marcie how to dye Easter Eggs. Poor Marcie can’t figure how to prepare the eggs to be dyed though. Sally wants new shoes for Easter Sunday. Lucy is preoccupied with getting gifts and hiding eggs.

And, then there is Linus. Linus tells them they are worried too much. None of that stuff matters, because the Easter Beagle is going to bring them Easter eggs. The Easter Beagle is right up there with the Great Pumpkin. The other children try their best to ignore or tolerant Linus’ belief in the Easter Beagle.

Like the Christmas special before it, the Easter special has a message against commercialism. As the children walk into the department store to get their Easter supplies, the store is decorated with Christmas trees and other Christmas items. Banners hang declaring how many days are left before Christmas. Sally cries out, “It’s Easter! And they have Christmas decorations out!?!”

The point is clear. Like Christmas, Easter is not about buying, buying, buying. Easter is about so much more than that. It is about the One who gave life so that we may have new life.

There has been some criticism that this special did have the religious message like its Christmas counter part. If by religious message they are referring to Linus reading from the Bible, than no, there is none of that in this one.

But there are allusions to the Gospel.

In the opening scene as Lucy listens to Schroeder play his toy piano, she talks about Easter being a time of getting gifts. Schroeder corrects her, “It’s a time of renewal,” and later, “All you think about is gimme, gimme, gimme, get, get, get.”

When the kids get to Easter Sunday, they are all sitting around waiting for something special to happen. Peppermint Patty says to Marcie, “You look forward to feeling real happy and something happens to spoil it.” Can you think of better words to describe what those who witnessed the crucifixion must have felt?

Sally is wondering where the Easter Beagle (Christ?) is. Charlie Brown expresses feelings of being alone. Sally tells Linus that he has made a fool out of her. Everyone seems to be sad or confused. Not unlike those who experienced the first Easter morning. But then in the distance a figure emerges. It is the Easter Beagle (of course, it is just Snoopy.) Snoopy dances around giving out Easter eggs that he picked up after Lucy hid them (Lucy: “He gave me my own egg!”).

Ten weeks later, the Easter experience is still hanging around. Lucy is still upset at Snoopy for pretending to be the Easter Beagle and for handing out the eggs that she hid. She goes to Snoopy with the intent of fighting him. Snoopy leans in and kisses her. She responses, “Awww, the Easter Beagle.” Even Lucy came around.

PeanutsEaster02There may not have been any quoting of scripture, but there are things held in common between the first Easter and this Charlie Brown Easter. The feelings of loneliness, of being scared, confused, and uncertain all must have been feelings that the disciples and others experienced. The surprise and awe that followed when Jesus appeared. There were those like Lucy who did not believe until they experienced the grace-filled love of Christ themselves.

Lent reminds us of the tension between looking forward to being happy and the reality of loneliness and despair. The promise of Easter is the gift of resurrection; new life; renewal. In the midst of the darkness of loneliness and despair, joy comes in the morning.