How do we know when an organization isn’t healthy?
Preachers tend to have favorite passages and topics for preaching and teaching. If you don’t preach from the Revised Common Lectionary each week, it can be easy to fall into predictable patterns that limit your congregation’s exposure to the full range of God’s Word. We all have blind spots, and it’s worth asking where we might be missing the opportunity to address a pressing need.
“Asbury’s zeal for God and his commitment to preach and teach the gospel is now legendary, but it was never meant to be extraordinary – it was meant to be the ordinary work of everyday Methodists.”
“The ordinances of God are the fundamentals of how we get initiated into faith. Repetitive practice and exposure to prayer, worship, Scripture reading and study, the Eucharist and even the lost discipline of fasting all help to mature us as Christian disciples.”
God fulfills his promises. We know this. But we often struggle to see how. Because the promises God makes and the promises we would like aren’t always the same. His wisdom is not ours.
“This is the second difficulty of praying ‘Thy will be done’ – that God’s will for one moment will become our idol in the next.”
And the soldiers—the protectors of civil order— decide to bury the truth. They take their bribe and the promise of protection from Pilate’s wrath, and they toe the party line. They protect the power of a broken world.But the women—the ones with little influence, the ones who are least likely to be believed—they run from the empty tomb with great joy. It is only as they are obedient to the angel’s command that Jesus himself appears to them.
And in our gospel passage, Mary of course – like all of us on this side of death – is not yet fully awake. She makes first contact with the resurrected Jesus, and it’s about as awkward as Peter embarrassing himself by trying to pitch a tent on Mount Tabor. Mary’s problem is that she thinks Jesus is dead, and when she sees that he’s gone, she consoles herself by saying, “they have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.”
Mary Fletcher was the first woman John Wesley permitted to preach in the 1770s. Her journals, diaries, and letters embody the largest collection of Methodist papers in existence with the sole exception of John Wesley’s papers. There are times I’ve wondered if a Lenten fast is nullified by Easter feasting. But in reading Mary Fletcher’s journals, noting the ebb and flow with which she made entries, I understood her seasons of profuse writing were not negated by the seasons of terseness.
“Providence does not mean that we have no free will. God’s providence does not rule out human freedom. Providence is not opposed to cooperation with God. Providence does not mean we are off the hook or that we have no sense of responsibility when it comes to spiritual growth. Rather, we cooperate with God as we grow in our faith by practicing spiritual disciplines or the means of grace.”