As we enter Holy Week, we are drawn into the turbulent events of the final week of Jesus’ earthly life. We join the parade on Palm Sunday, watch him drive merchants and money-changers out of the temple, teach his disciples and dispute with the authorities. We gather with him for the final Passover, we taste the mystery of being one with him in bread and wine. We go to the olive grove, we try to keep awake. We sleep, he prays. We draw the sword, he tells us No, we run away, we feel the betrayal. We slink to the judgement hall, we feel the accusations, the angry crowds, shouts of “crucify” in the air, our resolve crumbling. The whip’s cracking, the soldiers’ mocking, the women’s weeping, the Savior’s groaning. We stumble after Jesus carrying the wood on his bloody back, see him fall, try to help, feeling small. Our eyes averted, our ears ringing, our hands tied, as hammers pound, nails are driven, flesh is torn. We stand apart, we cry with him, my God – Why? God abandon yourself! – for you for me, so that I might never be abandoned.
We wait, we watch, we shudder, we listen. Come down! Come down! Save the world! Save the world! No reply, only darkness, only promise: today, you’ll see… you’ll be… in paradise… with me!
Like Joseph, we plead with Pilate: Just the body, the honor, please! We watch with love, the Savior’s body, taken with care, a flood of tears, placed in a tomb, sealed with a stone. We wait, we rest, like God: There was evening and there was morning, the seventh day. We mourn, until morning. Then we sing: Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
The water in the creek has started to flow mightily. A pair of geese are anxiously looking to make a nest by the pond, maybe on the beaver island! Song birds are busily singing and mating and building. The bees are buzzing and feeding on the pollen their keepers have provided for them. Only the herons have yet to return… The mysteries of creation we observe as the season changes is a tangible reminder of the resurrection life we are celebrating at Easter: always renewing us with grace and mercy, always surprising us beyond our expectations, always calling us to participate in the work of salvation. What a privilege, and responsibility, to live and worship here!
Now the green blade rises from the buried grain,
wheat that in the dark earth many days has lain;
love lives again, that with the dead has been;
love is come again like wheat arising green.
In the grave they laid him, love by hatred slain,
thinking that he would never wake again,
laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen;
love is come again like wheat arising green. (ELW 379)
Reformation Challenge Update
More than forty people signed up last spring for the challenge of reading Scripture for 500 days until the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Maybe you have found it difficult to keep up with the suggested daily readings. Maybe you never got started. No worries. October is a good month to make a new start. Here are some reading plans picked out of the hundreds available on-line. As with any exercise, there will always be days you don’t feel like it. What’s important is that you settle on one plan and stick with it.
The 5x5x5 plan. Five minutes, five days a week, and five suggestions on how to dig deeper. (you can use the remaining two days to catch up or “rest”) This plan will be printed out and put on the table in the narthex. It takes you through the New Testament in one year.
The Discipleship plan. Two readings each day, 25 days a month, with five days to “rest”, reflect, or to catch up. Through the entire Bible in one year. Printed on flyer available in the narthex.
A 365 day plan using the NIV translation. Daily continuous readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Psalm or Proverbs. It can be started anywhere on the list. http://www.biblica.com/en-us/bible/reading-plans/
An audio version, read in a pleasant British accent. Three readings every day. Through the entire Bible in one year. Easy to use site, with read-a-long option. Uses NIV translation. http://listenersbible.com/devotionals/biy/
A good translation is important. It must be accurate and in a language you understand. One translation that is both contemporary and accurate is the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), which tries to be very faithful to the words and meanings of the original text, and is also gender inclusive. So for example where the original says “brothers”, the NRSV will say “brothers and sisters”. Another very good translation is the Good News Bible, also called Today’s English Version (TEV), which uses a less literal approach to translation (so not always accurate word for word), but is easy to read. For example, in Genesis 1, where “God saw that the light was good” (NRSV), the Good News Bible says “God was pleased with what he saw”
Bible translation is very important work, because every translation is also an interpretation. Since we don’t speak the language of Isaiah or Paul, we rely on those who understand these languages to give us the sense of what they were writing. Nonetheless, some concepts, words and meanings always get “lost in translation”, while others get added. That’s why Martin Luther’s translation of the Bible was so important. Luther, his friend Philip Melanchthon, and many other scholars of the day, did tremendous linguistic work, researching the meaning of the ancient texts of the Bible and comparing existing translations. They spent years learning Hebrew and Greek, a life time praying and thinking about what God was trying to tell them, and sometimes days searching for a particular word, before putting pen to paper. The Luther Bible became extremely influential because of its freshness of expression, its faithfulness to the text, its universal appeal, and its inspired choice of words. I think Martin Luther would be thrilled to know that today there are literally dozens of English translations, and hundreds of translations of the Bible available in other languages. I think he would be even more thrilled to know that people are reading it daily.