Showing posts from 2011

On Loosening the Screws

Now is a great time to loosen- instead of tightening the screws- on the people in your life! In an image that comes right out of Dickens' England, screws were tightened on the prisoner's crank, making it more difficult for the inmate to twist. In order to occupy their time with labor, the treadmill was used in a similar fashion.

Before you start about a nice work out at the gym, and you didn't know Victorians cared for the health of their prisoners, know that this "activity" went on all day (for about six hours at a time), every day, not as "recreation," but as punishment intended to cause pain, suffering, and despair. On the typical prison diet with this kind of hard labor, inmates mostly died in prison long before serving out their sentence.

The term "tightening the screws" means that sometimes we make it more difficult for others for no other purpose than because we can. As if anyone needs life to be harder, it seems some folks exist to do…

Advent: Winter of the Spirit

Though I have long lived away from the climates that offer four seasons, I think it's a disadvantage to never have lived to experience at least once each season in its fullness. Most places offer three seasons and parts of a fourth. Our calendars and lives are marked by the seasons.

But it's not as easy to name our current spiritual season. Many of the biblical references to the seasons are tied to the growing calendar, the rural festivals that reflected Israel at a certain stage of being settled as opposed to being nomadic. Whatever season we find ourselves in, each spiritual season comes with unique invitations to experience new depths of God's love and grace.

Winter deals specifically with dormancy. What is within that is just beginning, waiting for its time to come? Waiting and patience thus becomes winter's spiritual work. Thomas Keating once wrote that the virtue of humility requires or assumes humiliation. In similar fashion, the only way to more patience is th…

The Glorious Prayer and Lord (3)

For thine is the kingdom and power and glory forever.

You won't find this phrase in either Luke or Matthew. Many Christians use this as a closing ascription to God. The words are used as a part of David's prayer in 1 Chronicles 29: 10-13. Also recall Revelation 5:12 and 7:12.

Some have suggested that these words were formed in the oral tradition through the cauldron of intense persecution, a time within two generations Jesus. Could these words have been on the lips of the first martyrs, those who were threatened to renounce Christ and proclaim Cesar as their king and god- or suffer the consequences?

Like any part of the Lord's Prayer, this conclusion can form the basis of multiple sessions. If you haven't already exhausted the kingdom theme, power and glory are great word studies with many biblical references. To end the prayer with these words is entirely in concert with counter-cultural nature of what we have already prayed in the text of this prayer. This…

The Glorious Prayer and Lord (2)

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Here a switch can be made effectively to Matthew's version in Matthew 6:9-13. This is appropriate due to the teaching of Matthew 6:14: "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others. neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

The setting for Matthew is not the disciples' request for guidance in prayer, as in Luke. The context for the prayer in Mathew is the Sermon on the Mount, and chiefly, how not to be like the hypocrites. (6:2,5) References to pagan prayer are explicit here (6:7 ff.) not just in story form, as in Luke.

So the prayer as a whole is given to us to avoid duplicity and attain integrity of heart and life. If we are going to pray for forgiveness for ourselves, that implies we also practice it, or to deal with the weight and consequence of unforgiven debt. (Matt. 18:23-35)

And lead us …

The Glorious Prayer and Lord (1)

One of the better discussions on the Lord's Prayer is Wright's The Lord and His Prayer. Wright develops the theme that this is a Kingdom prayer for Kingdom people. The other thing he accomplishes is that he brings in references from the whole Bible, the Old Testament and especially the story of Jesus in the Gospels, to explore what it means to pray this prayer. The book can be an excellent supplement to whatever approach you decide to use in teaching or study

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

I used Luke's version in Luke 11 as the backdrop for the first half of the study. In Luke, you have a clear invitation to all to engage the prayer as a beginner can, with the disciples asking Jesus how to pray, and the wonderful parable of verses 5-13 teaching about the nature of the Father's relationship to us, and the foundation of all prayer being God's giving to us in and through the Holy Spirit. God's self giving to us is what moves us to pray in the…

Wake Me Up When December's Gone

I'm guessing that's the unspoken plea of thousands, maybe millions.

Most of us really hope that this Christmas will be different. That this year, we'll experience a deeper sense of ministry and love. I need the hope to become an intention, or else happenstance will determine the movements for me. And that just leaves me with the experience of having missed the chance to live more fully. Just to survive, we could surrender to the "this too shall pass" approach, but dangling by a thread is not conducive to any measure of abundant life.

The dance of ministry these some sixty days requires more than looking with resignation to the surrealistic schedule of events. The grueling demands of the season are framed as always, by the unplanned crisis that can turn life on a dime. So the case is stronger to make some choices, if I haven't already done so. What do I need to receive from the loving Holy Trinity? Is there one activity or practice that I can engage in a wa…

Serving God, Mammon, the "Extreme" Middle

Joerg Rieger, the Wendland-Cook Professor of Constructive Theology at Perkins School of Theology, has written a brief but very needed volume published earlier this year entitled Grace Under Pressure: Negotiating the Heart of the Methodist Traditions. The book provides a corrective and critique of the mainline, traditional understanding of Wesley and primitive Methodism as a kind of middle ground.
We meet God at the bottom. Rieger asserts his self-critical principle early on and it comes from Mr. Wesley himself, in 1764: "Religion must not go from the greatest to the least, or the power would appear to be of men." In 1783, Wesley states it again: "'They shall all know me,' saith the Lord, not from the greatest to the least (this is that wisdom of the world which is foolishness with God) but 'from the least to the greatest,' that the praise may not be of men, but of God.'"

In the pressures of post colonialism, there is no "middle ground." …

The Church of Lucy and Ethel

"So we feed the ecclesiastic furnaces our burned-out wrecks: tired leaders, disillusioned ministers, fatigued congregations- marshaling them to dance longer, march faster, pray harder, cry louder in earnest for God to come...We must be brave enough to stop if we are to see change... Our structures must serve us, not us serve them." Kester Brewin, Signs of Emergence

The signs of the industrial/factory church of the last century:
Strategies are tied to organizational control, market share, and the efficiency model.
Better metrics or measurements provides an improved Body of Christ.
Spirituality is nothing by itself, but is one variable among many.
There is no such thing as "overflowing cups," as these are a dangerous waste of scarce reserves.
Motivation is fear-based- since we engage ministry in order to survive.
Heavy emphasis on explanatory process of statistical and trends analysis.
Vision is connected with deficiencies and needs, not gifts, strengths, or abundance.

Clergy Ethics Well Explained

Psyche and Spirit is one of the best resources I know for the stuff they didn't cover in seminary, things they told you that you couldn't hear, or maybe just didn't want to hear at the time. In a recent post, the email journal listed characteristics of the most ethical pastors:
Respecting confidentiality
Keeping good boundariesFollowing sound protocols based on best practicesNot violating best practices even when tempted to do soEncouraging best practices in othersRespect for others' feelingsRestraint from speaking ill of othersHonest and clear about how congregational resources of time and money are usedThe authors go on by saying this about the most ethical pastors, " They don't put personal purchases on the church tab. They don't act as if the ends justify the means. They don't misuse continuing education time. They don't lead by manipulation or intimidation. They don't hijack meetings for their own ends."

Do you know of any orga…

Feel Good Religion

If the taste of good mood food can be addictive, what about good mood faith? If we fill our spirits with anything and everything that makes us feel good, won't that lead us to do good things? Whatever we fill our minds with all day long is the real measure of our spiritual well being: for as we think, so are we. (Proverbs 23:7)

To push the argument a little further, who really goes to church to feel worse? Is the goal of the Christian spiritual life to be more miserable? What about the watermark of Christ- the "fruit of the Spirit," such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? It doesn't matter whether you consider these as the result of communion with the Holy Trinity, or as the by-products of your spiritual practice.

Feel good religion has been apart of the human condition for a long, long time. And part of the creed of atheism is that such ideas are wish-dreams and positive posts from ourselves to ourselves. …

"Limitless" & Big Pharm Culture

Limitlesswill keep your attention. Its ending is more humorous than disastrous, though the movie does have violence on the way there. This is a pharmacological science fiction, and you won't be seeing any prime time ads for its drug of choice.

If taking a pill would turn your life around, help you avoid being thrown out on the street, and you were told that it was soon to be FDA approved, would you give it a try? Maybe not if it was a drug-pushing former brother-in-law who offered it to you. But down and out writer Eddie Morra, played by Bradley Cooper, is desperate enough to give the pill a try.

The miracle drug allows Morra to use 100% of his brain power - including all his memory. Soon he can speak in a variety of languages, masters the martial arts, and completes amazing novels in a matter of days. He becomes bored with all this and decides to apply his new brain power to the field of financial mergers. He outwits the best of Wall Street to the point that people begin to w…

The Myth of Balance

Strengths Based Selling is the latest in the strengths genre. Authored by Tony Rutigliano and Brian Brim, it is filled with Gallup's research on high-performing salespeople. Developing your strengths creatively- and managing your weaknesses (see the Appendix) -is the key to first engaging yourself and the others you serve. Engagement -and not just higher energy- is the goal, because, regardless of your work, it is central to personal well- being and higher productivity.

Someone saw me toting around a copy of this book, along with Thomas Keating's Invitation to Love. Being strategic, this was normal for me. For them, these two titles didn't belong together. The authors claim that there is a contemplative approach to selling, with connections to the strengths of Ideation, Learner, Input, or Strategic. These are cerebral folks, and starting out with solutions to the "why" questions. Before convincing others, the contemplative first has to answer for themselves …

you can call me Mike

Michael-- Bolton? The consultant in the movieOffice Space, Bob Slydell, really liked the whole idea of Bolton the singer, but he and his chum (the other Bob) had no time for the real employee by that name. They moronically asked "Any relation to the singer by that name?"

I recently heard a good sermon that brought up the question of how names can bless or curse. The example was about nick names, but in the movie, the poor computer programmer had to explain to everyone that he was not Michael Bolton the singer.

Our tagged names, whether they are our choice or not, never really fit us. Like David being told to use Saul's armor, not only do the labels limit us, but they can do serious harm. Thus, David had to discard even the warrior King's own armor to duel the giant. He had to go with his own strengths, the quickness and stealth of the hunt. Playing a size game with the behemoth would have meant the end for David.

There are too many books out there on leadership, w…

Bark! Musings on a Theme by Will Willimon

Bishop Will Willimon penned the phrase The Dog Days of Pentecost and I first read it in a wonderful collection of his devotions published in On a Wild and Windy Mountain. With the drought of 2011, the phrase should make a comeback.

This grueling season is endless and monotonous, and hot! For those churches which observe the church seasons, the season after Pentecost takes us from mild spring days and nights through Christ the King, the culmination of the Christian calendar, which is usually a Sunday in late November. In between are the dog days and the time called "ordinary." We take what respite we can find in summer vacations, holidays, camps, reunions, back to school preparations, and lots of air conditioning!

Whenever we're stuck and not moving in the spiritual life, the season is one of dog days, regardless of the time of year. You are listless, lifeless, and, like the diminishing water tables, we too maybe drained of reserves. We may struggle to sustain the pac…

On speaking your truth

From hedge fund managers to sports "analysts" many people claim they can forecast the future; most of the time, they're telling you what you already know, or can find out for yourself! So church consultants from every persuasion tout the importance being more fruitful or successful in ministry, i.e., more people in church. Is fewer people supposed to be a good thing? Pardon the Charlie Sheen here- but-- DUH!

According to Deuteronomy, as the prophet's prediction actually happens, they are a true prophet. If not, they are a false prophet -- with dire consequences of course for the false prophet. Was this a corrective for the many false prophets who used their gift and office to advance themselves?

By just about any reading of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible, the practice of soothsaying appears to be the norm, while the true prophet was the exception. From I Kings, read the stories of Elijah and the prophets of Baal- or what bad King Ahab said about Micaiah: "I…

Piety Sells

It does if can be done in the name of politics. When Jesus talked about prayer in public, he mentioned those who already have their reward. (Matthew 6: 5)

Were Jesus words a caution directed at the image-driven self which seeks, in almost idolatrous fashion, to mold everything in its own image? We can even mold prayer in our image, can't we? We can attempt to use it for self-serving and limiting purposes. We can take anything given to us, something meant to bless, and misuse it.

The blessing and curse of such stunts is that people who employ them benefit more than anyone else, even if it's just being seen by a few more thousand folks.

Braeswood Assembly Welcomes All in SW Houston

Braeswood's steeple is easy to find and has been at its present location for many years. Not far from the corner of Braeswood and Fondren, surely this area of town has seen its share of change over the last 30 years. It was easy to find a parking space even though I saw no signage for the existence of visitor spaces upon entering. On my walk to the building, I discovered about 30 "VIP" parking spaces designated for visitors. All were used except one or two. There is a more distant shuttle lot as well.

Led by Senior Pastor Steve Banning, who is Anglo and son of the former Senior Pastor Earl Banning, Braeswood is multi-cultural: there are two full Sunday Hispanic services in their Fellowship Hall. The congregation was largely African American and African immigrant at the 10:45 Contemporary service in the sanctuary. This congregation numbered approximately 350, maybe more. The sanctuary with balcony looks like it will hold between 700 and 750. According to their websi…

Dr. Oz is not my doctor

Nor do I find community in the blink of an eye or a snap of my finger. For that matter, a click wishing a happy birthday is nice, but not very enduring. Jesus' blessings are not to "the friended" or the "liked this." (Matt. 5: 3-12)

I'm thinking about how the Amish, are, according to Weird Al, " just technologically impaired," but in a good way. The telephone makes my convenience more important than the act of face to face community. In the heyday of 1980's televangelism, an ad for the Episcopal church read, "With all due respect to TV Evangelism, have you ever seen a Sony that could give Holy Communion?"

Like pretending Dr. Oz is "my doctor" by watching his program, "community" has become the least common denominator where the road of least resistance is encouraged, and one size fits all. Telling me I have "notifications" is not going to change the fact that I lack motivation in the area of extending rea…

Let's be honest about "clergy health"

Let's take a look at a recent stab at this topic, courtesy of the Board of Pensions of the UMC. I know these recommendations are the fruit of hard work, long hours, prayer, reflection, and concern. I appreciate the committee's effort and energy. Their work should start a conversation at least and hopefully bring about some positive change. The task force’s recommendations are set forth below, with my response in the last three paragraphs of this post. More help for those entering licensed or ordained ministry: Stronger screening of candidates for ministry, standardization and strengthening of the residency program during the provisional period, and providing a provision for a career‐long mentor, apart from the district superintendent.Guidelines for healthy work/life balance: Champion and monitor clergy health and wellness, promoting annual (regional) conference resources, and providing support to clergy, spouses and families.Changes to itinerancy and appointment making: …

LBJ links

Congratulations to the best team, the 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks!

The two best articles I found are from those who have covered the Cavs while Lebron was in -and then out- of Cleveland the last eight years including the pre- and post "decision" era: Terry Pluto's article, Decisions have consequences and Bill Livingston on Lebron's world.

Also from July, 2010 (Bryant Gumble) is still interesting.

Naming your toxic pools

Toxic Brew is a great article on recovery as an adult child. It actually names recovery from trauma as central to the process. Too, it also lists the characteristics of adult children and supplies several sources that have been written since the Adult Children of Alcoholics book was published. All very helpful.

The truth is we cannot lead others by denying who we are. And we cannot equip others to live out their lives fully and faithfully if we are not also on the journey to greater self-awareness and self- acceptance. If we're above the healing Christ offers us, then how do we offer this same grace to others?

Knowing ourselves, we know better how to find nourishment for our soul. It takes wisdom and discernment to name the toxic pools in your own river. And it takes God's grace to work on them. (Phil. 2:13) This rarely comes from just ourselves without some help from mentors, soul friends, or spiritual directors. We do not have anything to give that we did not first receive.…

The Risen Lord Sends the Holy Spirit (14)

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life,who proceedeth from the Father and Son,who with the Father and Son together is worshiped and glorified,who spake by the prophets.

from The Nicene Creed, Book of Common Prayer, 1662

In his wonderful book on ordained ministry, Edward Zaragoza, explains that fulfilling the call to Christian ministry is about friendship: our being at home with ourselves, reaching out to others in mutual love, and accepting and responding to God's offer of friendship love. Even more, it is about God being Trinity, One in Three, as the Spirit is given and shared by Father and Son.

Ministry in the Spirit is supposed to be life-giving, at least as much as it is life-taking. This is not how generations of clergy have been trained to approach our calling. I remember years ago, when I was speaking on this topic, an older clergy leader stood up and said, in essence, "Ministry for me was something I was expected to do- it never even entered my…

Waiting- with Mary- in the "second" upper room (13)

The 13th Station of Light is from Acts 1:14: "All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers."
Sometimes our picture of Mary is frozen in time, witnessing the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Remember how, from the first, Mary chose faith: "Let it be with me according to your word." Luke 1:38 Now, after Jesus' crucifixion and burial, Mary is seen once again following the word to "stay here in the city" until the coming of the Spirit. Mary is joined with her remaining sons and the disciples, waiting in the upper room.
Waiting for the Lord is about trusting God. In part, its spiritual discipline is unlcuttering, a faithful action of letting go of our attachments, the root of which means to be "staked to." Worry and anxiety require us to buy into, to choose to believe, at least two lies: (1) I can control the outcome of things and (2) I can keep b…

Station # 12: The Lord Ascends

And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." Acts 1:6-11 NASB
As the actual reference to this station is italic, I …

Our life as mission field (11)

But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. And when they saw Him, they worshiped [Him]; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:16-20 NASB

It is here at the Eleventh Station of Light that disciples (followers) are commissioned to become apostles (sent out). Maybe the biggest difference between the earlier missions in Jesus' public ministry and this Great Commissioning is the setting. It is the very last will and testament Jesus is making in the first Gospel.

Although many churches take this passage on as their purpose, I wonder how many Christians really see themselves as apostles, thei…

Being chosen is rarely what we think (10)

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, [son] of John, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My lambs." He said to him again a second time, "Simon, [son] of John, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Shepherd My sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, [son] of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Tend My sheep." John 21: 15-17 NASB

Whenever we think being called or chosen is not about us, we have hope of getting it right. Biblically speaking, one of the strongest themes from Genesis to Revelation is about God offering covenant to us- continually- and our rather conti…

Faith is about taking the next step (9)

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, "Peace [be] with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed [are] they who did not see, and [yet] believed." John 20:24-29, NASB

I used to think that "having faith" meant that I would…

The Power to Forgive Is Given (8)

Then [Jesus] breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they will be forgiven. John 20: 22-13a CEV
In this station the Spirit gives to disciples the power to forgive. What of this gift to forgive ourselves and others? Forgiveness is the inner freedom not hold others' offenses against them. It is freedom from wanting to see others suffer the same kind of pain they inflicted on us. (see, for example Psalm 137:7-9) It is not about forgetting the offense, pretending it never happened. Thinking an injurious act never happened may be amnesia or a symptom of dementia, it is not forgiveness.
What we misunderstand about forgiveness can continue the wrong, rather than righting it. For example, two children, one a bully and one who is being bullied, can be told to "make up" by an adult, to be friends. This simply enables the bully to be nastier. Meanwhile the bullied child suffers more, and may become an abuser as an adult. The wou…

Well Being According to Gallup

In Well Being: The Five Essential Elements, authors Tom Rath and Jim Harter coalesce the data on what makes for a good life. From myriad studies and surveys polling populations in the U.S. and in many other nations, their best work is in summarizing how people are finding happiness in the areas of career, social, physical, financial, and community well-being.

Published by Gallup, it's typical self-help in that the focus is limited to whatever changes the individual can muster in order to move toward greater well-being. You would expect this when we are taking about health, job, money, and social life. Thus, I was a little surprised, when the book takes up the topic of community well being, even then it was all about my involvement in it, not justice or common wealth or harmony or shalom. It was more about how my altruism in civic, even church affairs, can raise my own sense of feeling good. But isn't altruism a little more than my feeling good about myself?

There is some drop…

A sign for the Jerusalem 11 (7)

Station #7: Jesus appears to the disciples in Jerusalem.

And they [began] to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread. And while they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst. But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." Luke 24:35-39 NASB

The disciples of the Emmaus road, after doubling back to Jerusalem, told about their experience to the disciples who stayed in Jerusalem. Even as the two from the road were speaking, Jesus shows up, seemingly to confirm their witness with a sign for the Jerusalem 11. Jesus accompanies their witness, or as Mark tells, "while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompa…

When pain is all around (5 & 6)

Station #5: Jesus appears to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Station #6: He is recognized in the breaking of the bread.

And it came about that while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus Himself approached, and [began] traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him....

[And] their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, "Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?" And they arose that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, saying, "The Lord has really risen, and has appeared to Simon." And they [began] to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread. Luke 24: 15-16, 31-37 NASB

With our hearing healed in Station 4, 5 and 6 are all about seeing with the eyes of…

From Disciple (3) to Apostle (4)

Station #3: The risen Lord appears to Mary Magdalene.

Station #4: Mary Magdalene proclaims the resurrection to the Apostles.

When she [Mary Magdalene] had said this, she turned around, and beheld Jesus standing [there], and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means, Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and [that] He had said these things to her. John 20:14-18, NASB

The transformation from disc…

Women Find the Empty Tomb (2)

The Sabbath was over, and it was almost daybreak on Sunday when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. Suddenly a strong earthquake struck, and the Lord's angel came down from heaven. He rolled away the stone and sat on it. The angel looked as bright as lightening, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards shook from fear and fell down, as though they were dead. The angel said to the women, "Don't be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. He isn't here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where the body was lying. Matthew 28;1-6 CEV

Finding Jesus' burial place with no body present would not have been a good thing. Those crucified were cursed, according to Deuteronomy 21:23. The humiliation was further "perfected" by Roman armies when the executed were refused burial. To be denied any possibility of a burial would have been the final insult. Finding the tomb empt…