Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Resurrection Hope: What Easter Means for the Everyday-Life of Christians

Sunday, April 24th, 2011 by Antipas Harris

John 11:25a records Jesus saying, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  In a time of wars, terror threats, various earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis, political unrest and social mayhem, it is imperative that preachers emphasize the existential hope extended to humankind in Christ’s resurrection. Year after year, Easter sermons have de-emphasized the bloody cross and the heinous events that constitute the celebration of “Good Friday.” But we must not cater to the romantic end of the story without giving sufficient gaze into the painful process prior to Easter. The actual events prior to Easter impact the hope we find in Easter. Over the anuls of Hebrew history, Jews have celebrated “Passover.” Passover emphasizes the blood of the lamb that gives hope to Israel in the middle of a night of death. Passover in the first century was when Jesus was crucified.

That Passover, moreover, Jesus became the bloody Lamb. He experienced a night of merciless beatings, an unfair trial, a struggle to carry the burden of the cross up Calvary’s hill, a torture of nails, thorns and a piercing in the side. Easter is triumph through death, hell and the grave. Easter is triumph through torture, injustice, pain and agony. Easter, therefore, is life breaking through death, triumphing pain and agony. Easter is victory in spite of oppression. Easter is victory through the cross.

Liberation theologian and archbishop Paulo Evaristo Arns’s article “Easter and the Hope of Victory” sheds light on the existential implications of Easter. Yet, he does not go far enough into the practical dynamics worth exploring.  He writes, “A people liberated from bondage were to remember that God saw their misery and descended to free them in order to give them the possibility of living another social model based upon equality, justice and solidarity. Easter is the memory of the liberating transit of God who of a slave people made a free and equal people.” As we observe our times, watch the news and engage ministry to the broken, one admits that even in the “land of the free and home of the braves” people are not always free. People, here, are not always brave. Over the past 10 years events in our history such as 9/11, other terror attempts, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and oil spills (to name a few) have challenged our freedom and cast a shadow of fear over our former bravery.

A few days ago and in my neighborhood, a young man attempted to rob the bank in the broad daylight. The police caught him. Yet, out of fear for his own life, the police shot the robber and landed him in the hospital. The situation impacted our community such that people are more protective. Unlike the late eighties/early nineties in Manchester, Georgia, I am careful to lock my car and house doors — even in the middle of the day. Things have changed! We seem to fear each other more than we help each other. Read the rest of this entry »

The Pain of Premature Death

Sunday, December 12th, 2010 by Diane Chandler

Elizabeth Edwards (1949-2010)

Over this past week, two public figures died prematurely.  One had cancer.  The other committed suicide.  Both had to deal with a sense of personal and public shame because of a family member’s misdeeds.

This past Tuesday, December 7th, Elizabeth Edwards passed away one day after her doctors discontinued her cancer treatments. Elizabeth was the ex-wife of John Edwards, former senator of North Carolina, 2004 vice-presidential nominee, and 2008 presidential contender. We know Elizabeth for her courageous battle with breast cancer throughout her husband’s campaigns, her public struggle with her husband’s infidelity and illegitimate child, her advocacy of health issues, and her commitment to her children. At 61 years old, she leaves behind three children, ages 28, 12, and 10. 

Yesterday, December 11th, Mark Madoff, 46-year old son of convicted financier Bernie Madoff, took his own life in his Manhattan apartment, while his 2-year old son slept nearby.  The date marked the two year anniversary of when Mark and his brother went to the authorities after their father confessed to the two decade-long Ponzi scheme.  Mark had e-mailed his wife while she vacationed in Florida with their 4-year old daughter, with a parting message and asking that someone check in on their son.  

Both Edwards and Madoff dealt very differently with a deep and agonizing sense of personal and public shame.  For Edwards, she persevered, holding her head up high and her children together.  For Mark Madoff, he succumbed to shame in bearing the family name associated with his father’s dastardly misdeeds, the endless judgment by association, ongoing lawsuits, and unemployment. 

I grieve the loss of both of their lives. 

C.S. Lewis, Christian apologist & writer

When Christian apologist and author C. S. Lewis lost his wife, Joy Davidman, to bone cancer, he wrote a journal that poignantly dealt with the grief.  This was later published in 1961 as the book A Grief Observed.  His heart wrenching  struggle regarding his deep loss reveals that we can be honest with God about our struggles, uncertainties, anger, and pain.  Can you imagine calling God “a Cosmic Sadist”?  Lewis did.

How do we deal with questions related to personal and family identity, forgiveness, freedom, and issues of life and death?  How does the message of Jesus Christ offer hope in the midst of deep despair, guilt, pain, and loss?  

What are your experiences in ministering and/or receiving the love of God during such times?

Musings on My Lottery Ticket

Saturday, September 4th, 2010 by Marc Santom

As I write this, I’m looking at the “lottery ticket” lying next to my laptop. It’s not an actual lottery ticket, mind you, but rather a scratch & win ticket from The Great Grocery Giveaway. Some local grocery stores give them out to customers at the checkout line. For some reason, the checkout gal at Food Lion handed me a stack of 47 of them the other day. So I brought the stack home, handed my kids a few coins and ordered them to start stratchin’ so we could start winnin’.

The goal of the scratcher is to pick three of the nine circles to scratch off—and if all three match, you get whatever is revealed in the prize box at the bottom. After my kids unsuccessfully scratched through half the stack, I grabbed one and, using my fingernail, scratched off three circles really fast and, lo and behold, all three matched! My kids thought I was superman and immediately exclaimed, “Daddy, scratch the prize box to see if we’re rich!” All of a sudden, the possibility of winning up to $250,000 warmed my soul and placed a spark in my eye. I was experiencing hope for a better life as I thought, “I could be rich and things could get real good real fast.” Amid the brewing excitement in my mind, however, I paused long enough to observe what was going in within me…

Read the rest of this entry »

The Power and Simplicity of Personal Story

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010 by Diane Chandler

Just before receiving Christ into my heart as Lord and Savior, I was traveling around the U.S. visiting friends and family. In Houston while visiting my uncle, I happened to meet one of his neighbors, who was a passionate follower of Jesus Christ.  

What I most appreciated during our times together was her sharing of how she awakened to the love of God for her personally and the amazing work of God’s grace in her life.  She was forever transformed.  Her personal story attracted me to Jesus.  It was clear that Jesus’ had imprinted her spirit with His.

The apostle, Paul, knew something of this kind of grace and the transformational power of God.  At the conclusion of his third missionary journey and upon returning to Jerusalem, Paul encountered such opposition that he was dragged out of the temple and beaten. Just before soldiers took him to a barracks, Paul turned to his opponents and shared – of all things – his story of how Jesus sequestered him on the road to Damascus (Acts 22:1-21).

Later when Paul appeared before King Agrippa, you would think that he would have waxed eloquent in his own defense.  But no ~ he again conveys the simplicity of his story, recounting how God appeared to him on the Damascus Road and appointed him as a servant and witness (Acts 26:12-19).  He then declared to King Agrippa, “I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven (vs. 19).

In his book Experiences of God, German systematic theologian Jürgen Moltmann (born 1926) addressed this question in the introductory chapter:  “Why Am I a Christian?” To answer the question, one would think he would present a convincing theological treatise reflecting his biblical brilliance.  But no!  He shares his personal story of how Christ progressively drew him to Himself. This prolific thinker and scholar, who has impacted the theological world like few others in the 20th-21st centuries, recalls his salvation story.  And his theology was greatly impacted by his personal narrative, particularly his theology of hope. His book In the End – The Beginning: The Life of Hope offers another glimpse of the dramatic events leading up to his salvation. Read the rest of this entry »