How I Imagine It….

by Carol Howard Merritt

Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20 (from the Common English BIble)

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the tomb. 2 Look, there was a great earthquake, for an angel from the Lord came down from heaven. Coming to the stone, he rolled it away and sat on it. 3 Now his face was like lightning and his clothes as white as snow. 4 The guards were so terrified of him that they shook with fear and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “ Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. ” 6 He isn’t here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him. 7 Now hurry, go and tell his disciples, ‘He’s been raised from the dead. He’s going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ I’ve given the message to you. ”

8 With great fear and excitement, they hurried away from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. 9 But Jesus met them and greeted them. They came and grabbed his feet and worshipped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “ Don’t be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that I am going into Galilee. They will see me there. ”

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “ I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age. ”

Imagine what it was like for Mary Magdalene—that morning as she stumbles in the dark to Jesus’ grave. She must have had a couple of sleepless nights after Jesus died. She saw his crucifixion on Friday afternoon. She couldn’t help but watch. It was like she could not believe that it was happening and she needed to see the scene for herself, even if it put her own life in danger.

So, long after the disciples fled from the scene of denied Jesus, Mary witnessed the events. And the picture of her friend hanging on that tree played in her mind a thousand times. She could recall his marred face. She could see where they plucked his beard. She stood back helplessly as they mocked him. She winced at every blow and her heart sank as they tortured her teacher and her friend. That Friday, the afternoon turned dark as night. After the whole thing was over, when she was sure that he was dead, she went to prepare the spices and ointment for his body. She knew she couldn’t do it on Saturday, her day of rest, so she had to get the treatment together on Friday evening.

On Saturday, she didn’t rest much. She was terrified and angry about what she had seen—haunted by the nightmare of those hours.

And now it’s Sunday, and Mary crawls out of her fitful sleep. While it was still night, she made her way to the tomb, so that she could put the spices and the ointment on Jesus’ body. She didn’t want the foul smell of death to permeate the air outside the tomb, and she was willing to risk her life so that it wouldn’t.

To understand the importance of what Mary is doing, we need to realize the policy of the Roman Emperor against those who were regarded as rebels. “The crucifixion of a persona had dire consequences for all relatives and friends. Criminal justice ordered that a crucified criminal, as a warning [and] example should hang upon the cross until animals had eaten his corpse.” To punish friends and relatives, they refused to allow any sort of funeral. So, “crucified bodies were guarded by Roman soldiers so that no one could steal them. Mourning was also forbidden. People who wept in public places over the death of an executed person were themselves executed.” Forthermore, Dorothee Soelle writes that “neither relatives nor friends were permitted to come close, to lament, even to look at them for any length of time… And conduct expressing a close relation to the one crucified could lead to being crucified oneself.”

In spite of all of the peril, Mary still wanted to do something. She wanted to care for Jesus in some way.

Mary was often concerned about these things. When Jesus went through the towns and villages, Mary would travel with Jesus and she would provide for them all. She left her home so that she could care for them. In many mundane things, she supported them. A few days before Jesus was crucified, Mary washed his feet with fine perfume. She mixed it with her tears. She dried his feet with her hair. She loved Jesus that much.

Judas complained about her wasting good money, but Jesus stood up for Mary. He explained that in her anointing, she was preparing him for his burial.

Even after Jesus was dead and buried, Mary doesn’t stop caring for her dear friend. She goes to the tomb with another woman, carrying spices. They stumble through the chilled night air, trying to figure out how they are going to get past those guards and how she is going to move that great stone. She imagines that she will have one last chance to care for him. She will unwrap the linen, touch his damaged face, spread the ointment on his wounded flesh. Then, she would wrap the linens back up.

Soon, the dust under her feet starts to soften. She hears the crunching sound of grass under her sandals. The subtle smell of the night flowers mingle with the strong spices which she holds in her hands. She knows she has reached the garden; she is almost there.

And she sees the man, a brilliant man, telling her that the body isn’t there. Jesus is risen. The messenger invites them to step inside the moist walls of the cave. They do, and when their eyes adjust to the darkness, they see that the tomb is empty. They begin to run back, alive with excitement.

As they are running, they meet Jesus, and she clings to the feet that she had just anointed.

This post was written as a part of the Common English Bible’s blog tour.

Season 1, Episode 1 – Brian McLaren

Join Bruce Reyes-Chow and Carol Howard Merritt as they welcome writer, speaker, and Emergent Church thinker, Brian McLaren (A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith)
for a discussion of following God’s call even amongst criticism.  Also, Carol and Bruce speak with Fritz Gutwein of The Quixote Center about the earthquake in Haiti and how you can continue to support the rebuilding of the island nation.

To listen, use the player at the bottom of the post, or right click here and “Save as…”

In this episode:

0:00: Bruce speaks with pastor Abby King-Kaiser about how her art intersect with her ministry
4:56: Bruce introduces the theme of the episode and Brian McLaren
6:31: Brian McLaren shares how he began writing – “a sense of pain and unpreparedness”; church members asking questions about postmodernism and deconstructionism
8:32: McLaren shares the various reactions to several of his books
10:00: McLaren: “I thought Generous Orthodoxy was a safe book that no one will disagree with”
11:28: “Almost anything can be forgiven except the failure to maintain the same list of enemies”
12:00: McLaren shares how he deals with his critics; forgoing the right to fair treatment
19:00: Bruce and Carol reflect on Part 1 of McLaren interview
25:30: McLaren’s thoughts on pastors dealing with difficulty in their present position
30:00: McLaren emphasizes spiritual practice as a prerequisite to following God’s call; silence and solitude
34:42: McLaren reflects on “the Death of the Emergent Church”
43:00: Bruce and Carol reflect on Part 2 of McLaren interview
52:45: Bruce and Carol speak with Fritz Gutwein about the earthquake in Haiti
1:10:08: Promo for next week’s episode: Carol interviews Bishop John Shelby Spong about his book Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell

Items mentioned in this episode:

The Underlying Tragedy” by David Brooks, The New York Times, 01/14/10
From Haiti’s ruins, a chance to rebuild a nation” by Alec MacGillis, The Washington Post, 01/17/10
Jubilee USA

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Episode 1 Behind The Scenes

Missing you …

(A note from Carol Howard Merritt)

God Complex Radio is in the midst of a hiatus, but it’s not because we’re giving up! As the crew worked long and hard for the past months, our energy and interest for the project only expanded, and so we decided that we would reformat it and roll out GCR 2.0 on January 18, 2010.

Features of the new show will include:

  • Continued interviews with the most interesting religious voices
  • Commentaries from regular guests
  • Clearer sound quality
  • More polished production and formatting

and….

  • No more technical difficulties!! (At least that we can foresee…)

We’ll be rolling out the show at the same time each week, and Bruce or I will be in a chat room when the show airs. So, we can be more engaged in the conversation.

I want to thank all of you who have been faithful listeners and partners with us so far. We love hearing your questions and comments. We love how so many of you “flat Stanleyed” the GCR dude, and we are humbled by how many of you Twittered, Facebooked, and told your friends about the show.

And I am so thankful for the people who have put incredible time and energy into working with the program–namely Bruce Reyes-Chow, Landon Whitsitt, Brian Merritt, Mark Smith, and Heather Scott.

If you have not listened to the show much, you can have a few weeks to catch up, our top episodes, with the most listeners have been:

  1. Diana Butler Bass
  2. Nadia Bolz-Weber
  3. Stephen Ray
  4. Phyllis Tickle
  5. Barbara Brown Taylor
  6. Frank Schaeffer
  7. Eric Elnes
  8. Will Willimon (hereby, affectionately known as “Big Willy”)

I can’t wait to see where this next step will bring us!

So until then… if you’ve got a God Complex….

(OLD GCR) Episode 30 – Advent 4

This week, Bruce and Carol complete the Advent series.  The God Complex has been helping you prepare for the
Advent season by reading and reflecting on the lectionary passages for
each of the remaining Sundays of Advent.  YOU are be part of the show,
please share your reflections in the chat room or as a caller.

Up this week is the Fourth Sunday of Advent.  Nadia Bolz-Weber will be our guest.  The lectionary passages are:  Micah 5:2-5a, Luke 1:46b-55, Psalm 80:1-7, Hebrews 10:5-10 and Luke 1:39-45 (46-55).

We’ll still be enjoying our musical breaks.

Join us live at noon EDT, 9am PDT today at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/godcomplexradio or listen to the archives after the show at that link or the BlogTalkRadio widget to the right on this blog.

After this week’s show, God Complex Radio will go on hiatus until the new year.  Watch this blog for more information on our new format and features!

(OLD GCR) Episode 29 – Advent 3 and Margaret Aymer

This week, Bruce and Carol continue the Advent series.  For this week and next week, the God Complex will be helping you prepare for the
Advent season by reading and reflecting on the lectionary passages for
each of the remaining Sundays of Advent.  YOU will be part of the show,
please share your reflections in the chat room or as a caller.

Up this week is the Third Sunday of Advent.  Margaret Aymer will be our guest.  The lectionary passages are:  Zephaniah 3:14-20, Isaiah 12:2-6, Philippians 4:4-7 and Luke 3:7-18.

We’ll still be enjoying our musical breaks.  Today’s music comes from Monkeybacon.

Join us live at noon EDT, 9am PDT today at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/godcomplexradio or listen to the archives after the show at that link or the BlogTalkRadio widget to the right on this blog.

(OLD GCR) Episode 28 – Advent week 2 & Eric Elnes

This week, Bruce and Carol continue the Advent series.  For the next three weeks, the God Complex will be helping you prepare for the Advent season by reading and reflecting on the lectionary passages for each of the remaining Sundays of Advent.  YOU will be part of the show,please share your reflections in the chat room or as a caller.

Up first this week is the Second Sunday of Advent.  Eric Elnes will be our guest.  The lectionary passages are:  Malachi 3:1-4, Luke1:68-79, Philippians 1:3-11, and Luke 3:1-6.

We’ll still be enjoying our musical breaks.  Today’s music comes from Eighth Day Collective.

Join us live at noon EDT, 9am PDT today at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/godcomplexradio/2009/11/09/Carol-and-Bruce-talk-with-Eric-Elnes-about-Advent-II or listen to the archives after the show at that link or the BlogTalkRadio widget to the right on this blog.

(OLD GCR) Episode 27 – Advent Week 1

This week, Bruce and Carol start a special series of shows.  For the next four weeks, the God Complex will be helping you prepare for the Advent season by reading and reflecting on the lectionary passages for each of the four Sundays of Advent.  YOU will be part of the show, please share your reflections in the chat room or as a caller.

Up first this week is the First Sunday of Advent.  The lectionary passages are:  Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, and Luke 21:25-36.

We’ll still be enjoying our musical breaks.  Today’s music comes from Jones, Inc.

Join us live at noon EDT, 9am PDT today at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/godcomplexradio/2009/11/02/Carol-and-Bruce-talk-to-each-other-about-Advent-I or listen to the archives after the show at that link or the BlogTalkRadio widget to the right on this blog.

Episode 26 – Clark Strand

This week Carol and Landon Whitsitt will be hosting, and our guest will be Clark Strand.  Clark is the author of “How to Believe in God: Whether You Believe in Religion of Not” and a founder of the Woodstock Buddhist Bible Study.  Clark was also a zen buddhist monk for 30 years.

Our musical guest will be The Russ Spiegel Jazz Orchestra.

Tune in at noon EDT, 9am PDT at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/godcomplexradio/2009/10/26/Carol-and-Bruce-talk-to-Clark-Strand or after the show listen to the archive either in the column to the right, or at that site.

Episode 25 – Bruce talks to himself

Our previously scheduled guest had a family situation, and will be rescheduled for another show.

Carol Howard Merritt is out of town at a conference.

That leaves Bruce – All By Himself.  We’ll be looking for lots of chat room activity and folks who will call in with questions and reactions to what Bruce has to say.  Because we love him, just as he is.

Our musical guest will be Amy Steinberg.  If Bruce has a “technical difficulty” we might get an extra song!

Join us LIVE today (we need the help!) at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/godcomplexradio/2009/10/19/Bruce-talks-to-himself or listen to the chaos later in the archives at that site or the 2nd column of this blog.

Next Page »