April 11th, 2020 Daily Devotional

Today’s scripture reading from our Lenten devotional is from Mark

15:33-46:

“33When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the

afternoon. 34At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi,

lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you

forsaken me?’ 35When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen,

he is calling for Elijah.’ 36And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine,

put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see

whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ 37Then Jesus gave a loud cry

and breathed his last. 38And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from

top to bottom. 39Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that

in this way he breathed his last, he said, ‘Truly this man was God’s Son!’

40There were also women looking on from a distance; among them were

Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses,

and Salome. 41These used to follow him and provided for him when he

was in Galilee; and there were many other women who had come up with

him to Jerusalem. 42When evening had come, and since it was the day of

Preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, 43Joseph of Arimathea, a

respected member of the council, who was also himself waiting expectantly

for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for the body of

Jesus.44Then Pilate wondered if he were already dead; and summoning

the centurion, he asked him whether he had been dead for some

time.45When he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted

the body to Joseph. 46Then Joseph bought a linen cloth, and taking down

the body, wrapped it in the linen cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been

hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.”


I usually think of resurrection as something that just happens. But in her

reflection on this passage, Rev. Rae Chen Huang challenges my thinking

and says: “Resurrection is a process. Resurrection is something we plan

and prepare for. Resurrection is something we must create and build.

Resurrection is something that happens one step at a time. Holy Saturday

is the beginning of resurrection.”


Today I’m thinking that part of our planning and preparing for resurrection is

active opposition to discrimination, prejudice, and hate. We Christians have

some owning up to do in this regard. For example, a lot of damage has

been done by misuse of the Good Friday readings from the gospel of John,

which several times reference and cast blame on “the Jews.” As I’ve

preached before, throughout history texts like these have been distorted

and used to justify anti-Semitic thought and acts. Understanding the

context in which the scriptures were written is critical: John’s gospel was

written at a time at least 40 years after the death of Jesus, and later

conflicts likely shaped the gospel writer’s characterization of the earlier

events around Jesus’ death. We should read these as references to the

opponents of Jesus, not to the Jewish people; the disciples and followers of

Jesus, just like Jesus, of course, were Jews. (Scholars suggest that a more

contextual translation might be to say “the authorities.”) But nevertheless,

we need to confront and wrestle honestly with the way our writings suggest

these judgments. As Christians, we are responsible for being clear that any

use of the Gospel by Christians to justify anti-Semitism is a perversion of

who Jesus was and what he taught.


We’re likewise responsible in this moment for opposing the bigotry that

implies any nationality is responsible for the coronavirus. We’re responsible

for opposing the differential treatment in health care that too often is based

on race or socioeconomic status. We’re responsible for opposing systems

that make people of color afraid of wearing protective masks in public.

We’re responsible for the church’s failure to care for people impacted by

past health epidemics because of who they loved.


Rev. Rae Chen Huang has provoked me to ponder resurrection as

“something we must create and build.” May this Holy Saturday also be “the

beginning of resurrection” for the Church and its bold witness.

Let us share in the prayer from our devotional:

“Ever-loving God, most days we are living in a season of Holy Saturday.

Our Messiah has died, and like Jesus, we feel like we’ve been forsaken,

and we don’t know what’s next. Remind us that resurrection happens one

step at a time. Inspire us to join as co-creators in building the beloved

community. Empower us to prepare for resurrection; not only for ourselves,

but so that all may experience new life. Amen.”


Pastor Kate

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