You Are My Sunshine! – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim Woodrum

John 20:1-18

When I began to pray with this morning’s Gospel lesson from John, I was struck at first by two sentences: “Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.” The feeling these sentences evoked for me was kenopsia. In his book of neologisms, author John Koenig defines his word kenopsia as: “the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet—a school hallway in the evening, an unlit office on a weekend, vacant fairgrounds—an emotional afterimage that makes it seem not just empty but hyper-empty, with a total population in the negative, who are so conspicuously absent they glow like neon signs” (from Greek, kenosis “emptiness” + opsia “seeing”).[i]

Have you ever experienced kenopsia or “emptiness-seeing?” The sense of kenopsia often takes me back to a memory from April of 2019. My father had just passed away, following my mother’s death 11 months earlier. As the extended family left, leaving me behind after the funeral, I found myself sitting alone in the den of my childhood home. Surrounded by the echoes of my upbringing, I listened to the air conditioner cycle on and off, a sound all too familiar. The house smelled just as it always had, and atop the dryer lay a stack of bath towels, neatly folded, waiting to be placed in the linen closet upstairs—a task meant for a day that never came.

Despite the comfort of familiarity, an overwhelming difference cast a shadow over everything: the absence of my parents. Gone were the aromas of dinner cooking on the stove. The evening news or my mother’s favorite true crime shows no longer filled the air with sound. Though the house was crowded with remnants of my parents’ lives, it felt profoundly empty. This emptiness wasn’t just a lack of presence; it was an active, almost tangible void. The experience was as fascinating as it was sad and unsettling. Read More

Resurrection Knowing – Br. Keith Nelson

Br. Keith NelsonJohn 20:1-18

Running in the dark
a stone out of place
a broken seal
an open door.

Sweat evaporating on necks and ankles chills the skin of of two men who followed Him everywhere.

Tears well up and spill over in the eyes of a woman who loved him above all else.

Hearts beat faster
hands tremble
reason flutters, falters, and fails

in the face of a
newfound,
deafening
absence
where He who said I AM seemed not to be

and yet
Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Words whispered in the beginning return
a new song gathers within the silence. Read More

Calling by Name – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke Ditewig

John 20:1-18

Jesus came standing next to Mary Magdalene, but she did not know it was him. When Jesus called Mary by name, she recognized him. A most brief and beautiful portrait, so intimate, so familiar. Mary felt she had lost everything: her Lord, her friend, her way. Called by her name, Mary was found; she regained sight, saw Jesus beside her.

Jesus calls us by name. Some people hear God speak literally, audibly, as Mary did. That is not my experience. If it is, I missed it. If you experience that, be grateful. I do hear God call me by name, and it is powerful, resurrection power, like what Mary experienced. I bet you have experienced it too. Read More

Experience the Resurrection! – Br. Curtis Almquist

John 20:1-18

Jesus greets Mary Magdalene in the garden near his tomb.  He has come back from the dead, alive, resurrected, and yet he is very wounded.  Jesus’ body is still wounded by the scourgings that preceded his crucifixion, and the horrific piercing wounds to his side and to his hands, hanging from the cross.  None of these wounds is healed.  And Jesus’ heart is also wounded by the betrayal and abandonment of his closest friends, the disciples who literally left Jesus hanging.  The women, who were there when their Lord was crucified, witnessed it all, a horrific experience.  And this surely leaves the women wounded by the trauma. Meanwhile the disciples are hiding – hiding in their own fear, sorrow, and shame – and this, too, shows a wounding.[i]  No one can hurt us like we can hurt ourselves, when we become our own worst enemy.  On this day of resurrection, everyone in the Gospel story is not okay.  Everyone is wounded, and this is likely true for many of us here. We can simultaneously acknowledge Jesus’ resurrection and, at the same time, acknowledge that everything is not all right in our world or in our own lives.  Many of us here today may bear the wounds of life, of one sort or another.  Bishop Barbara Harris says, “We are a resurrection people living in a Good Friday world.” Read More

Those Five Words – Br. James Koester

Br. James KoesterActs 10: 34-43
Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15: 1-11
John 20: 1-18

Something happened. Something happened and something is happening.

Something happened on a hill, in a garden and in an upper room long ago in Jerusalem. Something is happening on beaches, in churches, shopping malls, hotels and university campuses today; in villages we have never heard of and cities and towns where many of us have never been and where most of us will probably never go.

Something happened and something is happening.

What happened, on first glance, was not all that unusual. It was a brief encounter between a grief stricken woman and a caring gardener. But what actually happened changed lives and set in motion a tidal wave that continues to toss and turn people nearly 2000 years later. A question asked. A name spoken. A pair of eyes opened. A command given. A breathless run taken. Read More

Resurrection Power – Br. Curtis Almquist

John 20:1-18

The body would have begun decomposing very soon after death, both because the Jews did not practice embalming, and because of the Middle Eastern heat.  The normal practice was to wash, then anoint the body with spices, including myrrh and aloes, to mask the smell of death.  Then the body would have been wrapped, head to toe, with linen swaths and finally, the body shrouded with a linen garment before it was placed in the tomb.  But nothing could mask the grief, then as now: the sadness, the tears, the questions without answers.  All of this would have gone on during the visitation at the grave, where they rolled the stone away.  I’m not speaking here about Jesus’ death; rather the death of Lazarus – Jesus’ beloved friend, brother to Mary and Martha.  Jesus visits the tomb of Lazarus, and it is Jesus who weeps.1

This story of the death Lazarus is told in the Gospel according to John not that long before the story recording Jesus’ own death.   In the case of Lazarus, Jesus looks into the tomb and proclaims with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  And you may remember what happens: there’s a resurrection.  Lazarus is brought back to life!  Read More

Easter Innocence – Br. Curtis Almquist

John 20:1-18

We have this old phrase, “misery loves company.” Peter and the Beloved Disciple were keeping company in their misery, but not for the same reasons. The Beloved Disciple was grief stricken over the horrendous crucifixion of his dearest friend, Jesus, with whom he had stayed until it was finished. Peter, on the other hand, was frightened and appalled by his own betrayal of Jesus, whom he had denied and abandoned from the bitter outset. The two disciples were together but in very different places when they hear the news from Mary Magdalene that Jesus’ body is gone. They run towards the tomb independently, no surprise. The Beloved Disciple would be ecstatic, remembering Jesus’ promise that if he were killed, he would come back to life; he would be resurrected. Peter, on the other hand, would be in agony. He, too, had heard Jesus’ prediction about his resurrection. But Jesus’ resurrection for Peter would be so very, very difficult because of his having to face Jesus. Peter would need to ask Jesus’ forgiveness… again. Not that Jesus would not forgive Peter, but that he would, as Jesus had undoubtedly forgiven him so many times before. How many times had Jesus forgiven Peter already? More than Peter could imagine.[i] You may recall Jesus had renamed Peter “his rock,” not just because he was so strong, but because he was so hard-headed.[ii] Peter here is running in very familiar territory as he races to Jesus’ tomb, only this time it’s much worse. This time, Peter has crossed a line; he now is more a follower of Judas and than Jesus.

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