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Easter Sunday reflection

Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on April 21, 2019 at 7:45 AM

Luke 24:1-12


But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’


Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.


The women went to the tomb expecting death.  Being prepared to do what they could in the face of death- offer devotion by anointing the body with spices.  They were doing what you do after a death- going through the motions, taking care of the details.  But the tomb was empty. And then two messengers of life brought them word that Jesus was alive, just like he had always said.  And these women, bearers of resurrection joy, tell the others.  Because you can't keep resurrection to yourself!  It's too overhwleming and too beautiful and too surpising.  


But the apostles don't belive it.  And I don't blame them.  Because new life never makes sense.  Ever.  Not when we are sitting in the shadow of death.  New life often feels like someone's trying to play a trick on us.  It often feels too good to be true.  We don't often trust it as easily as we trust the reality of death.  And that may be true for us on Easter morning, even as the church sings with resurrection joy. 


But despite our objections and doubt, new life runs out a greets us anyway.  Last night I joined with the Church in the Great Vigil of Easter (a long worship service that begins in the darkness of Holy Week and ends with the first worship of Easter!) And there we sang about resurrection: it "puts to flight the works of wickedness; washes away sin; restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn; casts out hate; brings peace; and humbles earthly pride."  This is what resurrection does.  Now.  In this life.  It changes the future.  It changes us.  It changes the crud of this world.  Not enough for us many days.  Not enough for those we pray for who are suffering.  But it brings the hope of what will be.  


And it keeps happening.  Today celebrate resurrection breaking out around you.  Let is speak the gospel to you.  And be bearers of that resurrection joy to those waiting to hear it. 



Holy Saturday reflection

Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on April 20, 2019 at 7:40 AM

Luke 23: 50-56


Now there was a good and righteous man named Joseph, who, though a member of the council, had not agreed to their plan and action. He came from the Jewish town of Arimathea, and he was waiting expectantly for the kingdom of God. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then he took it down, wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid it in a rock-hewn tomb where no one had ever been laid. It was the day of Preparation, and the sabbath was beginning. The women who had come with him from Galilee followed, and they saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned, and prepared spices and ointments.

On the sabbath they rested according to the commandment.


Silence.  In the face of death there is no answer.  Just questions.  "Why?" "How can this be?" "What comes next?"  There is anger and grief and confusion.  And waiting.


Today, spend time in that moment and pray for those who face the shadow of death. 


Good Friday reflection

Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on April 19, 2019 at 8:55 AM

Luke 23:26-49


(Click here for the whole passage)


The Crucifixion of Jesus

As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us”; and to the hills, “Cover us.” For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’


Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. [[ Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’]] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’


One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’


The Death of Jesus

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’ And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.


Reflection

Whenever I talk with my students about Holy Week, we tend to talk about the disciples- about Judas and Peter and the rest and how they acted.  Because we understand weakness. We understand failure and evil and fear. We understand running away and protecting ourselves. But love? A love so powerful that it can walk right into death for the sake of ungrateful people? That is a love that we cannot explain. That as often as we tell the story, still does not make sense to us.



We cannot understand his unwavering obedience to all that the Father called him to in this world. We cannot make sense of a love that loves so desperately that it will look us deserters in the eye and still love us. Without anger. Without derision. Without spite. With nothing but utter love. Even as it is in agony. It’s love that suffers abandonment and physical pain beyond our comprehension and still, still looks on us with a love deep enough to heal us.


It is a love that is too good for us. A love that makes us look at the cross with horror and gratitude when we see the lengths that this love goes to for our sake.


 

Jesus acts his love on us- love for all of us who don’t know how to love- so that we might have a chance to be transformed. So that we might glimpse the glory of God so clearly in his body on the cross that we might know what love God has for us. And for our brothers and sisters. And to know what love and glory and forgiveness and joy and justice is possible in our world.


 

The cross breaks the power of all that distorts the image of God in us. Our betrayal and denial and fear are no match for the face of love on the cross. The ugliness in our world and in our own lives does not get to be the last word. Jesus stares down all that we have done wrong, all we have been too cowardly to do, and all the evil that simply overwhelms us in order to strip those things of their power. In order to make us whole again in his love. So that we might have a different future and a different story.


 

And that means that wherever we would have been in the story- Judas the betrayer or Peter the denier or one of the other disciples who deserted him- Jesus would always be on the cross. For us. For all that is broken and in pain in our world. Jesus would always be on the cross because we could not be.


It is not right. It does not make sense. But it is holy. It is love. It is God. And it is our hope.

Maundy Thursday reflection

Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on April 18, 2019 at 8:20 AM

Luke 22:14-34, 39-46


When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!’ Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.


The Dispute about Greatness

A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.


Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial

‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.’


Jesus Prays on the Mount of Olives

He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’ Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.’ [[ Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.]] When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, ‘Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.’


Jesus and his disciples were celebrating the Passover like our Jewish brothers and sisters will do beginning on Friday night.  And Passover  is always a joyful feast. It’s a time to remember when God saved the Hebrew people. To remember how Moses told Pharaoh to “let my people go.”  and how God saved their first-born children from death and how God brought the Hebrew people through the Red Sea and into freedom. It was a joyous occasion.


And then, in the midst of this celebration, Jesus picks up the bread, blesses it and breaks it, saying that it is his body- given for the disciples. And then he picks up the cup, which he says is the new covenant, the new promise which his blood will bring. And that’s a sure way to kill a party! This is a feast about how God saved life and Jesus is talking about giving up his life.



He’s told these same disciples about his death 3 times before, but tonight he stops in the midst of the celebration to take the cup and tell them again that he would pour out his blood for them. He says that he will break himself open for their life, for there was nothing he will not do for the life of his people. He is trying to prepare the disciples for what is to come, to explain his life-giving love for them. But again he has exhausted words. So, tonight he lets the broken bread and cup of the wine speak for him, just as his bruised body will speak for him tomorrow.



Again, Jesus is trying to tell them, “I love you.” I love you so much that it breaks me apart. You may not be able to understand my words right now, but remember this bread and this wine. I have broken it for you, I have given it for you. Hold onto this bread and remember the desperate love I have for you. Remember me every time you share it with your sisters and brothers who gather around the table together as family. This is my love for you. This is love.  The bread and the wine. Our Lord being poured out in the cup. This is love.



Love. That is the kingdom that Jesus has been preaching. And love is the kingdom that Jesus is showing us today. And love is the reality that we live our lives within.  And love is the life that Jesus is calling us to live.


Share that love today- through a meal shared with someone who needs to know the lov of friendship or through serving someone who needs to know the goodness of kindness and love in their lives.  And share that love by praying for brothers and sisters who struggle, even if you do not know their names.  Jesus does, and that's enough. 



Spy Wednesday reflection

Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on April 17, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Luke 22:1-6


Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.


Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.


The story of Jesus' last week make us confront the worst in human nature- cowardice, fear, anger, jealousy and violence.  They are things we know hide within humanity and they are on full display in the events of Holy Week.  But of all the horrible things that happen this week, the one that is most debated is Judas' betrayal of Jesus. Why would someone who had been one of Jesus' closest followers choose to betray him? 


Some say that he was frustrated with Jesus because he refused to be a political leader who fought against the Roman occupying force.  Some say he didn't like the unrest that Jesus caused while turning over the tables in the temple. Two of the gospel accounts (Luke and John) say that Satan had something to do with the betrayal- how else can you describe turning the Son of God over to be arrested?  And some applaud him as a martyr or a hero because he set in motion the events that would bring God's salvation to us. 


You can struggle with the story and decide for your own self.  But Judas' betrayal also makes us look at ourselves and see the moments when we have turned on those we once loved- sometimes because of how they hurt us or sometimes because we dislike something about ourselves that we see in them.  And Judas makes us look at the times we have run away from God- when we just couldn't trust that love was for us or that it meant all that much, anyway.


But we don't remember these painful moments to beat outselves up.  This week when we look at Judas, we also look at Jesus, whose cross shows us the length that forgiveness goes.  Forgiveness that extends to us, even when we don't think we deserve it at all.  Forgiveness that our loving God gives simply because we need it to be whole again.  We need it to love others again.  Today, do what you can to restore a relaitionship that needs mending.  And also stop and enjoy the life-giving forgiveness that comes despite our mistakes. 

Holy Tuesday reflection

Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on April 16, 2019 at 7:35 AM

Luke 21:1-4


[Jesus] looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.’


Jesus is in Jerusalem during the festival of the Passover.  Lots of pilgrims have come to the city, so it's crowded and great for people-watching.  And Jesus sits outside the temple's treasury (that same temple where he just turned over the tables in frustration!) and he notices who goes to give the work of God's people.  He sees the rich folk in fine robes doing their best to be noticed for how much they are giving.  And he also sees the one who put in what she had.  It wasn't enough to keep the temple going, it would have been overlooked by many.  But Jesus honors the heart that gives, not the size of the gift.  And he recognizes one who's heart looks like his own. 


But I've got to say, this passage makes me a little uncomforatble, too.  Does Jesus really expect those without much economic means to give "all they have to live on" to the temple or to the church?  Even though I'm sure this passage has been used by some to mean that, this isn't who Jesus has shown himself to be in the rest of his ministry. 


Here Jesus is turning his disciples away from the rich and powerful to see the dignity and faithfulness of one they might usually ignore.  He's reminding them that those who are great in God's kingdom are not the same as the ones the world calls great.  And he's reminding all of us of the cost of following- it's not giving when it's convenient.  It's giving what we have and who we are to God even when that calls us beyond comfort.  


It's not about giving money to the church- it's about giving ourselves to the work of God in the world.  Sharing food with the hungry, sharing time with the lonely, sharing love with the unwelcome, sharing hope with the despairing.  Even when we don't feel we always have enough of those things ourselves.  Because this is who we are as God's people.  Giving what we can and receiving from our neighbors when we are the ones in need. 


Today, share some of who you are or what you have with someone who needs it.  And if it's beyond your strength right now, then recieve the gift another gives you in love. 



Holy Monday reflection

Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on April 16, 2019 at 12:15 AM

Luke 19: 45-48


Then [Jesus] entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling things there; and he said, ‘It is written,

“My house shall be a house of prayer”;

but you have made it a den of robbers.’

Every day he was teaching in the temple. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard.


After Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to crowds welcoming him as king, he goes into the temple courtyard and drives out those who are selling animals for sarificial worship.  They aren't necessarily doing anything wrong- they are just upholding the necessary religious duties. But Jesus turns over the tables because the whole system of sacrifices in the temple had become a distraction. People were so focused on what sacrifices to give that they were  missing what else God was doing in the world- meaning th presence of Jesus and his life-giving, welcoming, healing life among them!


Instead of a sacrificial system- where we need to make sure we’ve given the right sacrifices to please God- we have a God who shows us the lengths that God’s love will go to rescue us. We have Jesus who walks the way before us to be our guide in loving our enemies and serving our neighbors. We have a God in the flesh who shows us the overwhelming power of love to bring new life.

 

And this reality is so life-changing and powerful, that Jesus is willing to turn over the tables to make sure that people won't be distracted from it.  And he keeps doing that- in the world and in our lives.  He comes to mess up our lives to rescue us from ourselves and all the ways we har ourselves and let others harm us.  Jesus loves us enough not to settle for us being comfortable, but calls us again and again to live into God’s greatest dream for us- a dream he knows is possible with the power of God.   And Jesus opens us to the possibility that God can work through us to embody his desperate love for all people.But sometimes he needs to clean out a little of the stuff that gets in the way of us recognizing what God is doing in and through us. 


Today, clean off a small space on your desk or remove one distraction so that Jesus can get your attention this Holy Week, so he can show you again the life-giving love he brings to you and the world. 


Palm Sunday reflection

Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on April 14, 2019 at 7:05 AM

Luke 19:29-40


[Jesus] went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.

When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, saying, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you untying it?” just say this: “The Lord needs it.” ’ So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They said, ‘The Lord needs it.’ Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying,

‘Blessed is the king

who comes in the name of the Lord!

Peace in heaven,

and glory in the highest heaven!’

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, order your disciples to stop.’ He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.’


Today marks the joyful parade that begins Holy Week. The crowds and the disciples are cheering Jesus on as he comes into Jerusalem.  He comes in humbly, on a donkey.  In the Jewish Scriptures, this was the way the true king comes.    So the people were overjoyed that this miracle worker was coming to them.  "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" they shout.  Because they trusted that this Jesus was going to change their lives.  They were oppressed by the Roman government and they hoped that Jesus would change all this, that he would start a revolution.  That he would come through with a mighty hand and clean everything up- everything that's going wrong and everything that hurts their people!  And who doesn't want someone like to that in their corner- a superhero to fight for you! 


But they can't yet understand that Jesus' way to save us won't be what how want.  Powerful force will not be Jesus' weapon to deal with all that's wrong in the world.   He won't be knocking out enemies right and left.  But for today, they have hope that everything will change.  That their world will look different.  That God is up to something in Jesus.  That their king is coming.  And the only way to greet a king is with joy and shouting and with expectation.


If Jesus was walking into our neighborhood right now, how would you welcome him?  And what would you hope for and expect him to clean up in your life or in our hurting world right now?




What we're bringing back from Spring Break to our own communities

Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on March 25, 2019 at 10:15 AM

Here's a few reflections from our students about what they'll be talking about first with friends and and family after this Spring Break trip:

Just the state of Selma, how run-down it is, after something so important happened there. - Janae

The realities of mass incarceration and the way we got there.- Dazia

(The Legacy Museum detailed the path from slavery to incarceration and convict leasing after Reconstruction to Jim Crow laws and lynching to the War of Drugs- which had a distinct racial component, as is now admitted by policy advisors)-

That everyone needs to experience The Legacy Museum- Marian

Information about the criminal justice system and how the public defender said that poverty, more than race, determines how you're treated in the system.  - Unique

About how poor the education system is in Montgomery, Alabama.- Amanda

How so many women that we don't often hear about were involved in the Civil Rights Movement. - Sam

A reflection on our day in Selma

Posted by Baltimore Lutheran Campus Ministry on March 25, 2019 at 10:15 AM

A prayer written by Wes and Jude, intern and student from the University of Maryland, College Park.


God,

There has been much to be thankful for on this week-long pilgrimage.

Tonight, we give thanks for:

Messiah Lutheran Church and their well of hospitality

For the witness-bearing, legacy-carrying workers at the Lowndes Interpretative Center

For the new knowledge and rewritten narratives we were given there

For the space to be honest, vulnerable, and challenge our assumptions

And for those you put their lives on the line, gave their lives, and are still giving their lives to this cause, we give thanks

In giving thanks we also offer prayer and petitions for the people and stories we encountered:

For those whose lives were stolen too soon, especially Jimmie Lee Jackson, Rev. James Reeb, Viola Liuzzo, and Jonathan Daniels. These saints and servants helped bring revolution and reconciliation to Alabama. May they rest easy and never be forgotten.

May we who march now never lose hope or let go of our righteous anger.

When a people shout “How ling must we suffer?” may you always answer, “Not long.”

May you guide our feet from the Edmund Pettus Bridge and the steps of the Brown Chapel AME Church straight to the halls of power.

May we hear the horrors of Bloody Sunday and the terrors of the tent city and vow to never let those things come to pass again.

We lift all these things to you, with humbled hearts and renewed dedication to your work

saying, Amen.


 


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