Easter is new

eastereggsOne of the things my pastors, and pastors before them, have often said is that you should be different on Good Friday than you were on Ash Wednesday. It’s not always easy to do that. The texts tend to be SO familiar that one has a tendency to “mail it in,” theologically. “Oh, yeah, that scripture; I know EXACTLY what that means.” I think, remarkably, that I did not “mail it in” this Lent.

Frankly, I’ve been puzzled by people who look at Scripture as though God handed it down in 17th century English. It was helpful that our pastors have been doing sermons on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5), getting us to look at things differently. Verse 6 is: “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” But the Greek word used for “justice” ALSO means “righteousness”. That’s a very different emphasis, and one can use one or the other, and come to different conclusions; alternatively, one can use BOTH terms and see it yet another way.

I used to see the story of the poor widow in Mark 12 putting in her last two coins as merely as a sign of her fidelity to her faith. But after having read Jesus for President, I can’t help but wonder if the exploitative temple system that drains the woman’s ability to care for herself ticked off Jesus so much that he ends up driving out the money lenders in the previous chapter.

Here’s hoping that, regardless of your theology, that this is a time for looking at the familiar in a new, and possibly challenging, way.

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4 thoughts on “Easter is new”

  1. Our village church is not an inspiring place to be – this saddens me in many ways. This morning I really felt uplifted however – the service was on Radio 4. I do need to sort something out – I miss a church.

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  2. The Greek word used in Mt. 5:6 is dikaiosune. In 5:20 Jesus says unless the dikaiosune of his disciples is greater than that (dikaiosune) of the scribes and Pharisees, they will not be part of his kingdom. In 6:1 Jesus warns his disciples (again) that their dikaiosune should not be done before others in order to be seen (and praised) by them. This self-glorifying by means of (the dikaiosune) of giving alms is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues (where the scribes and Pharisees predominate) (6:2). In contrast, disciples should give alms secretly (6:3-4).

    Similarly, in Mk. 12, Jesus warns of the scribes (the teachers and enforcers of the law in the synagogues), who love places of honor and who “devour” widows’ houses (12:38-40). Then he contrasts the poor widow with the rich who put large sums into the (temple) treasury (sums that partly came from devouring widows’ houses) (12:41-44).

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  3. I didn’t go to church today — first Easter in years I haven’t. And I don’t think I’ve attended a service since Christmas, and only a couple before that since last summer. My faith, which has never been strong to begin with, is barely flickering right now. I don’t know what to make of that.

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