The First Day

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. (Luke 24:1)

the first day:
walking with heavy loads and burdened hearts
to the place His breathless body lay.
every hour seemed so still
since that dark day.

but now, the first day:
their hesitating procession to the tomb
finds the place, but not Him;
and aching emptiness
meets anger’s anxiety.

yet, on the first day
two men send shivers of loud light
mingled with a message:
‘He’s alive like a new day’s dawning!’
and they remember His words.

this first day is the third day
that sends the dark day running.

[This is the seventh in a group of original poems composed for Holy Week.]

Joseph’s Offering

Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus….With Pilate’s permission he came and took the body away. (John 19:38)

as the crowd dispersed
i came to honor Him.
perhaps it was too late…
but the cost was real for me,
as others from the Sanhedrin
turned their dark looks upon me.
our entourage gathered His limp form
with painful effort from the tree
and wrapped it with care.

standing there, at the Executioner’s workplace,
i couldn’t help but think that
He deserved more than this;
that my present actions were a feeble attempt
to cover my earlier inaction.

Jesus, wrapped in linen and death’s shadow,
seemed like a gift Jerusalem
was not worthy to hold.
so we took Him to the tomb,
with the women following close,
and placed Him gently within
for safe-keeping until the day of the Lord.
but my heart ached within me.

[This is the sixth in a group of original poems composed for Holy Week.]

Witnesses to Hope

Over the past couple of years, I have participated in the Gospel Life blog hosted by the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College.

In my post there today I write about the need for us as Christians to become witnesses to hope. This post came out of a lot of my own conversations and reflections upon the present moment in our world and what it looks like to be a voice and presence of hope in the time in which we live. As hopelessness rises up, we must also rise up with hopefulness.

This past year has brought wave after wave of discouraging news. Many people I encounter feel overwhelmed by increasing political incoherence, racial injustice, and global chaos, not to mention their own personal challenges. Despair rises up around us like hunger in the stomach of a famine-wracked child. If I could pick one word to encapsulate the current tone of our society it would be hopelessness.

As followers of Jesus we are called to be people of hope, and this calling is even more important in light of the entangling hopelessness of our day. In fact, our witness as Christians at this present hour will remain inadequate if we do not recapture the hope inherent in the gospel…

[Continue reading the article here.]

Unshackled: Joy Beyond Circumstances

As we begin the new year, we also begin a new series this coming weekend at Eastbrook Church entitled “Unshackled: Joy Beyond Circumstances.” In a world at odds with itself, how do followers of Christ live with irrepressible joy in God? In this six-week series we will journey through the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians to develop a theology of joy. We want to begin the year with the fullness of God’s joy in Jesus Christ.

In preparing for this series I have been reminded of how many well-loved verses are found in Philippians. Here are a few:

  • “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6).
  • “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21).
  • the hymn to Christ in 2:6-11
  • “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you” (2:12-13).
  • “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (2:15-16).
  • “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ” (3:7).
  • “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (3:12).
  • “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (4:4).

It is that last verse which serves as a resounding theme of the letter of Philippians. Paul, writing this letter while imprisoned, illustrates through his own life that joy can exist regardless of our circumstances. Join us for this journey to joy as we begin 2018!

Mercy

As we continued our journey with the Psalms of Ascent, “Ascend,” this past weekend at Eastbrook, I opened up Psalm 130 for us. I explored the mercy of God as part of our spiritual journey with God in terms of prayer, forgiveness, waiting, and hope. In the midst of that I brought in the story of Jonah, illuminating parallel verses in Ephesians and Jude, an excerpt from Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, and a reflection on the life of Viktor Frankl.

You can watch the message and follow along with the sermon outline below. You can access the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast. We also have a reading plan for this series, which you can participate with here.

 

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