• Engage

    Some Things I Learned this Easter from Mary Magdalene

    Mary Magdalene was one of the eyewitnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I reflected on her story (Luke 8:1-2; Matthew 27:55-56, 60-61; 28:1; Mark 16:1-5; Luke 24:1-11; John 20:2, 11-18) this Easter, I gleaned some insights into my life. First, her story.   Mary Magdalene was a woman from the city of Magdala who had seven demons in her. She must have endured much torture, anguish, and turmoil as she housed these demons. I can imagine how painful it was to be an outcast of society and live a miserable life. But then she met Jesus. Jesus miraculously cast out the demons and healed her. He brought wholeness…

  • Engage

    Women, the Resurrection, and the #MeToo Movement

    Do you know who consistently appears in all Gospel accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection? Was it the apostle Peter? No. How about the beloved disciple, John? No. Then it must have been Jesus’s half-brother, James? No again. The person recorded to have seen it all—Jesus’s crucifixion, burial, and resurrection—was not a man; it was a woman, Mary Magdalene. She not only witnessed everything, she was the first person to see the risen Lord (John 20:14–18). Thus she is “honored and revered as the first messenger of Christ’s resurrection—the apostle of the apostles.”[1] Are you shocked and surprised? Does this make you scratch your head in confusion? Are you…

  • Engage

    Easter: A Holiday of Hiding?

    Soon people across the globe will participate in Easter egg hunts. South Africa heralds the world’s largest, hiding over 100,000 eggs and tiny treasures. Soon, people of Jewish heritage will participate in the Seder as part of their Passover celebration. Adults will hide a piece of matzah called the afikoman  and kiddos will hunt it down for some splendid prize. Soon people across the world will attend resurrection services, many trying to understand the fascination with hiding. Do you feel Jesus is hiding? Life’s gotten rough. Infertility persists. Bankruptcy hit. Addiction ravages. Abuse resumes. Unemployment continues. And it feels like Jesus is playing heavenly-hide-n-seek to test your sincerity and spiritual…

  • Heartprints

    Easter Follow-Up Opportunity

    Easter Sunday was a little over a week ago, but that doesn’t mean its accompanying opportunities have ended. Chances are you saw some new faces in your church or in your children’s ministry programs. Let me encourage you to follow-up with them. If you are a Sunday school teacher or helper, then this post is especially for you. You have a chance to reach your visitors and their families in ways that your church staff members may not be able. As a volunteer, you have a connection with them because you have already interacted with them. As a lay member, you are not as intimidating as a pastor. So, if it…

  • Engage

    Pain and Redemption, Loss and Hope: Ponderings on the Significance of the Resurrection

    My earliest memories of Easter include new church dresses with hats and patton shoes, intense searches for plastic eggs with the rare $2 bill stuffed inside, and loads of Cadbury chocolate, complete with the resulting stomach-ache. The day came and went with a little bit of anticipation, but nominal impact on my day-to-day life. As I grew up, the cognitive recognition that Easter celebrated something important, something critical, something that all of reality hinges upon, was not lost on me. However, the disconnect between head and heart can sometimes keep the significance of an event at a distance. I would reflect on its importance for a moment, perhaps at a…

  • A drawing of a faceDescription generated with high confidence
    Heartprints

    Good Friday? Good for who????

    Think of it. The blackest, darkest Friday of all time. Christ is hanging, suffering unbearably on a cross. This is the day labeled Good Friday by those who claim to love Him most. “Good for who???” might be a question that pops into the mind of a child who has been taught from birth that Jesus loves everyone and is always good.  Even teens or adults who have not grown up hearing the full story of Jesus might look at the suffering Savior and His weeping friends and ask the same question.  I certainly had questions at the age of 6. I was coloring a picture in Sunday School of…

  • I am Barabbas
    Engage

    I am Barabbas

    As we begin to walk through the holiest of days of the Church, we will take time to recall the most fundamental truths that make Christians Christians and turn sinners into saints. We will revisit in various ways, through many different traditions, the events leading to the suffering, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, the son of God, the son of man. As we look at the Gospel narratives, we are introduced to a full cast of characters whom we only know because of the parts they played in this great story of redemption. I think of Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who, though having repeatedly declared Jesus innocent, still condemned…

  • Engage

    The Transforming Love of the Father

    It cuts like a dagger—the pain of rejection piercing deep from someone we love and serve. We feel it when our child ignores us, too preoccupied to notice our presence. We sense it when someone we serve makes a sharp turn in the other direction, intentionally avoiding our company. We notice it when a friend, once warm and safe, turns strangely cold. Last week we welcomed spring break with unexpectedly warm weather and uninterrupted time as a family. My husband, who normally works many early mornings and late nights, had the whole week off. Our toddler son soaked up every minute. At first I relished the break. A few moments…

  • Engage

    A Promise from God

    Whether our requests are big or small, most of us have wondered at one time or another if God hears our prayers. Does God really care? He’s Creator of the universe. He’s busy dealing with wars and famine and asteroids and floods. He’s leading an army of angels, and He’s helping people who lost loved ones in tragedies. With everything going on in this crazy, mixed-up world, does God want to hear and respond to our prayers, even those for a new job, loneliness, a persistent cough, or help paying bills? In a word: Yes! God promises that His powerful Presence resides with His children through the toughest of times…

  • Engage

    Anticipating Holy Week – Preparing Through Lent

      We are in the middle of the Lenten season. Lent– in the traditional Church Calendar begins with Ash Wednesday – being reminded with the ashes of our mortality. Genesis 3:19 “for dust you are and to dust you will return”…and continues through 40 days before Easter. It is a season of reflecting, recalibrating, returning – accompanying Jesus to the cross on Good Friday then, as Holy Week concludes, celebrating His resurrection on Easter Sunday. As we consider this Easter story, a lamb appears in God’s narrative toward the beginning, throughout and is present at the conclusion.  The lamb in Exodus 12:1-13 was the sacrificial Passover lamb. One lamb was…