Thursday, April 28, 2016

Devotion - Thursday, April 28

As this academic year comes to an end, I found myself reading from the beginning of Paul's second letter to the church of the Thessalonians.  What he says to them, about them, I would say to and about you.  These words will be my prayer for you till we resume our shared journey in August.

Paul writes: "We are bound to give thanks to God always for you, our sisters and brothers, as is fitting, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing."

I don't really understand how faith "grows."  I have always understand faith as something that happens or doesn't.  But I set that thought aside for another day.  This day what I pray is that the growth I have seen in your in this year will continue into the summer and beyond.  I pray that you will become more and more aware of the presence of God in  your life and that you will grow in your ability to speak of that presence.

And do love one another.  Love as Jesus loves.  Do not limit your love to a life-partner or a few siblings, but love the sojourner and the needy.  Love the lost and the confused.  May your love for neighbor constantly increase.

Do be attentive to your spirit over the summer.  Read your bible; say your prayers.  Find opportunities to engage in spiritual conversations.  And rest assured that you will be in my prayers and the prayers at UniLu.

Pastor Chris

PS.  This is the last offering till August.  There has been talk in Faith Formation about a weekly devotion - we are still working on that. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Devotion - Wednesday, April 27

One of your classmates admitted at last night's dinner that she had spent 5 hours yesterday watching an old, somewhat questionable series on Netflix.  "5 hours!"

This morning I read words from John Wesley in which he celebrated a life lived at a slower, sane pace.  He writes, "Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry."  He speaks of maintaining a "perfect calmness of spirit."

These are traits difficult to find, during exam week.  But they need to be discovered.  We need to hear the sheepish confession of a friend who could have been reading or studying but chose instead to get lost in an idle TV Series.

Your exams and final projects are of tremendous importance.  Study, prepare, do well.  But do not allow yourself to lose your identity and do not sacrifice the peace of Christ which has taken root in your soul.

This is a reservoir to which you can turn time and time again.  This is a resource which will instruct you as to your true value and your precious identity.

Maybe you shouldn't spend 5 hours in front of the TV, but do take 5 minutes, or 15.  Go for a walk, or get a cup of coffee with a friend.  Read your bible.  Say your prayers.  Recapture the joy of being a loved child of God.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Devotion - Tuesday, April 26

I read this morning from Matthew 6.  It is the portion of Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" where he instructs us on how to pray.  What he offers is what we have come to refer to as The Lord's Prayer.

In the Monday morning "Catechism Revisited" class, we talked about this prayer and the significance of each of its petitions.  Would that we had enough time here to repeat the whole of those conversations!  What remained with me this morning were thoughts about the petition which reads "give us this day our daily bread."

The Small Catechism reminds us that God is the one who provides for us.  We are too quick to think of ourselves as independent or self-made.  It is from God's hand that all things come to us.  Bread (food) is but one example.  The Catechism encourages us to also see God as the provider of home and family, of the means of making a living, clothing and good health.

It is a great habit to pause before each meal and offer a prayer of thanksgiving that God has "given us this day our daily bread."  It would also be a good habit to stop and offer a similar prayer when we turn on our laptop, or when we turn the key in our car, or when we slip into our shoes.  As the Small Catechism reminds us, "daily bread" is a reference to all the things we need for life and living.

There are (unfortunately) too many jokes about praying during this week of final exams.  The jokes are meant to suggest that we should not abandon our studying habits and expect God to bestow upon us good grades.  But it would be appropriate to offer prayers to God, as you study and as you take those exams.  I would encourage you to shy away from asking God to help you get a better grade than you have earned, but you could give thanks for the "daily bread" which is a mind sharp and keen and capable of learning.  You could thank God for the "daily bread" which is the opportunity itself to study and learn and search for ways in which you can use what has been given you in service to others.

"Give us this day, our daily bread," and may that bread strengthen us for the future that you have set before us.  Amen.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sermon - 5th Sunday of Easter

John 13:31-35                                                                                              

                            Love One Another

Something happens in today’s Gospel reading which is sort of off-stage.  It is evidenced by the opening line, but I wonder if all of us caught the significance.  If you have your bible, you are more likely to be aware of the preceding events.  All of which are important in understanding what is going on in these few short verses. 

Look again at verse 31, the first of our appointed lessons for today.  It reads, “When he had gone out….”  Who is the “he” in that verse?  Judas.  Judas has gone out.  Judas has gone out to link up with the Temple Guards who will shortly come to the place where Jesus is praying in order to arrest Jesus. 

Judas is the one who has left the room.  In the verses just prior to those read today, Jesus allows some of those at dinner to know that Judas was about to betray him.  When they ask, “Who will do this thing?”  Jesus says it is “the one to whom I give this piece of bread.”  He dips it in the wine, gives it to Judas.  Jesus then tells Judas, “Do quickly what you are going to do.”

The sequence of events might be significant.  Judas goes out AFTER Jesus has shared the meal.  In John there is no recitation of the words of institution, so commonly associated with the Last Supper.  If you wish to insert those words into John, it would come prior to Jesus telling Judas it was time for him to do what he was going to do.  That sequence of events might be important.  Jesus waits till AFTER he has shared the cup and loaf to give Judas his leave.

Something else has happened, too.  If you were in worship on Maundy Thursday, you are likely to recognize these verses from John 13. They are the words spoken in the immediate context of Jesus having washed the feet of the disciples.

Again, the sequence may be important.  Jesus places himself in the role of servant and the role of provider – BEFORE he addresses the injustice which is about to be perpetrated upon him.  He shows his love of Judas - he seems to insist on showing his love of Judas – before acknowledging that Judas will be the one who betrays him.  He does not send Judas out until AFTER he has washed his feet and shared with him the bread and wine.

This is the context into which Jesus instructs his disciples to “love one another.”  We too often allow restrictions or limits to be placed on whom we will show the love of Jesus.  But if the sequence of events in the story matter, Jesus tells us that we are to wash the feet and offer the food from our table even to those who will betray us.

If you look a bit forward in your bibles you will see that Judas isn’t the only one whom Jesus might find opportunity to exclude from his love.  Our reading ends at verse 35.  Does someone have their bible open who can share with the rest of us the story which begins in the 36th verse? - - - It is the exchange with Peter in which Peter insists he will never abandon Jesus.  Peter insists that he will lay down his life for Jesus, only to be told by Jesus that he will deny even knowing Jesus three times before the crowing of the roosters.

When Jesus says to “Love as I have loved,” he speaks to those who do not always respond the way we would hope. 

And yet – clearly – Jesus loves them.  He loves Peter and he loves Judas.  He washes their feet and he feeds them at his table.  And he says to those who have also been invited to this banquet that they are to show their identity by doing the same.  Actually, he says their identity will be revealed when they do the same.  One does not become Jesus’ disciple by loving one another, as Jesus has loved us.  Rather, it is in loving one another that our identity as Jesus’ disciples becomes known.

While we may be tempted to limit those who are to be extended this love, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that we are to fling wide our arms and love even those who deny us or betray us.  We are to love as Jesus has loved.

As happens in today’s gospel reading, so also happening among us is an event that is somewhat off-stage.  I am referring to the Farewell and Godspeed begin extended to the departing students.  And I want to call attention to how their time among us is an revealing of this congregation’s identity as followers of Jesus.

First, students, I think you know that there are countless ways in which this congregation makes choices for your sake.  They pay the bills around here.  Because they want to provide for you, they cover my salary and build the buildings, they keep the lights on and the wi-fi working.

They also endure the endless parking battles, and the constant cleaning up from late night activities experienced as a result of remaining adjacent to a college campus.  This congregation loves you, and they show that love in every way they can.  I know you know this.  But it is good to speak about it out loud from time to time.

This love is given freely and without any strings attached.  But it is given with a hope.  And that hope is that as you grow into adulthood you would remember this exchange and imitate the actions in which you have been loved.  Look for ways and opportunities in which you can be the one who cares for others.  This is not to ignore or minimize the work you did last weekend through your participation in Relay for Life, or your building of wheel-chair ramps over spring break, or all the colorful quits you have sent to the children’s hospital and the homebound at Clemson Community Care, or the gifts of song you have shared in worship services.  But it is the hope of every community of Jesus’ followers that the expressions of loved offered will generate appropriate responses. 

We want to hear the good news that you have found a new congregational home and want us to transfer your membership.  We want to know that you have started teaching Sunday School or accepted a position on the Congregational Council.  It may be through Facebook posts, but we want to learn of your participation in Big Brothers, or of your support for refugees, or your actions to bring an end to all forms of racism.

Love, as you have been loved. 

And read the stories of how Jesus loved.  Mimic his way.  Wash their feet of others and attend to their needs.  Don’t wait to see how they will respond or reply – love them and care for them and leave it to God to explain why some can be loved so deeply yet continue to hate or refuse to love in return.

This is Jesus’ command.  It has been spoken of as the only command which Jesus ever gives.  It isn’t about doctrinal purity nor does it have to do with ritual.  It is about the way we treat others; it is about the way in which we see them and how we respond to them.  It is a simple command, really. 

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.  As I have loved you, you also should love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Devotion - Wednesday, April 20

I read this morning from Exodus 33.  Moses has received from God the Word.  God has spoken to Moses and instructed Moses.  And yet, Moses is unsure.  He lacks the full confidence of God's presence.  So he asks, "show me your glory."

In an elaborate and delicately crafted set of verses, we learn that God will allow Moses to see the his back, "but (God's) face shall not be seen."

I do encourage demanding of God the opportunity to see God's face.  And, I would be careful in thinking "God did it for Moses, why wouldn't God do it for me?"  I point out these verses as a way of acknowledging the reality of doubt.  When we lack the certainty we would desire, know that others (Moses among them) struggled too.

While we may think it a sign of weakness to wonder and question; in scripture such traits are a constant companion of the characters.  We read a few weeks back from the Gospel of John, which ends with an acknowledgement that these things were written so others may come to believe.  Do not look upon your own questions as signs of weakness, but see in them the curiosity which calls us forth to seek the God who has visited us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Devotion - Tuesday, April 19

In I Thessalonians 1, Paul writes "And you became imitators of us and of the Lord."

The world often dismisses imitations.  Imitations lack originality; they are fake or of lesser value.  But Paul speaks of imitators as the greatest.  Once again, the words of scripture challenge what we may be taught in other places.

The cultural push to be our own, unique self is strong.  It may encourage us to think that only when we are different will we be noticed.  In God, our unique selves emerge when we lose ourselves in the community which bears the name of The Son.  God does not fail to see us or take notice of us as we become imitations.

My daughter hand wrote the lyrics to a song.  It is by The Fleet Foxes.  The opening verse shares this thought.
I was raised up believin' I was somehow unique
A snowflake, distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see
Now, after some thinkin', I'd say I'd rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me.

"Imitators."  It isn't always a horrible label.  Nor is it such a bad status to seek.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Devotion - Monday, April 18

Matthew's version of the Beatitudes is in the 5th chapter.  These "blessings" are a comfort to Jesus' followers and a reminder that the ways and places where we are blessed are not the ways and places that the world would go looking.

The poor, the meek, those who mourn - these are those whom Jesus says are blessed.

It is helpful to read the Beatitudes and to be reminded of where it is that Jesus encourages us to find the blessings of God.  These places are the places where care of others is placed above our own advancement.  These places are the places were compassion is freely offered.  These places are the places where we remember the plight of others and involve our lives in meeting their need.

I am sure that there is a happiness in the lives of those who fail to follow the way of Jesus - I do not mean to imply there is no good that comes to them.  But the blessings which come by way of serving God and following God are so wonderful.  I wish for everyone the opportunity to experience the blessing of being united with Christ and experiencing the joy which exists among Christ's followers.

What a blessing it is, to be united with all of you.  And I pray that this day you might experience this blessing in your own life.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Devotion - Thursday, April 14

In Exodus 20 we have a listing of the words that God spoke to Moses.  We typically refer to these as "The 10 Commandments."

Dr. Michael, my Old Testament professor, did a marvelous job at reforming my childhood understanding of the giving of the Words of God.

First, he pointed out that the huge build up to the giving is an indication that God did not merely appear and insist that the people "obey" him.  Those who received the Word had responded to God's call to come out to the place where they would encounter God.  As they attempted this trip, God was by their side.  God protected them from those who would impede their travel; God fed them with manna and quail.  

Second, there is a relationship between the God who gives these Words and the people to whom they are given.  The Words are not some decree or manifest which merits one admission.  They are a covenant, marking a preexisting relationship.  "I will be your God, and you will be my people," God has declared.  "How will others know about this relationship between us?" the people ask.  "Live this way, and they will see," God replies.  

The group of us meeting on Mondays have been looking carefully at all of Luther's Small Catechism.  We started our study with the 10 Commandments.  If it has been a while, return to that part of the Church's teachings and be reminded that these are not rules once most obey in order to belong to some club.  These are instructions for how we live our lives.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Devotion - Wednesday, April 13

The appointed cycle of readings has me in Exodus 19.  For the past couple of days, I have been reading the events which build up to the giving of the Torah.  The people of God are at the base of Mt. Sinai.  God has come to the top of the mountain and has called Moses to come to join him there.  There is a cloud of smoke covering the mountain.  The people can see all this, and hear the thunder which is God's speaking to Moses.  But they are strictly forbidden to come up the mountain or even touch it.  

Wow!  What a scene!  Whatever Moses says when he comes down that mountain, one would be sure to hear and believe and follow.

If only God spoke so clearly to us, in our day.

In truth, the people did not listen, so faithfully, to what Moses shared.  It took some time, but not all that long, for them to abandon the commitments they will make when Moses comes back to share the Word of God with them.  They had seen this great sight, but they were not permanently changed.

It isn't the grandeur of an encounter which brings about real and lasting change.  It is something else.  It seems to have to do with the way in which the event is integrated into our hearts and into our lives.  I have seen persons changed and remade through encounters which others might consider sight or questionable.  Again, it is the value one places upon the encounter which seems to indicate the effect it will have.

God does come to you.  God does speak to you.  If you are looking for mountains covered in smoke, you are likely to miss the Word when it is spoken.  If, however, you are listening, you are likely to hear God's voice in so many places.  Making ourselves available to God is where meaningful encounters with God begin.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Devotion - Tuesday, April 12

Christianity has too often been co-opted as supporter of divisions between persons.  This is ironic, and perhaps heretical, in that the first challenge faced by Christianity.  Paul and Peter and much of the early church struggled with whether race should be a barrier to admission.  Did Gentiles need to become Jews in order to be followers of Jesus.

Paul makes the definitive statement on this.  He proclaims (and Jesus' followers agree) that in Christ there are no divisions - we are neither Gentile or Jew, man or woman, slave or free - but we are a new creation in Christ our Lord.  In essence, he tells us that we will not be able to divide persons.

But then the Christianity practiced by too many includes divisions.  Or at least tolerates divisions.  It was "god-fearing Christians" who owned slaves.  It is church-going individuals who protest against dark-skinned refugees being allowed into "our country."

A Church which is silent on these injustices is a Church which is complacent on these issues.  If we fail to speak up, our silence is permission for the wrong to continue.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Devotion - Monday, April 11

I stayed up too late last night watching a movie.  It was one my wife had seen while I was away this weekend.  She knew I would appreciate watching it, so she recommended it to me.  It was about Church life in Ireland in the 1950's and 60's.  I am glad I saw it, but it was disturbing.

It was the assumptions about God and piety which disturbed me.  Prevalent throughout the movie is an understanding of God as one to whom we must prove our devotion.  God is the angry one who must now be convinced of our willingness to suffer for our sins.

This presentation may not have been as stark had I not just returned from a weekend with the students who have agreed to guide LCM at Clemson.  They laughed and sang and expressed appreciation for the opportunity to be together as God's people.  They planned the fall calendar as a way to share with others the goodness of God's presence on our campuses and in this world.

Jesus says that he came to serve, not to be served.  And yet, the institutions of the world tend to find ways to turn this back around.  Surely, having been overcome by God's grace, we will reply and respond.  But never with a sense of duty or obligation.  

Jesus brings a deep sense of joy into our lives.  If that joy is not there, it may be something other than the way of Christ.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Devotion - Thursday, April 7

Exodus 16 recounts how God fed those set free from Egypt.  They were in the wilderness, hungry.  God send "Manna".

The description of this substance refers to it as a flake-like thing.  Moses tells them "It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat."  It didn't matter how much they gathered, when they measured it everyone only had a certain amount.  If they tried to store it up for the future, it rotted.  

The Manna came to them daily, and it was enough.

We had a discussion about this in our Catechism Revisited Class on Monday.  In that class, we were reviewing the Lord's Prayer, particularly the petition which says "Give us this day our daily bread."  The Catechism instructs us to give thanks to God, who sends us our daily bread.  Inevitably, the discussion had to turn to those who might offer this prayer, but remain hungry.

There are socio-political explanations for why so many in the world do not have daily bread.  Many of those reasons come back to the greed and indifference of others.  Setting aside socio-politics, I attempted an answer on Monday which I will repeat here.  Exodus 16 and that petition in the Lord's Prayer does not answer questions of why some of God's children go hungry.  Exodus and the Lord's Prayer teach me to look upon what I have as a gift from God, and understanding them as such motivates me to share my bread with those who have none.  God alone can handle the huge problems associated with solving enormous problems, I can only change my small part of it.  I can donate to the Clemson Food Pantry.  I can send gifts to Lutheran World Relief.  I can participate in the CROP Walk for Hunger.  I can speak up on behalf of those who have no food.  I can't change the world, but becoming grateful for what God has given me I can change the way I see the world, the way I see what has been given me, and the way I use what God has provided.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Devotion - Wednesday, April 6

The cycle of readings directed me this morning to I Peter 2.  As I read "You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people..." I recalled how powerful these words were to me during my own college years.  They point out one of the affirmations of our theological tradition; an affirmation which needs to be repeated often and taught to each generation.

We affirm the priesthood of all believers.  We believe and teach that God has chosen all of us to serve as priests in the Church which bears the name of Christ.

My son is a nurse.  Because of this affirmation, he has proceeded with confidence when he was the only "priest" available to offer confession or baptism.  He knows that in the Church which bears the name of Christ that he has been designated as one who bears the gifts of God for the people of God.

Regardless of the field of study or the career identified as preferable, each of us are a member in the royal priesthood.  Each of us serve as God's presence in the world which God loves and seeks to redeem.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Devotion - Tuesday, April 5

There are a few choice verses which guide my ministry.  The verses are appropriate for everyone in ministry, but they speak even more powerfully to me because of the particular context of the ministry God has called me to offer.

John 14:18 is one of those verses, "I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you."  

I like to quote sections of a book titled "College of the Overwhelmed."  Written by the director of Mental Health Services at Harvard, the book speaks of all the ways in which this generation of college students are "overwhelmed."

The college years are all about separating ourselves from our family of origin and finding our identity as an adult.  These are exciting years, they are also frightening years.  So many of the supports which carried us through the first 18 years of life are fading.  It is a time in our lives when it is too easy to feel abandoned and alone.

But Jesus promises, "I will not leave you desolate."  Jesus promises to "come to you."  

My role, in your lives and in your world, is be a reminder of Jesus' promise to come to you.  My role, is to make real the assurance that no one must face the troubling times in their life all alone.  

Monday, April 4, 2016

Devotion - Monday, April 4

I Peter 1:12 reminds us how blessed we are.  After speaking of the work of the prophets, who searched and inquired about the salvation to come in Christ, Peter reminds us that what has been shown to us are "thing into which the angels long to look."

That which we have seen are things which the angels hoped they would get to see.  How blessed we are, to have come into the world when the events of Easter are part of our shared experience.  How blessed we are, to know in full what those who followed God through the wilderness searched to find.  How blessed we are.

Too often we look for what is yet to come, rather than celebrate what has been given us.  Too often we anticipate the more to follow, rather than make full use of what is readily at hand.  Sure, there are future glories to come.  But the enormity of that which God has already given us is unimaginable.

We have been shown that "into which the angels long to look."

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sermon - 2nd Sunday of Easter

John 20:19-31            

                                                                      Doubting Thomas

We make a point of reading this story of Thomas and his doubts EVERY year.  Perhaps you realize there is a three-year cycle of appointed readings.  Year A draws readings from Matthew; Year B from Mark; and Year C is Luke.  But regardless of the year, on the Second Sunday of Easter, we read John 20:19-31.

Those who put designed the cycle of readings knew that it would be important for us have the opportunity to speak about the doubts which occur.  Those who put together the cycle of readings understood that it would be difficult for those who were not in that upper room on the first Sunday to believe.

We are among those who were not in the room “on that day.”  The remaining disciples were in that room, with the doors locked.  They were afraid. 

Then Jesus comes and stands among them.  He greets them, “Peace be with you.” 

The next two sentences seem confusing, or perhaps in the wrong order.  But when I remember how carefully these Gospel accounts were put together, I stop thinking these two line are improperly arranged.  They must be put together this way to make a point, so I begin to look for what the arrangement is trying to tell me.  Of these two lines, i is the second line which tells us that the disciples “rejoiced when they saw the Lord.”  I would have thought that they would “rejoice” right away.  But before we get to that rejoicing, they are shown Jesus’ hands and side.  Look at the order for yourself.  It is verse 20.  After Jesus greets them, he shows them his hands and side, THEN they rejoice.

Another reason why we shouldn’t think this is a mistake or an incorrect reporting of events is what happens next in the Thomas story.

What is it that Thomas sets up as his criteria for believing?  Thomas says he will not believe that Jesus has returned until he sees what?  Answer - Seeing the mark of the nails in Jesus’ hands.

Those who carefully put the Gospel together are trying to tell us something about doubting and believing.  Perhaps what they are trying to tell us has something to do with those hands and side.  Maybe the ability to believe that Jesus is alive isn’t as difficult as believing that hanging on a cross is the gateway to this resurrected life.

The LCM Bible Study group was discussing Romans 4:21 this past Tuesday.  This is the part of Romans were Abraham is lifted up as the model of what it means to follow God.  Paul argues in Romans 4 that Abraham is the “Father” of all the faithful, not because of his Jewish identity but because of his total and complete dependence upon faith.  And Paul writes that the hallmark of this faith is Abraham’s ability to trust that God was able to do what God has promised.  Of this, Paul says Abraham was “fully convinced.”

The inverse of this is to see those who are not “fully convinced” as persons who remain in doubt.  Persons like Thomas, or others who have not seen with their own eyes. 

Most conversations reveal to me an ability to believe that God is able to do what God has promised with regard to resurrection.  When we see God as the one who created life, it is logical that God could bring to life one who has died.  There isn’t as much doubt about that among us as one might think.

Where doubt enters the picture is when the image of the cross is interjected.  Doubt rears its head when nail marks are set forth as the way to the resurrected life. 

Maybe the ability to believe that Jesus is alive isn’t as difficult as believing that hanging on a cross is the gateway to this resurrected life.

This may be why substitutionary atonement is so popular among us.  Substitutionary atonement allows us to see the death of Jesus as a “once-and-done” event; “No need to go there again.”  We prefer thinking of Jesus as the one who suffers at the hands of an angry mob so that we don’t have to face that same fate.  But it is those who write about Jesus who set forth such an explanation.  Whereas Jesus spoke of his followers taking up the cross and following.

The story in John 20 may have less to do with the inability to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead.  Maybe what this story exposes is our inability to believe that the cross is the way to this resurrected life.

What would Christianity look like to the wider audience of Jesus’ followers took up their crosses?  How would Church life change should we hear Jesus’ words about those who have two coats sharing one with the neighbor who has none?  Just think of the consequences should those who believe in Jesus also come to believe that it is in dying to oneself that life is found.

We do doubt, don’t we.  We doubt that the way of Jesus is the way – certainly not the way for us in today’s world or our culture.  How would we survive if we sold our possessions and gave everything to the poor? 

We doubt that God’s plan for changing the world is setting loose a whole host of persons less concerned about their own life and more concerned about the lives of the forgotten and overlooked.

The writers of the Gospel accounts were very careful in their work.  And they were insightful.  They knew how difficult it was for the disciples to accept that the cross was Jesus’ appointed path.  And they understood it would be difficult for us as well.  It may, in fact, be easier to believe in the ability of God to bring life where death has entered the picture than it is to see the cross as the way to the life that God has promised. 

We would just prefer a differing route.  We would like to hold on to the resurrected Jesus while abandoning his invitation to follow where he has lead the way.

“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my had in his side, I will not believe.” 

“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”