Archive for March, 2016

TMI

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

TMI. “Too much information.” This expression is used when someone tells you more about themselves than you wanted to know–about their relationships, for example, or their health.

I would argue that we have too much information about the Resurrection–which is why the various New Testament accounts disagree in many details: how many angels were at the tomb on Easter morning, whether Jesus in his spiritual form could be touched, etc.

Yet the fact that we have all this information does, I would argue, add to the credibility of the witnesses. For disagreements among witnesses about details of an experience are common. Court cases frequently have conflicting testimony about the simplest events.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was not a simple event. All the more reason to expect different stories from different witnesses. All the more reason to expect that the new life of Jesus will remain a cherished miracle beyond our grasp. —J. Douglas Ousley


By God’s Gift

Friday, March 25th, 2016

On Ash Wednesday, the blessing of the ashes concludes with these words: “that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life.”

I don’t know whether non-Christians receive a life after death; I suppose I believe they do, though they may have to go through a period of post-mortem preparation for the life of Heaven.

But what is relevant to Christians is that eternal life is a gift of God. It’s not something we merit; it’s not something we can expect automatically. It’s a gift.

And that gift is part of the reason we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter morning. For he is, as St. Paul said, “the first fruits of them that slept”–the first person to rise into the glory of eternity, foreshadowing the potential we all are now given to inherit eternal life. So, as the hymn says, “Jesus lives, now no longer death enthralls us–Alleluia!” —J. Douglas Ousley


Only in New York

Friday, March 18th, 2016

As I have noted in past posts, our associate rector and I now offer blessings on Tuesday mornings from 9 to 9:30 to anyone passing by the front steps of the church.

Last Tuesday, I was on the steps, and so many people wanted to be blessed and prayed for that there was actually a small line. It struck me later that this was typical of New York City. When people see a line outside a store or a restaurant, they are tempted to join. If it’s worth waiting for, they reason, it must be good. —J. Douglas Ousley


First Things

Monday, March 14th, 2016

As we make plans for all the observances of Holy Week, there is one abiding lesson that we all have to re-learn. Whatever liturgies we choose, the Cross and Resurrection are central to our faith.

Beyond the church programs and projects, more than the meetings and plans, besides the priestly and the prophetical, we remember the death and risen life of Jesus of Nazareth.

All churchy events are eclipsed by the reality of our sin and the atonement of the Cross. So we are drawn to the final hours of Christ, our beloved Messiah. —J. Douglas Ousley


Religion and Politics

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Among the many confusions of this year’s Presidential race is the influence of the candidates’ religious beliefs on the voters. The most public Christian, Ted Cruz appeals mostly to very conservative Christians. Donald Trump is a professed mainline Christian (with some Episcopal connections, though he is Presbyterian) but few in the Protestant churches seem to be rallying to his side because of his beliefs.

Hillary Clinton is Methodist; her Christian connection may be helping her with minority voters since Bernie Sanders’ background is Jewish. Neither of them, however, talk much about their personal faith.

Since the rest of the field seem irrelevant to the final election, there are few conclusions yet to be drawn about the effect of religion on this contest. That said, prayer for our country would still seem to be a good idea.

J. Douglas Ousley