Resurrecting life

Mark Rothko
Red, Orange, Tan and Purple, 1954
Oil on canvas
84 1/2 x 68 1/2 inches (214.5 x 174 cm)
Private collection
©1999 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

For Sunday, April 22, 2012
Third Sunday of Easter

Sometimes I like to focus on one of the week’s readings but this week I’m offering some comments on each of them. A way to tie these all together might be under the title “Resurrecting life”. If we are honest with ourselves, our lives are a mess, until Jesus appears.

Psalm 4 (True prosperity?)
Where will we find true prosperity? The temptation for those of us living in material abundance is to base our lives on our ability to provide for ourselves. Yet to live this way dishonors God. God asks, “How long … will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?” It is a delusion to think we can captain our own ships. We may at times experience the blessings of material prosperity but what we need more than anything is spiritual prosperity. As the Psalmist puts it, “You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

Luke 24:36b-40 (Jesus as the key to the Scriptures)
Jesus “opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” What was the main point he wanted to convey? That all the Scriptures, from the Law to the Prophets to the Psalms pointed toward him as the pinnacle of God’s revelation to Man. The Scriptures teach that a Son of Man would come and then die and that through his death forgiveness of sins would be available to every nation on earth. Sin has alienated us from God. The forgiveness made possible by Christ’s death on the cross can redeem and restore us. Have you been redeemed? Are you being restored? The offer is right in front of you.

Acts 3:12-19 (Repent and repent)
This passage gets us over this week’s “so what” hump (a favorite phrase of Stuart Briscoe’s). “Repent, therefore, and turn to God so that your sins might be wiped out.” We could understand this both in terms of repenting for the first time (the big R), and repenting on an ongoing basis for our subsequent sins (the little ‘R’). True believers are those who have turned to God and still do.

1 John 3:1-7 (the joy of being children of God)
This is one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture. “… that we should be called children of God, and this is what we are!” As a result of a traumatic childhood my internal tape too often says, “You aren’t doing enough.”. Yet God has given me a new tape that says, “You are now a child of God, so relax and rejoice!” This brings us full circle back to the end of Psalm 4, our first reading: “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone are my safety.

Which of this week’s readings is speaking to you most powerfully and why?

Christ is risen!

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