Category Archives: Holy Days

Three Days

A lot can happen in three days.  The world can change in just three days.  I’ve been thinking about the three days we are walking through at the end of this Holy Week – three days traditionally called the Triduum in the church.  Here’s a definition: “Triduum”the period of three days that begins with the evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.  You may know these three days by more familiar terms: beginning at dusk on Maundy Thursday these 72 hours extend through Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.   They are three days that changed the course of history and perhaps the trajectory of your life. Continue reading

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Lifted Up

There are three places in the Gospel of John where “lifted up” sayings appear.  Each of these are quotes from Jesus.  Here they are:

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up”  – John 3:14

 

“When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” – John 8:28

 

 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” – John 12:32

 

This “lifted up” wording may sound strange to us, but Jesus and his contemporaries knew exactly what he meant.  In first century Palestine the primary way a person was “lifted up” was by crucifixion.  Jesus is forecasting his death, and the means by which he will die, in these sayings. Continue reading

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Embracing the Lenten Season

This Wednesday, February 14th, in addition to being Valentine’s Day, is Ash Wednesday.  This day marks the beginning of the Lenten Season – a period of 40 days, plus 7 Sundays that ends with Easter.  The 40 days are modeled after Jesus’ 40 days of temptation in the wilderness (see Mark 1:12-13).  The 7 Sundays are intended to be 7 “little Easters” along the way – a respite of worship and celebration in the midst of our otherwise sober companionship of Jesus through his 40 day trial.

I did not grow up in a Christian tradition that emphasized Ash Wednesday or Lent in any fashion.  My first exposure to this season of the church year was during my seminary days as I served on the staff of a congregation that did observe the liturgical, or church, year.  I only attended my first Ash Wednesday service as a 35+ year old adult, and I’ve only led a very few Ash Wednesday services as a pastor.  (Being Baptist we often exert our “freedoms” when it comes to all things liturgical!)

Still, I find this day, and this season, to be increasingly important and significant in my faith – and I hope you might as well (no matter your faith heritage). Continue reading

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It’s a Wonderful Life – Treasure It

Christmas was for me, as is true with many children, a magical time of year.  I have fond memories of childhood Christmas experiences that involved my parents, siblings, extended family and church.  These memories have kind of all blended together as the years pass by, but one or two still manage to stand out.

A Christmas memory I treasure yet to this day concerns the year that our parents decided to give each other the same gift.  I’m not sure where the seeds for this gift idea were sown, or how long they had germinated, but as the Christmas season rolled around that year it was common knowledge that Mother and Dad had talked about a television for the dining room.   “Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to watch the morning news over coffee and toast, while seated at the dining room table, rather than just listen to the local radio station?”  An idea was hatched. Continue reading

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It’s a Wonderful Life: Believe It

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When I was a kid our family often traveled for a summer vacation.  Our highway travels took us all across the United States to a variety of destinations, some of which had “believe it or not” attractions.  These varied from the billboard advertised “unbelievable” and “world’s largest” or “world’s greatest” this or that, to the only slightly more respectable Ripley’s museums you find in tourist towns.  Despite getting my hopes up that we might stop, pay the fare, and feast our eyes on the unbelievable – as it turned out, I learned that our family (especially dad) were not believers when it came to these attractions.  Instead we were treated to some of God’s more unbelievable natural attractions in the nation – Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, the Rocky Mountains, and so forth.  In hind sight I think we got the better deal!

As you read the narrative accounts of Christ’s birth in Matthew 1 and Luke 2, they might strike you as containing stories that are too good to believe. Continue reading

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