The Very Last Things (and what comes after)

white flowers
Photo by Alena Koval on

Part Two: What Comes After

It’s early when the women gather. Honoring not just their savior or God, but their friend. The man they laughed with and cried with. Who washed their feet and who washed his. They’re probably, understandably, emotional. Holding one another up as they walk with their spices and love – for each other and their dead Messiah.

It’s women who preach the first Gospel message, to the male apostles who couldn’t believe it and thought the women were hysterical. Jesus was alive, supposedly. He destroyed death. Descended into the pits of hell to preach to the old guard, popped by to say hey to his friends, and then levitated into the heavenly plane in front of a crowd of thousands (You can say Jesus isn’t the Son of God, but can you really say he was lame?)

His last words still retained meanings, but they morphed into a far richer meaning with his death and resurrection, and how we should live while he did Jesus-in-heaven things.

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The Very Last Things (and what comes after)

silhouette photography of hanging rosary
Photo by Vanderlei Longo on
Editor’s Note: This post has been two weeks in the making. Apologies it’s landing on a Friday instead of a Wednesday.

Part One: The Very Last Things

Are you weary? Wondering where God is? Wondering what plans there are? Forsaken? Cast out?

Lent is the season of the Christian life dedicated to grief and lament, death and burial. It’s something we often fear in the church in favor of the hope and joy of Easter. I’m thankful, beyond what I could express, for the life of joy Easter offers us. But for three days they all sat in it. Mary, mother of Jesus, and Mary, cousin of Jesus. Judas who led him to the slaughter for tiny amounts of metal. Peter, who denied knowing his best friend. Mockers who threw stones and laughter in equal stride. They sat in it. That story matters. And it’s something we should talk more about on Sunday morning. But the story I want to read together today is not that one.

What were Jesus’, preacher extraordinaire, last words on this Earth? What might they have to teach us for the moments that everything is gone? That everything feels forsaken? That our flesh, literally or figuratively, hangs off our body, and the gnats, hungry and lost, bite into our open sides?

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True Strength and Courage

Read Joshua Chapter 1 On Your Own

It begins with the death of a father. In a valley, they bury a 120 year old man. For 30 long and bitter days, a nation weeps.

And then, out of the chaos and longing, a call is heard: Pick up your stuff and go, no harm will come to you, no wall will stand against.

To a grieving nation, this call is medicine for the soul. It feels like a long time coming. And, in fact, it was a lifetime in exile. Finally, there is hope. And yet, the author of Joshua does not say this is medicine for the soul. Continue reading “True Strength and Courage”

Your mysteries are madness


I would like to read the sentence “do you remember so and so” without feeling an immediate sense of dread. I would likewise appreciate texting out “Did you ever know so and so” without having to follow-up with “they’re not dead, I just have a story.”

As a social scientist, I rather enjoy statistics most of the time. The few times I don’t are when I realize one person 25 or under from some aspect of my life has died every four months since I graduated high school. To put that in perspective, I graduated exactly three years and one month ago.

Where is God in this death and dying? Where is God in the middle of the deepest valley? Where is the Healer in the coffins of 18 and 19 and 20 and 21 and 23 and 25 year olds? Where is that God?

Karl Marx once wrote that religion is the opium of the people, referring to the drug-like properties of religion in reducing suffering and illusions of strength and peace. With any due respect, Marx never got himself around to the root of faith. The root of faith is not the comfort in the mourning or the cry to God (or gods) at a moment of weakness. The root of faith is looking a sunset in the face and trying to reconcile the nature of a God who paints the sky each night and plucks children from their parents before they have a chance to really start their lives. The root of faith is anchoring yourself into a vast and bottomless ocean and trusting that somehow, someway, sometime, the metal will clink on rock and you will be saved. But the root of faith is not in the clinking of the metal, but in the free-falling of it.

This free-fall, this disbelief, this insecurity is where I write to you from today. Take it or leave it, but it’s all I have left in this season of death and mourning.

Continue reading “Your mysteries are madness”

Exile not Isle

Church de Diogène

If you’re coming at this Christian thing from a Western culture framework, you might have heard a little voice calling out to you from Jeremiah: For I know the plans I have for you. We in the West like to tattoo scriptures on our wrists, encircle them in floral print, and pin them to our mirrors on brightly colored note pads. I’m right there with you. But there’s something to this notion of a “Bible of comfort” that misses the point. Jeremiah 29 isn’t a letter of sunshine and rainbows. It’s a letter to the forgotten church, and a promise that all will be well long after they’re dead.

Continue reading “Exile not Isle”

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