Friday, April 23, 2010

Earth day...plagarized

One of my wife's (and my) photographer friends published some of his landscape photos in his blog for Earth Day. So, not to be outdone, here are some of my landscape images.




Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pleasure to meet you....



I will start to say that I've never been "awed" by actors or actresses, or celebrities. Over the years, and due to various circumstances, I've met a few: Linda Hamilton; Monty Hall; Sugar Ray Leonard; Smokey Robinson. Of course, the situations I've met these celebrities in has been non-public, like at church, or doing some photographic event. But there are a few actors, actresses and celebrities that I'd like to meet, and primarily because I think that they must be good folk to know.

Today I was watching "The Bucket List", which has two very fine actors, Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. Now, I bet there are quite a few thousand that would like to meet Jack, but I'd like to meet and have coffee with Morgan Freeman. I like pretty much everything he does: "Shawshank Redemption", "Glory", "Driving Miss Daisy", just to name the GOOD ones. But even movies like "Bruce Almighty" and it's spinoff, "Evan Almighty" have a certain quality due to his presence onscreen.

So, here's an open invite to Mr. Freeman for coffee, or a beer sometimes, just to shoot the breeze and become acquainted.....

Sunday, April 04, 2010

The EMPTY tomb....



Imagine seeing two men - one young, and one maybe in his 30's - running through the streets. The older, strong, with leg muscles built for lifting nets laden with fish, runs slowly. The younger, not much more than a boy, runs fast. The younger man gets to the tomb first. But he stops, and peeks in. The older, far more impetuous and overbearing, gets there shortly after the younger, but he doesn't stop at the entrance to the tomb, he RUNS IN!

Today, Easter Sunday, RUN into the tomb! Claim the news of Jesus' Resurrection with joy! Become one of the Easter People!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The tomb........



I cannot think of something to write that fits the mood of Holy Saturday, but the great Christian Apologist and thinker, C.S. Lewis, did. Allow me to share his words:

"On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more. On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall. Death is, in fact, what some modern people call 'ambivalent'. It is Satan's great weapon and also God's great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered."
Miracles, chapter 14

Friday, April 02, 2010

The cross.....



Good Friday - what an ironic name. For on this day, Christians observe the suffering of Jesus on the cross. But sometimes I think Christians tend to sugar-coat what happened. It wasn't until Mel Gibson made his film a few years ago where the ugly details of the crucifxion truly came out. We have the Gospel narratives that tell us what happened, and historicl documents from that period that describe the Roman methods of capital punishment, and from those we can get a visualization of what happened.....

Jesus was stripped of his clothing, chained or lashed to a post or pillar, and then scourged. The cat-o-nine-tails was made of leather straps that containted on them bits of broken bone, pottery, rocks - designed to strip the flesh from the back of the intended victim. It was quite effective. The crown of thorns placed on his head were made from thorns from a local bush, and I've read and heard that there is a bush native to Palestine that has very long, very sharp thorns. Not short, rose-type thorns, but 2-3" long. This was forced down upon his brow. He was beaten, kicked, slapped, punched. He went from one mock trial to another, handed off from Pilate to Herod and back to Pilate, who ordered Jesus to be crucified just to placate the mob. Pilate, who as a practice released one prisoner at Passover, tried to get Jesus released, but the crowd, incited by the zealous religious leaders, called for a murderer instead. Finally, Pilate relented, and ordered Jesus to be crucified. And here was Jesus, probably clothed simply or naked, in front of Pilate and hundreds of people, during this charade, quiet, eyes downcast, and in incredible pain. The loose clothing congealing into the open wounds on his back. The sun beating on him. He was thirsty, probably dehydrated. Then he was pushed, probably knocked over, and given the cross-beam of his own tool of death, placed on his battered back. The pain of that heavy post of lumber must have been excruciating. No wonder, just after walking a short distance, he fell, and the Romans pulled out a man from the crowd to carry it. Jesus' fatigue, caused by loss of blood and incredible pain, must have made his journey to Golgotha long and difficult.

Then, when there, they place the post on the ground, stripping him of all his clothing. He was naked. They layed him on the ground, with those open wounds resting upon the rocks, and stretched out his arms on the beam of wood. Placing their feet on his hands to secure them, they nailed in these iron nails into his wrists, severing the nerves and tendons. They further secured him by tying him up with ropes, and then lifted the beam up and dropped it carelessly on the upright with a morticed joint, dropping it with a thud. The pain from that action would have been enough to make most men pass out. But remember, Jesus was a carpenter, he would have been physically strong. Then they nail his feet together - more pain.

But the suffering continued. The heat, the thirst, the flies. The blood dripping from his crown into his eyes. The constant need to push up with your feet (which have nails driven through them) so you can breathe. And to see your mother there.....

No wonder he died quickly. They pierced his side with a spear, the head of that spear reaching the sac around the heart, and released blood and water. He was dead.

And then the darkness.

And then, the curtain in the Temple, the curtain that divided the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. The curtain that ONLY the high priest could go behind, was torn.....from top to bottom.....

It was finished....

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A different perspective....



As a lifelong Christian, I have always known of Holy Week - the days from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. I have been in church countless times for seeing children carry palms fronds and sing. I have been in the Maundy Thursday service, which has been contemplative and quiet. I have been to Good Friday services where the last words of our Lord are read and reflected upon. And finally, I have sung at Easter sunrise services and regular Easter services, and been part of Easter Egg hunts with my niece, nephews and my own kids.

Today is Maundy Thursday, the day of observance primarily of The Last Supper. As a Lutheran, and as someone who's church regularly observes Communion, this is an important day of observation. However, I look at today, and specifically one event of this "day", as of primary importance. And that event is Jesus praying in Gethsemane.

For some reason this event is overshadowed by the Last Supper. It is passed over quickly as the Gospel narratives move on to Good Friday and the events leading up to the crucifixion. But for me, Jesus' praying is something to reflect on. For you see, I grew up believing that the reason he prayed so earnestly (and as Scripture tells us, with great drops of blood), and in his prayers pleaded that the "cup be taken" from Him, was due to his reticence about being crucified. After all, I'd not want to go through what he went through: the torture, the beatings, the humiliation, and then being nailed and tied to the cross, and dying so exposed.

But in the last few years I gained a different perspective on Jesus' time in the garden: He was pleading not to be saved from being crucified, but He was pleading not to be removed from God. For you see, on the cross, when Jesus cried out "My God! My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?!" he was, at that instant, separated from God. God had turned his back on Jesus. God had finally taken out His wrath for man's sinfulness on Jesus at that moment. And in reading that plea from the cross, I see now that it goes back to that time in the garden, that time of Jesus' praying, to such anguish that He prayed in great drops of blood.

For me, THAT moment in the garden is so profound, and so important. And yet, Jesus finished His prayer "not my will, but THY will be done". And so, on this Maundy Thursday, let us reflect on Jesus' journey to the cross that started in the garden....