Monday, April 19, 2010


I've been following the events surrounding the eruption of the Icelandic glacier/volcano Eyjafjallajokull. The name of the glacier itself demands attention. I'm glad I'm typing the name and not saying it. Check out Eyjafjallajokull on Wikipedia to get a pronunciation sample. Not that it will help you any. It made me more confused. What a name.

On March 30 there was an eruption of this volcano on the island of fire and ice. I don't remember hearing or reading anything about the eruption then. However, a later eruption on April 14 has led to all kinds of attention. The ash from that eruption cause much of Northern Europe to be left in a cloud of dust and forced the cancellation of thousands of airline flights. Only five days later are flights beginning to take off again. European airlines are losing billions of Euros because of the grounding of their fleets and thousands of travelers have been left stranded. It will take weeks to get everything straightened out. You just never know.

Today I read an article about how insurance will not cover airlines for this event. And there is little hope that any such insurance would be available in the future: or at least insurance they could afford. The purpose of insurance is to protect you from life's "You-just-never-knows." However, by definition you don't see those "you-never-knows" coming. Too often that "you-never-know" becomes a "its-never-covered."

The Bible contains many "You-just-never-knows." Many of God actions and miracles are recorded. My favorite is Jesus' Resurrection which was something Jesus' followers should have seen coming. When you read the four Gospels you think to yourself: "Why didn't they understand? Why didn't they see this coming?" But they didn't. They couldn't imagine for a moment the Messiah winning by dying. And even though they were warned, they just were not capable of even beginning to understand that Jesus could be raised and just what it would mean.

People don't recognize Jesus at first in many of the post-resurrection accounts. It's possible that somehow a resurrected Jesus is changed in such a way that his appearance is different. But, I also think Jesus is not recognized by Mary or by Peter or by men he walked with to Emmaus because they couldn't get a grasp of even the possibility that he could have been resurrected. Really, they should have known all along.

In my lifetime I've read about Mount St. Helens in Washington and Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines. It would make sense that such an event could happen in Iceland. But while volcanoes bring to mind images of Indiana Jones, the ancient city of Pompeii, and very, very hot lava... it doesn't bring to mind the complete stoppage of the airline industry. You just never know.

Eyjafjallajokull reminds us of two things: We are very small in the face of the powers of nature... which in turn is very small in the face of God. "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn us back to dust, and say, 'Turn back, you mortals (Psalm 90:2-3).'" We also are reminded that we should keep awake because the "You-just-never-know" can and will always happen. This is not a lesson in fear though, but of grace. If we are not awake we may miss the Lord, who we don't expect. If we are not awake we may miss the God moments happening all the time. We are dust and God is everlasting, but through Christ he chooses to be in relationship with us and chooses to give us the Kingdom. Don't say no one ever told you.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

This is the Night

When God creates the first person in Genesis, two actions where necessary. God molded the first man's body from the dirt. The body was created. But that was not enough, God then breathed into the first human's nostrils to give him life. A human was created: body and soul.

Those of us who have lost loved ones to death understand how body and soul works. At the moment of death, or at the wake or viewing that follows a few day later, we can see our loved one's body. But the life is not there.

This happened to Jesus when he died on the cross. "Into your hands I commend my spirit." The body that is removed from the cross and buried in the new tomb is a body without spirit... without soul... without the breath of God.

This is the night that breath returns to his body. At some point before sunrise on the day after the Sabbath, Jesus is resurrected. Christ is risen! His residence is no longer the grave. He is resurrected: body/soul/spirit/breath. When the women come to the tomb the body is gone and the space is empty.

He is not the only person reported to have been brought back to life after death. A royal official's son, Lazarus and Jairus' daughter are just some of the examples of people being brought back to life. Medical science today also gives us examples of people being clinically dead for several minutes only to be brought back to life.

Jesus' resurrection is different. The resurrection of our Lord is a new creation and defeats death forever. Jesus will never die again. This is the night that new life entered his body. Baptized into the body of Christ we are promised to live this new life as well. His resurrection life will be our resurrection life.

That is the hope we life up as we gaze upon the body of a dear loved one. Their's is the promise of new life: Resurrection... body/soul/spirit/breath. This is the night that all began.