As I was planning around the church calendar this year and specifically thinking about Easter, I came across this quote from NT Wright's Surprised by Hope.
I regard it as absurd and unjustifiable that we should spend forty days keeping Lent, pondering what it means, preaching about self denial, being at least a little gloomy, and then bringing it all to a peak with a single day of celebration.
We should be taking steps to celebrate Easter in creative new ways: in art, literature, children’s games, poetry, music, dance, festivals, bells, special concerts, anything that comes to mind.
This is our greatest festival.
Take Christmas away, and in biblical terms you lose two chapters at the front of Matthew and Luke, nothing else. Take Easter away, and you don’t have a New Testament; you don’t have a Christianity.
If Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up. Champagne for breakfast again!
Christian holiness was never meant to be merely negative. Of course you have to weed the garden from time to time; that’s Lent for you. But you don’t want simply to turn the garden back into a neat bed of blank earth. Easter is the time to sow new seeds.
If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off… then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training up things in your life that ought to be blossoming, filling the garden with color and perfume, and in due course bearing fruit.
The forty days of the Easter season ought to be a time to balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving.
How will you celebrate Easter this year? What new thing could you or your church plant?
Last night I attended Rob Bell's "Drops Like
Stars" tour here in Des Moines with a group of friends from The Gateway
Church. It was excellent. Rob is such an incredible communicator and his
ability observe, react and adjust to a brand new audience (he had never been to
Iowa before) was fascinating.
Anyway, if you want to get a feel for the night buy the
For now I wanted to share one story Rob shared last night.
It is the story of Hugh Gallagher who applied to NYU and was asked this
3A. ESSAY: IN ORDER FOR THE
ADMISSIONS STAFF OF OUR COLLEGE TO GET TO KNOW YOU, THE APPLICANT, BETTER, WE
ASK THAT YOU ANSWER THE FOLLOWING QUESTION: ARE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT
EXPERIENCES YOU HAVE HAD, OR ACCOMPLISHMENTS YOU HAVE REALIZED, THAT HAVE
HELPED TO DEFINE YOU AS A PERSON?
Here is how he responded:
I am a dynamic figure, often seen
scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on
my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I
translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage
time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.
I woo women with my sensuous and
godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with
unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an
expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.
Using only a hoe and a large glass
of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin
from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the
Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large
suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after
school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.
I am an abstract artist, a concrete
analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line
of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I
receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend
passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force
demonstration. I bat 400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in
international botany circles. Children trust me.
I can hurl tennis rackets at small
moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and
David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining
room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the
supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once
a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I
successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small
bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.
I balance, I weave, I dodge, I
frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate
in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot
to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a
mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in
San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the
Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have
spoken with Elvis.
My wife is out of town this weekend. She took our oldest
daughter Sophia with her so I’m flying solo with George (2) and Evelyn (7
Today I bravely decided to take the kids to the Blank Park
Zoo. We have a year-long membership, the zoo is only 15 minutes away and it is
a beautiful day. Besides, how hard could it be for a “single” father to take
two kids to the zoo?
I thoroughly packed the diaper bag taking precaution for
every conceivable dilemma, focusing primarily on those that include leaking
body fluids. I timed our trip
perfectly between lunch-time and nap time. And yes, Jessica, I even packed
About half-way to the zoo I realized that I had forgotten
About half-way through the zoo I realized that we had lost
And about half-way home George realized that we had forgotten
to see the Elephants.