By: Matt Sapp
The churchyard cross has seen better days. While it may need fixing, the cross actually fixes us. It reminds us that God's peace is stronger than war and God's love stronger than hatred.
By: Martin Accad
In its near-unanimous denial of the historicity of the crucifixion of Jesus, the Muslim exegetical tradition - not the Quran - stands largely alone. It also rejects the purpose of biblical salvation history.
By: Martin Accad
The Quran reports Jesus' miraculous birth, his ministry of healing and raising people from the dead. What remains hard to grasp is how life and salvation can emerge from death and apparent failure.
By: Colin Harris
The passion drama draws us into its story each season. And we are all players in that drama in our day-to-day lives. Are we like the judgmental religious leaders, the pass-the-buck politicians or the uninformed crowd?
By: Ed Hogan
Foot washing is an intimate act and can be uncomfortable to many participants. For one woman, the act of foot washing became a transformational moment in her life.
By: Jerrod Hugenot
We try our best to pretend that death's sting can be avoided, and we treat Holy Week the same way. We gloss over the pain and loss so we can fast forward to the giddy heights of resurrection morn.
By: Beth Allison Barr
Because of similar traditions about eggs and spring found in ancient cultures, many folks persistently believe that Easter has pagan roots. But rest assured, Easter is a completely Christian holiday.
By: Danny Chisholm
Few Southern Baptist churches spend time reflecting on Lent. We prefer to fast-forward to Easter. Lent is a season that allows us to acknowledge our disappointments and pain.
By: Joe LaGuardia
Lent is a time of preparation and penitence, a time for deep reflection in the depth of winter's cold. Although it is not a common practice in many Baptist churches, Lent can still hold powerful inspiration for a vibrant faith.
By: Tony Peck
European Baptist Federation leaders visited Baptist churches as part of a 1,000-mile journey through Ukraine, a nation rocked by fighting between separatists and government forces.
By: Keith Herron
The season of Lent is a call to spend time in quietness and self-denial, as we escape life's daily cacophony of sounds that drown our inner silence and keep us from hearing God's voice.
Let’s take another look at what Jesus said. Of these three phrases – “I am in my Father, you are in me, I am in you” – if you had to reduce it down to the one that means the most to you, which one would it be? “I am in you,” Jesus said to his disciples, and to you and me, “I am in you.” Isn’t that the phrase you would choose? “I am in you.” What does it mean – not theologically, not analytically – but personally, inwardly, to have the Spirit of Jesus in you? Not what it means to the person sitting next to you in that pew, but to you, that the Spirit of Jesus is in you?
Why did Jesus appear to the disciples the same day God raised him from the dead? He loved them too much to let them wander hopelessly through the cemetery of broken dreams. He was as anxious to turn their grief to joy as he had done for Mary earlier that day.[ ]Jesus also wanted his followers to know he cared for them even though they had abandoned him the night he was arrested and the next day when he was crucified. The resurrected Jesus was still their Good Shepherd, something they needed to know before they tried to sleep another night.
John has come to know and believe that faith is not an easily-packaged reality. It is not the same, exactly, for everybody... no one-size-fits-all. There are different levels and types of faith, different layers, if you will, to one’s understanding and ability to believe... which, I would imagine, is just as true of us who are gathered here today.[John} wants his readers to be encouraged in knowing that whatever level of faith is theirs, it is still regarded as true faith in the eyes of the kingdom of heaven. He wants them to believe that their faith has validity, no matter how deep or wide it may be, because they have believed even when they haven’t seen the Risen Christ.
As I wrote in my column this week, the early church theologians such as Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa and John Chrysostom sometimes interpreted Easter as a joke. They didn’t mean this in an irreverent or dismissive way, the way we might describe something poorly done as “a joke.” Instead, they quite literally felt that Easter was a holy joke, the moment when God played a joke on death itself, turning a grim time of mourning into a festive time of laughter. The early Church recognized that the season of Easter was a time of celebration, for praise, for joy.
Practice resurrection. That’s our gospel today … to go from here to practice resurrection! There’s nothing shy at all about this response. We are to live fully in God’s thunderous YES! We are to live God’s resounding affirmation of the world and all God’s children who need God’s offer of love and reconciliation.
Then it dawned on me. The empty tomb is a vital part of this story, which is why all four gospel writers describe it in detail. However, after God raised Jesus from the dead, that tomb was not empty because now it was filled with hope.
So let’s consider this... During these past six weeks, as we’ve made the Lenten journey with Jesus, we have heard what he said about temptation and thirst and birth and sight and the resurrection and the life and servanthood and betrayal and the kingdom. Today, we hear what he said about fear. And what did he say? Are you ready for this? He said, “Do not be afraid; go and tell...”
[O]n that first Easter morning, Mary was awaken to a faith in the resurrected Christ when Jesus called out her name, “Mary!” The Eternal Word spoke a personal word that finally aroused Mary from the darkness of her night and brought her into the light of a new morning. It was a new world in which sin, pain, suffering and death could no longer contain the Son of God in a tomb of their making. Yes, on Friday afternoon, those powers of darkness seemingly gained an upper hand, but on that third day, when a new morning was dawning, God opened up the tomb and called out, “Good Morning, Jesus!”
It’s not a romantic story, but it is a love story. It’s the story of someone who loved Jesus almost as much as Jesus loves us. Mary went back to the disciples and said, “I have seen the Lord!” and in that moment became the first Easter preacher ever, the first person to share the astonishing good news that Christ had risen from the dead. For Mary and those disciples things would never be the same. If resurrection was real, then death was no longer an enemy. If resurrection was real then life had won the day. If resurrection was real then anything was possible.
By: Matt Sapp
Many of us live as if faith was only an intellectual exercise, but faith is more than intellectual assent to a set of propositions. Here are three things we often forget about faith.
By: Larry Coleman
Baptists have their own informal liturgical calendar. The more you embed your life in the Christian calendar, the more meaningful the gospel will become. It's an invitation to experience all of Christ repeatedly.
By: EthicsDaily Staff
More Baptist churches are observing Lent, which begins on March 5 this year. Learn how one Baptist pastor and his church began to recognize Lent in their services.
By: Preston Clegg
Does your church observe Lent in the songs you sing during worship? In a season that calls us into a deeper reality, we should be intentional about the music we employ in worship.
By: EthicsDaily Staff
Although few Baptists observe Lent, we can learn a great deal from this tradition. EthicsDaily.com has a Lenten Bible study with contributions from international Baptists.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” That’s the message of Easter, although from an unlikely source. God is always using endings to create something new. As people of faith, [the Israelites] never came to the end of the road. Always and at all times, there was more, even when it seemed improbable or impossible.I believe this is the message of Easter, too, and I cannot think of one we need more. Easter is about starting over when you thought all hope was gone. We, too, believe in a God who makes all things new.
Once upon a time the world was a song. Then it all went wrong. Truth be told it didn’t just go wrong last year. Or ten years ago. Or in 19th century France when Victor Hugo penned the novel, Les Miserable. According to the Apostle Paul, it all went wrong eons ago at the beginning of time, when a man named Adam triggered something eventually called “the Fall.” Even so, God would not let his dream of people living graciously under his reign—his dream of the Kingdom of God--completely die. Every now and then one of God’s prophets would remind God’s people of his ongoing vision for his people. Isaiah was one of these prophets, and when Israel lay in ruins, God used Isaiah to describe the day when God would reverse the curse of the Fall and restore the world to its original splendor.
There was a spirit of expectation that drove the eighth-day thinking that grew out of the post-resurrection appearances of the Lord. These provided not only the proof of the resurrection, but also the lively expectation that the risen Christ would be present with Christians as they gathered. What would happen in us if we had that kind of expectation, whether real or symbolically? What kind of new spirit would enliven us, giving us energy and imagination if every time we gathered, we imagined Jesus was present while we worshiped?
I’m glad that people come to church on Easter. I’m glad that we dress up, and sing the familiar songs, and say the familiar words. But this morning I’m thinking about those people who didn’t come to church because they weren’t sure they would be welcome. They think church is for good people, righteous people, who wear the right clothes and believe the right things. I hope when you see them next time you will tell them that Jesus is Lord of all, and that everybody is welcome in his church, that Christ is risen, the stone has been rolled away, and the life-giving, life changing power of God is now available to everyone—every one.
Easter Sunday is observed on the first Sunday after the full moon that falls on or after March 21. While we don't control Easter, it should control the way we view and live our lives.
Only God knows how many days you have left in your life. But only you can write the final chapter of your life story.
Thank goodness for Thomas and his need for experiential proof. Poor guy, he has gotten a bad rap for a long time and really, his demand for proof provides us just what we need to explore our own doubts, our questions, and it exposes the disciples very human fear.
Easter is more than our fears, more than our deaths. It’s about life and about living.
Easter assures us there is no situation our faith cannot embrace and change for the better if we let it. If God can reach into a sealed and guarded tomb and give life back to his crucified son, then God can help us with any problem we are facing.
You and I are here today because that tomb is empty. The one who is there no longer stands behind us but before us and calls each one of us by name.
Some things are so important, so foundational to our very being that they should always be remembered.
By faith we do believe that the resurrection is true, but if we are honest, at first among the people who were closest to Jesus, it was only marginally disruptive. But then the aftershocks start to come.
The risen Jesus is proof of God's life and God's love. The risen Jesus is proof of God's power. And the risen Jesus is the best evidence for hope despite the tomb-like circumstances and situations of life.
On this Easter Sunday, let us be proclaimers of the way and be living signs that announce to all creation the good news that “Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed!”
The four Gospels and Paul's accounts of Jesus' resurrection don't agree with each other. What do we do about that? We can try to reconcile it, reject it or experience it.
In a speech given 45 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. called the U.S. to account for its military adventurism, materialism and racism. We have a long way to go, but his words are still true.
When adverse conditions fall into our lives, we can celebrate because God is in control. Hope is the one ingredient that keeps the struggling moving forward.
The throngs cheered as Jesus entered Jerusalem. But he soon disappointed them by not validating their nationalistic dreams, supporting their claims of exclusivity or endorsing their political exceptionalism.
If you ever feel like throwing in the towel during Lent, remember that these days of self-reflection and self-sacrifice help us see the season's larger purpose.
Joy always accompanies a clear sense of identity, purpose and direction. Do you have this kind of joy? You can if you will let Christ open your eyes so you can see the difference you can make in this world.
Our new Easter clothes declare we can be changed from our drab, sinful selves into our new, truest selves by the greatest fashion designer of all time, Jesus Christ.
Think about all of the places in the resurrection stories in the Gospels. The angel says, “Be not afraid.” Resurrection changes everything. If Christ has really conquered death, then what is there to be afraid of, except those things that would, in some way, diminish our relationship with Christ and diminish our faith so that we don’t live as closely to Christ as we would like to live.
Wise churches don't lament the disparity in attendance between Easter and other days. What is it that brings such a crowd? The recent tornadoes and the royal wedding give us a hint.
Easter is a bittersweet celebration ... it’s a sorrow to be sure, but it’s a sorrow swallowed up by a greater joy. Both are necessary in order for faith to be honest and real.
Easter is about starting over when you thought all hope was gone because, as Christians, grief is always linked to hope, just as it was for our ancient ancestors. We, too, believe in a God which makes all things new.
Do you realize that today changes everything? Grieve if you must, but you cannot grieve as do the rest who have no hope. Because Easter, Easter says “hope has won the day.”
(RNS) This weekend, Jeanne O’Hair, her friends and family will raise their voices in Easter hymns “as the spirit leads us.”
(RNS) As Christians worldwide celebrate Easter, they will follow a familiar chronology: Jesus rose from the dead on “the third day.”
By raising Jesus from the dead, God defeated death and secured for all who have faith the gift of eternal life. And, unfortunately, that's where it stops for many Christians.
WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama said Jesus’ death and resurrection on Easter “puts everything else in perspective,” at a White House event.
Four British churches have been tangled in red tape that's likely to prevent them from holding their Easter procession on the street on Good Friday. Officials said they were supposed to apply five weeks before the event.
Do we shortchange a reality like Easter by thinking of it as a holiday or even as a historical event? Though rooted in history, our faith looks to eternity, where the mystery of God and of life has a timeless quality.
The crowds following Jesus saw him as more than doing God's saving work only through individuals. They believed salvation and redemption worked in religious communities, economic orders and political systems.
WASHINGTON (RNS) A small band of Christians is planning a rally in Washington, D.C., in a bid to make Good Friday a national holiday.
(RNS) Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and rose from the dead on “the third day,” in the words of the ancient Nicene Creed. Or was he?
The Civil War, which began 150 years ago, did not occur in a vacuum. It was part of a crisis born out of the horrors of slavery. The anniversary is a good time for us to recall the lessons – painful and joyful – of the past.
Even when we’re doing the will of God, we live in “in-between” times. Life, we discover, is not so much an uninterrupted continuum as much as it is a series of single moments strung together like pearls on a string.
We Baptists are not a creedal people. That means that Baptist churches do not hold to a centralized, orthodox theological statement with which we all agree. Baptists tend to be stubborn that way.
A pastor quizzed a group of preschoolers about the meaning of Easter and a precocious preschooler raised his hand politely and when called upon, he answered, “I know! That was the day Jesus became famous!”
A Texas church is giving away $300 gift bags and 15 used cars this Easter weekend. It's a lame-brained idea that cheapens Christ to lure people through the church doors.
Two crowds responded to Jesus. The first hailed him triumphantly as king, but another would later call for his death. We still follow the cries of the crowd today. Which crowd will be our crowd?
A recent survey from the Barna Group revealed that less than half of Americans connect Easter with the resurrection of Christ. Meanwhile, 2 percent even thought that Easter was about Jesus' birth.
Forty days focused on Lent might be just what we – wealthy and powerful global Baptists – need to reconnect with a more robust faith that remembers those who suffer from poverty, injustice and violence.
For society's extraordinary individuals who ruined our global economy, violated human rights with torture and used politics for personal gain, it seemed that Lent failed. It's up to the ordinary among us to manifest God's love.
We ask Jesus to come to us and show us his wounds, to prove to us that he is alive and is willing to invest himself in who we are and what we do. We want to know for certain that Jesus will walk with us and encourage us in our faith and in the journey of life. We ask for Jesus to do this, and because he is One who loves us beyond all human abilities to measure, he walks up to us, shows us the wounds in his hands, reveals to us the gash in his side, and in his woundedness he says to us, “Follow me.”
We’re rescued. We are reconciled to God. We are born again. Born anew. Paul reflected on it in Colossians when he wrote, “For Jesus delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.... And through Him [God] reconciles all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet Jesus has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach” (Colossians 1:13-14, 20-22).
Jesus Christ is alive and present in this world today. If the story of the empty tomb doesn’t really do it for you, what if you simply prayed, “Christ, be real to me today.” Would you take that challenge to say, “Jesus, be real to me today. Lift my heart. Bless my spirit. Give me the peace that I need. Give me the joy that I have never had.” That is a very dangerous prayer to pray because Christ is real, and when you least expect it, Christ may answer that prayer.
Follow Mark’s example and share your faith. Tell them what the empty tomb means to you. Talk about your faith in a loving God who walks every step of your journey with you providing the strength, courage, wisdom and confidence you need to endure and overcome life’s hardships. Be specific and tell them about a time in your life when God took the worst circumstance in your life and made good come from it. Tell them about the re-birth of your faith.
Here’s the Good News: Even though Mark’s ending to his gospel is enigmatic and all-too-brief, the angel shares a message from Jesus to the disciples who abandoned him and to Peter who had denied him, “I’ll meet you in Galilee. We began there together; there we will begin anew.” In Easter, there’s always time for things to begin anew.
An Episcopal priest was defrocked recently for wanting to remain a Muslim. In our live-and-let-live culture, some may see this as a sensitivity issue. However, placing Christianity and Islam in a blender to make a spiritual smoothie does violence to both.
What do plastic grass, chocolate bunnies, colored eggs and marshmallow chickens have to do with Easter? Rather than fret society's traditions, let's embrace the simple truths of our faith.
Jesus made it clear that the mission of his followers was to love, forgive and reconcile. Some Christians, however, distort the central message of Christianity's leader by stirring up anger against Jewish people.
Other than the role of Judas, the most challenging part to fill in First Baptist Church of Pensacola's Easter pageant is the role of the thief. Few have volunteered for the part twice, but you can't have a true Easter pageant without him.
What does resurrection mean for Christians? It means Jesus lives. It means God's way prevails. And it means the life we know is not all there is to life.
Jesus, the person and the place where God is met, is our temple. He taught us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. We are quick to settle for just loving ourselves.
As Christians, we are particularly guilty of assuming that all things should work out for us. And, when we and others encounter life’s struggles and tragedies, instead of asking and struggling with deeper theological questions with sheer honesty, we often voice standard, but hollow expressions about life and its uncertainties.
In the season of Lent, we honor the proper place for the cry of lament. The acknowledgment of universal disappointment, heartache and suffering experienced by us and all the people of the world is a spiritual necessity.
A photo arrived in this morning’s inbox from last night’s Ash Wednesday service—a picture of me making the sign of the cross in ashes on the forehead of my 17-year-old daughter.
The preparation for Easter became known as Lent, which comes from the Old English word "lencten," meaning "lengthen" as the days do as winter gives way to spring.
As Easter approaches this year, Australian Christians and Australian churches will retell and reflect on the great gospel events--the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we look back on the gospel story that, more than any other, gives meaning and purpose to all we do, it is important also to look to the present and future and to re-examine our motives and priorities in the light of the central gospel event.
Sunday Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is viewed by believers just about everywhere as the foundation of Christianity. They assert that by raising Jesus from the dead God has defeated death and secured for all who have faith the gift of eternal life.