Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rice Cakes: A Post Lent Confession

The Season of Lent is one of my favorite times of the year.  To be sure, the Season of Lent is about sacrifice and repentance and the movement toward the death of Christ, so it may strike you as odd that this would be my favorite time of the year.  The truth of the matter is that it has been during the Season of Lent that I have most consistently seen growth in my own spiritual life.  This year was a little different. 

On the night of Good Friday, during our Tenebrae service, I sat in our church, listening and watching the candles flicker and dance before I snuffed them out.   I began to long for the service to be a great emotionally charged spiritual experience.  The longer the service went on, as we journeyed through John’s account of Jesus’ betrayal, his trial, and execution, it became evident to me that I was not going to have the kind of experience for which I was hoping. 
I have a love-hate relationship with emotionally charged spiritual experiences.  For the most part, I usually poopoo these types of experiences because they can be too easily manufactured.  I have sat through more services than I care to recount where a preacher, song evangelist, or worship leader has used music, or carefully placed words, stories, and phrases to manipulate his or her audience into making a commitment or to raising one’s hands or to donating money to the building fund. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hope is the Last Word: An Easter Sermon on John 20:1-18

On Wednesday of last week, my wife gave birth to a new life.  Joshua Paul Buckwalter was born on March 20th at 12:16 p.m. weighing 8lbs 2oz.  He is a healthy, happy little boy.  We're calling him Josh.  The birth of a child can bring some amazing perspective to things.  This is his first Sunday at church, and I'm already going to use him as an illustration.  Poor kid has no hope for not being embarrassed by his father in front of people.  Such is the life of a preacher’s kid.

I figure at this point he doesn't mind.  He's not aware of much, and all he does is eat, sleep, and poo.  But I guess that's all he is supposed to do.

I'm not sure if it's the birth of a baby itself that lends all kind of perspective to things or if it’s the journey that the parents take together that leads to that point.  There's a lot of expectation, a lot of waiting, a lot of hoping that goes into the process.  A lot of hope. 

For new couples, the question is if they can actually have kids.  Are they sterile?  The hope is that they aren't.  The hope is that all of the things that are supposed to work, biologically speaking, will work.  The anticipation and expectation are great when a couple first sets about to have a baby.  That first month, they wait, and they hope, and they wait until the results come in.  Will we have a baby or not?