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I read this in the June 2009 issue of Reader’s Digest. It was submitted by Mitchell Hauser.
A priest, a minister and a rabbi want to see who’s best at his job. So they each go into the woods, find a bear, and attempt to convert it. Later they get together. The priest begins:
“When I found the bear, I read to him from the Catechism and sprinkled him with holy water. Next week is his First Communion.”
“I found a bear by the stream,” says the minister, “and preached God’s holy word. The bear was so mesmerized that he let me baptize him.”
They both look down at the rabbi, who is lying on a gurney in a body cast.
“Looking back,” he says, “maybe I shouldn’t have started with the circumcision.”
The pair were on a seven-mile walk from the city to a village. They were probably scared and certainly confused about what had happened in recent days.
Then, as they walked along, a stranger appeared. Hadn’t he heard? (He must have been from another planet or something.) They told him all the events of recent days. Then he told them about the Scriptures and why everything happened as it did. After eating with them at the end of their journey, the stranger vanishes.
The stranger? It’s reportedly Jesus, the man who was crucified, died and was buried.
But how can that be? Dead men don’t reappear in the flesh, walk along the road, eat and drink.
Unless … could it be true? Are the bizarre claims of the disciples, apostles and Gospel writers that Jesus is God’s only son true? Could it possibly be true that he did not STAY dead, but came back to life and appeared to more than 500 people?
It’s either true or the greatest hoax of all time.
The full story about the Road to Emmaus is told by Luke, chapter 24, verses 13-35.
Here it is the Wednesday after Easter, but I’m still thinking about Holy Week.
We had a Tenebrae Service at our small church on Thursday evening. “Tenebrae” is Latin for shadows or darkness, and the service recreates the Last Supper and other events leading up to the Crucifixion. Scripture is read as, one by one, lights are extinguished in the sanctuary. At the end, everyone departs in silence. This service has become a favorite of mine.
I didn’t go to a Good Friday service, but it was definitely on my mind. As long as I’ve lived now (51 years) and been a Christian (about half that time), it’s still hard for me to fathom what Jesus did for me and all humanity.
I was very up for Easter Sunday, which started with Sunday school with the three girls I teach, continued with a terrific worship service, and was followed by an Easter egg hunt and potluck. I’m a church goer, so I’m there pretty much every Sunday. But Easter is different. It all sinks in even more on Easter. In a way, I know it should be that way every week (or every day).
Christ is risen! He has risen indeed.
(Image: Trevor Coultart/Flickr)
I just started reading A Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, an award-winning journalist who used investigative journalism and legal techniques to try to get at the truth about the humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ.
Strobel began the project when his wife converted to Christianity, which caught him by surprise. Strobel was a Yale-educated atheist. The book reads like a novel and the first 50 pages are very interesting.
That’s the question the disciples were arguing about on the road to Capernaum. (Mark 9:33-37.) It was also the lesson I taught in Sunday school this morning with my elementary-age class that consists of three girls: Shayley, Jessica and Caroline (my daughter).
Jesus told his 12 followers if you want to be first, then you must be last and servant of all. That’s a tough one, even for us baptized Christians. Everything that seems to matter in this world is predicated on getting ahead of someone else.
To be first, be last? Really? Being the servant of all as the road to greatness? The world laughs at that one.
Jesus certainly showed us what it looks like, both during his ministry and at the cross. If he hadn’t, we’d be in a sorry place.
Today we gathered all the Sunday school kids — third-graders to high-schoolers — for a talk by Amanda about her urban mission trip last spring to Atlanta and the million dollar mile. She went with a college group that worked through the Atlanta Dream Center and Pastor Paul, who is known by everyone in Atlanta.
The million dollar mile got its name from the large volume of drug deals that go down along that stretch of asphalt. It is apparently the epicenter of drug and other illicit activity in Atlanta.
Amanda and her group spent five days in the area. She told many heart-stirring stories about reaching out to the poor, youth, prostitutes and more, calling it the most incredible experience of her life. She also shared photos of several kids and a short video. It was moving stuff.
Last night frozen stuff was falling from the sky. My daughter, who went to sing in a middle school concert in Lynchburg, was unable to get home because the road conditions were so treacherous. She and her choir teacher spent the night at a Hampton Inn.
This morning the weather looked iffy. I called the church and my pastor answered the phone. He was debating whether to call church at 8 a.m. Then, around 9 a.m., it began snowing and David sent an email canceling church. Around 10 a.m., my daughter finally made it home from her adventure that began Saturday at 6 a.m.
It truly felt like a Sabbath at home, snowed in and lounging around. I admit I was a bit lazy – all I did was a devotional and uttered a few quick prayers. The rest of the day I tapped away on my laptop and watched TV with my daughters.
People aren’t necessarily lost when they get to Floyd. They’re just not certain about where they’re going. Maybe it’s the lack of traffic signals, congestion and four-lane roads.
If they don’t have GPS or are relying on a Mapquest printout (which is pretty useless in these parts), they’re likely to ask someone on the street for directions. Because it’s a small town and I walk places, often times that someone is me.
“Can you tell me how to get to the Harvest Moon?” they might ask.
I ask them to pull to the curb and stop. I don’t like giving directions at walking speed while they’re creeping along Main Street with the passenger window down, head jerking back and forth.
“Go to the stoplight,” I begin.
There’s only one traffic signal in town – and the entire county, for that matter. All Floyd directions seem to begin with those four words.
“At the stoplight, turn right toward Christiansburg,” I continue.
“As you start to head out of town, it’s a new, large wood-frame building on the right.”
OK, here’s where I think I’ve improved at giving small-town directions.
“If you get to the Family Dollar store, you’ve gone too far. Turn around.”
(In Floyd, you either immediately find the place, or you’re on your way out of the county before the song on your CD player changes.)
They nod, smile and pull back on to Main Street. They’re always appreciative. And I always assume they find where they’re going.
Before there were cell phones and instant messaging, there was Shooting Creek.
As local legend goes, Shooting Creek got its name as a result of the moonshine trade.
“Revenuers” (special agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) would come to Appalachia to prosecute unlawful distilling. Along Shooting Creek in Floyd and Franklin counties, locals would fire their guns to warn their neighbors that the revenuers were coming.
This real-time communication tool helped the independent local distillers to conceal or abandon their stills before the government authorities arrived.
Today, you can still hear gun shots in the vicinity of Shooting Creek. But those are from the guns of hunters. Mostly.