Sealed and Waiting …


During my recent trip I took this photo of the lock on the door that opens to the Holy Sepulchre Church.  The door is massive and old and I have always been drawn to it.  The age and the light and shadow drew me to it once again.

During this time of pandemic, the door to the Holy Sepulcher has been sealed.  No one is allowed in.  People have made there way to the door and prayed, but no one is allowed in.  It seems strange that a place revered by so many as the place of the Golgotha and the Tomb would be shuttered.  But it isn’t without precedence …

So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day.  Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”

 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.   Matthew 27:62-66

As we wait on this Holy Saturday, my prayer is that the door to our hearts … the door to our lives … would be open.  Open to receiving the Good News of Easter … and open to living our faith and loving others with doors open and barriers removed.




Getting Ready

49126-house-cleaning-11514On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’”  So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.   Matthew 26:17-19 NIV

Today has been a whirlwind of activity at the church for me.  A very different Maundy Thursday from the past.

There was no Sanctuary to prepare … no alter decorations … no last minute music details.

No one but me.  I have spent the day recording, editing, uploading all the services for this Holy Week.  The work is done and now we wait to celebrate and remember together … virtually.

I have been thinking of the Passion narratives and a comment made this week in an online Bible Study I lead.  This week is filled with ritual and routine.  Anticipation and remembering.

The same was true for Jesus.  I hadn’t thought much about the idea that Jesus has already planned everything.  And when it came time there was Jesus …

fgdhkjWhen evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.  Mt 26:17-30 NIV

Perhaps our efforts are easier on a day like this … in a time like this … because we do our work in advance … knowing that Jesus will show up tonight as we gather around the virtual table already set and waiting for us to partake.

We also know that the tomb will be empty come Sunday and we will celebrate the hope of resurrection.

Maybe if we could keep the anticipation of Easter alive during the week, it would change how we prepare each and every week for Worship.

The anticipated encounter with the Risen Savior tends to change how you act.

Oh and that thing from Bible Study?

Well we were studying Leviticus – I know exciting stuff?!

As we looked at all the rituals and practices outlined in the book, I asked, “What does ritual mean to us today?”

I expected comments about how the rituals of this week would be missed, etc, etc

And then from the blank square (voice only on a Zoom Meeting) came a profound observation:

“I’ve always thought of ritual as preparation for worship.  I wonder if we have lost our love of ritual in a culture of instant gratification?”


Perhaps we are getting a reset on our thinking.

Taking the time to prepare.

More family meals – less microwave specials.

More intentional planning of our time … and our worship.

May we discover the ritual of preparing … and may we take the time to be prepared for all the activities of Easter … and our worship.

Did you hear the one about the sheep?


The story of the lost sheep

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:1-7 NIV

This is a story worth telling over and over again, but I think in this season it has a new meaning. I’ve been reviewing the stories (parables) of Jesus from the perspective of Easter looking back. That’s has provided an interesting view for many of Jesus’ stories, but this story has a particular new context as we approach Easter 2020.

So often this story is told as a means to encourage the church (the 99) to seek after the lost (the one). And that is a great way to look at this story … leave the safety of your church walls and search after those in need of a shepherd. But we are already outside of the church this year.

The story is also told so that the lost (the one) might know that God is searching for them.

Again I love that message, but the lost (the one) have to be around to hear it.

And it is that idea that has me rethinking this entire story. You see, suddenly the greater church has had to take their message beyond their walls. Overnight it seems the church has discovered that technology has evolved past the 1900s. The church has discovered online meetings, online streaming, cell phones, texting, and shockingly THE INTERNET!

All kidding aside, this rush to connect with people has created an interesting outcome.

More people are connecting to the messages of the church than ever before.

People that rarely entered the doors of our buildings are connecting through technology.

The message of God’s love is reaching more people today than a month ago.

And that is a really good thing! But it also reveals a problem. Have you stopped to ask


Why are more people connecting to the church?

The easy answer is there are no atheists in a foxhole,

but I really don’t think that is entirely what is happening here. This is something more!

I truly believe that for the first time across our culture, people are able to connect with church without having to deal directly with God’s people. Let me repeat that ….

people are able to connect with church

without having to deal directly with God’s people.

Is it possible that the 99 in the story Jesus told drove away the one or at least kept the one from having a safe place amidst the 99?

I don’t have an answer yet, but I am hopeful that this time away from the church building will cause us to ask, what practices can we leave behind so that those that found us through technology outside of our buildings will also find their way into the community that gathers inside a building.

And with that thought, may God forgive us for the things we have done that kept the ONEs from gathering in the safety of our Churches. Give us the heart and eyes of The Good Shepherd to seek and bring home the ONEs. And may we find comfort in the knowledge that we have all been that ONE at some point in our lives.