During college, when asked why there are different Gospel versions of Jesus’ death and resurrection, my campus minister described it this way. She said, “Have you ever sat around a campfire with friends and tried to recall last year’s toga party? Would you all have the same story of what happened?” This was interesting partly because somehow she knew we were at the toga party, but more so because it made perfect sense! Of course we would not have the same story, even though we could agree on a few particulars such as time and place of the party. All of us who were there would recall specific details unique to our experience such as who we talked with, where we stood, what we observed, a joke we heard, and when we left.
Still, reading the different accounts of the death and resurrection of Christ, we can wonder why the disciples could not just agree on how it happened. In fact, there have been a few wayward theologians over the centuries that have tried to do just that, compress the stories into one unified story. Others have used the inconsistencies between the stories to disprove the disciples’ authenticity. An argument that goes, “If the story is true why can’t the folks that experienced it at least agree on how it happened?” However, ask any detective and they will say if a group of “witnesses” all have the exact same story down to the letter, something is too good to be true. Quite the opposite of having one unified story, four different experiences makes the disciples’ accounts far more approachable and authentic.
Leaving different interpretations of the resurrection is nothing less than the work of the Holy Spirit. It reminds us that we all experience God differently and while Luke has Jesus appearing to disciples walking down the road, John has the resurrected Jesus appearing at a cookout on a beach. Both experiences are just as valid. God meets us where we are, even showing up in a locked room or a locked heart as Thomas can attest. One theme that does not change with the various tellings, however, is the new life Christ brings. That always has a way of surprising us in the early morning dawn, just when the graveyard seems to have the last word.
As we enter into Holy Week take some time to revisit these stories and their particularities. Something I have been doing over the last few years is reading them side by side paying attention to where I find myself in the story. I have yet to be drawn to the same Gospel two years in a row, or to the same character. Life changes and so does the way we relate to the resurrection narrative and our place in the story. Try to hear each Gospel account on its own terms. Pay attention to where you find inconsistencies and deviations in the story. It means Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John wanted it that way. What might they be trying to tell us? Where do you find new life?
Blessings as we approach Easter,
The Mission & Outreach Committee reports the following amount of food delivered to Crisis Assistance Ministry for February: 12 bags.
Youth Pine Needle Sale Saturday, March 10th & 17th 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. $4.50/bale
The New Hope Youth Group is having a Pine Needle Sale on Saturday, March 10th & 17th. The cost is $4.50 a bale and they will deliver free if you order 10 bales or more. You can preorder pine needles until March 4th by calling the church office at 704-824-1697.
If you would be able to help or provide refreshments, please call the church office.
Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday, March 11th. Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour before going to bed Saturday night.
Join us for Supper & Gospel Music
On Wednesday, March 14, Jerry Neely and his Whetstone Mountain Band will be playing and singing gospel music, with perhaps some popular secular music mixed in, in the Church Fellowship Hall.
This special program is a result of the Adult Education Committee working on a plan to bring new and different programs to our church at least once a quarter. It will be open to the public in an effort to invite and encourage others to meet and worship with us. We are asking that our congregation please join with us and show this group our appreciation as well as welcome others into our church fellowship.
Supper will be served at 6:00pm and music will begin around 6:30 p.m. We will be receiving a Love Offering for the musicians. We look forward to having a successful event by having great attendance from our congregation.