Encountering Jesus Along the Way

Jeff Garrison
Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church
April 26, 2020
Luke 24:13-35

To watch the entire service (approximately 40 minutes), click here to go to our YouTube site.

           It is solved by walking, Augustine of Hippo said.[1] I believe it. When I don’t know what to do, I often take a walk (or ride a bicycle or spend time in a kayak). There’s something about getting out and moving that helps us re-center ourselves. It’s especially true during these times of social isolation. We need to get some fresh air and pick up a little sunshine. It helps our mental state. And maybe that’s why the two disciples in today’s scripture reading decided to hike over to Emmaus. After all, they’d had a bad week. We’ve all had some bad weeks lately and could all probably use a good walk. The weather is going to be nice today—just maintain a safe social distance.

As we’ve done through Lent and have continued through the Easter season, I’m going to use a piece of art to help us get into the text for today. Our picture shows two disciples flanking Jesus as they walk along the road. Now, as we’ll see when we get into the text, they don’t recognize Jesus. We do! He’s in the middle (remember my sermon from last week-Jesus is always in the middle and we need to keep him there.). Also, Jesus is wearing white! That’s a dead giveaway! One of the disciples holds a scroll and Jesus is obviously helping him understand what he’s reading. But let’s step away and get into the mind of what this lad, over on the edge, might be thinking.

          I have a lot of time to think out here, watching the sheep. I see a lot of people coming and going. Jerusalem, the Holy City, is just over the rise, a few miles away. These three were heading away from the city and engaged in a great debate. Even with my back turned, I could hear them a mile away. And as they were talking, the third guy, the one in a white robe, catches up with them. He joins their conversation. They seem rather surprised that he didn’t know what they were talking about. There’s this man, supposedly a king, who’d been crucified. But then he starts asking questions and I can tell they are intrigued. Here, a guy who didn’t seem to know the news, yet knows the scriptures.

          Later in the day, as the sun is setting, I see the two men again, rushing back toward Jerusalem. They are joyous and excited. I wondered what happened to the third man, the one who seemed to know so much.

 

It’s still Easter in our text, the afternoon after word began to spread around about Jesus not being in the tomb. People are trying to figure this all out. One of the things that I like about Luke’s retelling of the resurrection is how he gives three different stories which all happened that first Easter Sunday. There is the account of the women and Peter at the empty tomb early in the morning. Then there is this account that happens along to the road to Emmaus. Finally, there is the appearance of Jesus among the disciples at a fish fry. In today’s account, we learn that what happened was necessary and foretold by prophets. The Messiah had to suffer, die and rise again.[2]

In the account we’re looking at today, we join up with two disciples walking to Emmaus, a town which according to Luke was about seven miles from Jerusalem. We’re not sure, today, where Emmaus was located. One of the disciples is identified as Cleopas, and we don’t really know who he is as this is his only mention in Scripture. It’s assumed these two disciples were not part of Jesus’ inner-circle (the twelve) but of a larger group of those who followed Jesus.[3] Some think the unnamed disciple might have been Cleopas’ wife. Perhaps they were two of the 70 disciples Luke mentions in the tenth chapter, who were sent out by Jesus.

On this occasion, they are walking and discussing the events of the past few days when they are joined by a stranger. This makes sense to me, as I have walked a lot in my life. I recall numerous occasions along the Appalachian Trail where I was talking to someone and a third person comes up behind us and, overhearing what we were talking about, puts his two cents worth.

Interestingly, they do not recognize Jesus. Certainly, if they had traditional robes and head coverings, it could be hard to recognize him, but we’d think they would be familiar with his voice. But Verse 16 indicates that their eyes were prevented from seeing Jesus, which parallels what happens in the guest house, where their eyes were opened.[4]

When the stranger joins them, he asks, essentially, “What’s going on?” Think about this. It’s been a troubling few days in Jerusalem. This is kind of like someone coming up to you in the grocery store, way too close, while you’re decked out with gloves and a mask, and ask what’s up with the gloves and masks. Does this person not know what’s going on with the COVID virus?[5]  Cleopas, the only disciple named, questions him harshly. “Are you the only one that doesn’t know what’s happened? It seems odd that this stranger is clueless, and they fill Jesus in on all that has happened. They witness to Jesus, about Jesus! But it turns out, Jesus’ isn’t so clueless. He helps them understand the Scriptures by asking a question. It has been said that questions “help tune the soul,” as they help “illumine the world.”[6] Jesus’ question, on the need for the Messiah to suffer before glory, does this. Jesus, whom they still don’t know, helps these disciples see the Scriptures in a new way.

There’s a part of me that feels as if Jesus is playing with the two disciples. Yes, he knew very well what happened in Jerusalem over the past few days. But Jesus, instead of pulling down hood of his robe and demanding the disciples look him in the eye, or maybe showing them his hands and feet, takes the time to lead these disciples to the point in which they can accept and understand what happens. Jesus is never in a hurry; he takes his time, helping us to understand God’s grace.

The disciples, who still haven’t figured out who Jesus is, appreciate his words and invite him to eat with them in Emmaus. We have the sense Jesus was willing to just keep on walking, but hospitality is appreciated, and Jesus’ accepts. This sets up an occasion for him to break bread with the two disciples and it is in that act that their eyes are opened, and they recognize him.

Something else happens. Jesus, at the table, goes from being the guest to the host.[7] The disciples are rewarded for their hospitality, perhaps foreshadowing what would later be written in the Book of Hebrews, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it.”[8] In this case, it’s not just an angel. It’s the Lord himself.

As they walked to Emmaus, I imagine the two disciples lollygagging along. Their heads are down, they’re kicking stones. They’re sad about Jesus and not sure what to think of the rumors they’ve heard. Their slow pace allows this stranger to catch up with them and join in their conversation.  Afterwards, after Jesus opens their eyes, they run back to Jerusalem. Their pace picks up. They have a purpose. They head back to find the disciples and to share the story of their encounter.

Jesus gives us a purpose. In the other resurrection stories, Jesus sent off those he met with a mission. Mary Magdalene is to go tell the disciples. The disciples are to build a church on forgiveness. But here, Jesus just disappears. However, the two disciples know what to do. This is just too glorious to keep to themselves. They must share the message with others, so they head back to Jerusalem to tell the disciples.

In some ways, our encounters with Christ are probably more like these two disciples walking to Emmaus. There are very few Damascus Road experiences, like that of Paul. It ranks up there with Moses’ burning unburned bush. Most of us experience Christ, like these two, when we realize something someone said caused our hearts to burn, or when someone opens Scripture and we learned the eternal truths of God’s Word. And when something like that happens, we must tell someone. It’s a Truth we can’t keep to ourselves. This is how our faith spreads. We encounter Christ through his word or through someone who speaks to us about Christ and then Christ becomes real to us.

When Christ became real to these two disciples, they rushed off to tell others. What do we do? How do we respond? How does our faith change our lives? In this time of social distancing we might not be able to barge into a neighbor’s house sharing the good news, but there are still ways we can let people know what we’ve found to be true. There are ways we can let people witness our faith, for we have a story that demands to be told. Amen.

 

©2020

[1] Solviture ambulando. It’s one of my Augustine’s more well-known sayings that has been often quoted.

[2] See Luke 24:6-7, 25-27, and 46.

[3] Norval Geldenhuys, The Gospel of Luke: The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 632.

[4] James R. Edwards, The Gospel According to Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2015), 716-717, 724.

[5] This story came from Jill Duffield, “Looking into the Lectionary-3rd Sunday of Easter,” The Presbyterian Outlook (April 20, 2020).

[6] Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage: The Seeker’s Guide to Making Travel Sacred (New York: MJF Books, 1998), 24.

[7] Edwards, 723.

[8] Hebrews 13:2, New Living Translation.

Three Books: Civility, Theology, & Poetry

What are you reading this days?  Looking for a good book while you isolate yourself? Here are three books from books I recently read. It’s by sheer accident that two of them discuss Epictetus (but different parts of his philosophy):

P. M. Forni, The Civility Solution: What to Do When People are Rude (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008), 266 pages including notes.

The late P. M. Forni was the founder of the Civility Institute at John Hopkins University. In this short book, he deals with issues we face all the time, rude people. He encourages his readers to take the high and honest road when dealing with such folks. It’s the only way to build a more civil world.

In the first chapter, Forni defines rudeness as a disregard for others and an attempt to “control through invalidation”. He lists the costs rudeness has for individuals, the economy, and society: stress, loss of self-esteem, loss of productivity, and the potential of violence. He also discusses the cause of rudeness, which is simplifies as a bad “state of mind”.

In the second chapter, Forni presents and explains how to prevent rudeness by listing and explaining eight rules for a civil life:

Slow down and be present in your life
Listen to the voice of empathy
Keep a positive attitude
Respect others and grant them plenty of validation
Disagree graciously and refrain from arguing
Get to know the people around you
Pay attention to the small things
Ask, don’t tell

In the third chapter, Forni writes about how we can “accept real-life rudeness.” He quotes Epictetus, who encourages us to want things to happen as they happen for a life to go well. After all, we can’t control other people, and if we expect that there will be rudeness in life, we won’t be surprised. But once we accept the situation, then we can act upon it, which may be to remove ourselves or to refuse to be react. “Rudeness is someone else’s problem foisted on you,” Forni notes (62). Once we accept reality, we may choose to respond appropriately and even assertively to redirect the situation.

In the fourth chapter, Forni writes about how we respond to rudeness, but does so by beginning with a wonderful (and very rude example) from two 18th Century British politicians. Scolding his rival, John Montagu cried, “Upon my soul, Wilkes, I don’t know whether you’ll die upon the gallows or of syphilis.” Wilkes responded, “That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles, or your mistress” (67). Forni suggests that when we encounter rudeness, we cool off, calm ourselves, don’t take it personally (most often it’s not personal), and then decide what we need to do. While we do not need to respond to all situations, we don’t want to ignore all situations, either. When we do decide to confront, we need to state the problem, inform the offending party of its effect upon you, and request such behavior to cease. Forni then lists special situations such as bullying, rudeness at work, and rudeness with children.

The second half of the book consists of a series of case studies. Starting with those close to us, Forni offers examples of rudeness that we might face along with a solution to how we might confront the behavior. Other chapters deal with rudeness from neighbors, at the workplace, on the road, from service workers, and within digital communications. While these chapters contained many important ideas and examples, it essentially applied the principals laid out in the first half of the book.  It’s too bad that Forni is no longer with us. He could have updated this issue with a section on political rudeness.

Another of Forni’s books have been on reading list for some time. This book was brought to me by a colleague, who had found it at a book exchange and brought it for me, knowing of my interest in civility.  I was glad to read it and would recommend it. I also look forward to reading more of Forni’s writings.
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N. T. Wright, Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues (New York: HarperOne, 2014), 223 pages including a scripture index.

This is a collection of twelve lectures crafted into independent articles addressing many contemporary issues in the world: the debate over science and religion, the role of women within the church, the environmental crisis, evil, natural disasters,  politics, and the future. For those who have some familiarity with Wright’s theology, you will see many of these topics addressed with his recognizable theology of the cross and resurrection ushering in a new era in which we now live. The resurrection is the eighth day of a new creation brought to us by God the Redeemer (paralleling the new creation in Genesis). For Wright, the purpose of salvation is to restore us to stewards of creation (36).  Wright is also critical of the adoption of Epicureanism during the Enlightenment, which allowed us to do away with “God.” The result is that we’ve gone back to the old gods of Aphrodite, Mammon, and Mars.  In other words, we’ve “got rid of God upstairs so that we can live our own lives the way we want…. And have fallen back into the clutches of forces and energies that are bigger than ourselves… forces we might as well recognize as god” (149-154). Wright also draws some interesting comparisons from his native home in the United Kingdom to the religious situation in American. He points out how the “right” is seen as the savior of religion in American, and how it’s the “left” in Britain that for the past forty years have tried to restore religion to the public life (164). The closing essays looks at the future. While debunking ideas such as the rapture and others end world scenarios popularized by the “Left Behind” series, he leaves his readers with a more hopeful vision of the future.  I enjoyed these essays. They left me with a lot to ponder and I recommend the book to others interested in how the Christian faith might inform our lives and world today.
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Laura Davenport, Dear Vulcan: poems (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2020), 63 pages.

There is much about the South in these poems. Her grandfather’s grandfather walks back from Richmond in the spring of 1865, burying his burdens along the way. A girl becomes a woman in the industrial city of Birmingham, Alabama, with its mile-long coal trains snaking around closed steel mills. While the title poem, “Dear Vulcan,” is set in Birmingham, Davenport explores many places across the region. There are urban and rural settings, places inland and others by the ocean. Hell is seen in a basement pool hall. The August thunderstorm at night “washes summer metallic edge from the air.” There’s the city without women, which keeps reappearing, populated by a boy experiencing the world. Sexuality is explored in parked cars, church basements, and by a married couple drawn to each other in bed after painting the room. In each poem, the reader stumbles upon more pleasant surprises.

While I found much about the South in these poems that I related to, the one missing element was race. Birmingham was not just the Southern Pittsburgh; it was also the city of Bull O’Conner and the 16th Street Baptist Church where four young black girls waiting for their Sunday School class to begin, died in a racist firebombing. Perhaps, one could hope, this could be forgotten and buried or painted over, and we could have a South where race no longer mattered. But that’s my bias, instilled by growing up during the Civil Rights era. But maybe the absence of race (as in women in the poems in cities without women) is that the South often struggles to ignore that which it doesn’t want to face. In my own personal life, I am still amazed that I could live in a city in Virginia for three years, (this was before they segregated schools) and never realize that we (whites) made up only 20% of the population. For the South as a region to come of age, it’ll have to learn to face the unspeakable.  In the meantime, children become adults and must experience the world around them which Davenport captures beautifully.

I met Davenport through a writer’s group that I’m in. I was hoping to catch her book release, but it was the day after I had flown back from Austin, Texas, just as the country was shutting down over the fear of COVID-19. As I had been around several hundred of my “best friends” inside two airplanes, I decided it was best if I self-quarantined. I missed the reading at the Book Lady Bookstore but was able to pick up a signed copy of the book thanks to the “Booklady” (who had an employee drop the book off at my office on his way home). How’s that for service!
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The Resurrection, Parts 2 & 3

Jeff Garrison
Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church
April 19, 2020
John 20:19-29

 

Throughout this Easter Season, we’re looking at post-resurrection stories of Jesus. We find these mostly in the gospels of Luke and John. As we left off last week, Jesus had risen and had appeared to Mary Magdalene. He sent her off on a mission to tell the disciples. Prior to her arrival, all they know is that Jesus’ tomb is open, and his body is gone. They are fearful, worrying that they may end up facing the same kind of death Jesus’ endured. But that changes.

What is this resurrection about? What does it mean for us, today? In Richard Rohr’s devotional this week, he quoted Franciscan sister and scientist Ilia Delio:

Christianity can help us realize that death and resurrection are part of the evolutionary path toward wholeness; letting go of isolated existence for the sake of deeper union. Something dies but something new is born—which is why the chaos of our times is, in a strange way, a sign of hope; something new is being born within.[1]

Is this a time of hope? In this time of pandemic, what do we need to let go of? How might we become more whole? How might we develop a deeper union with Christ? Our text provides some suggestions.

We’re continuing to look at art to help us get into the Scriptures. Today’s painting, of Thomas checking out Jesus’ wounds, is by Caravaggio, an Italian painter of the late 16th and early 17th Century. Let’s get into the head of the other disciple looking over Thomas in this depiction of the event. What do you think was going on in his mind?

Like Thomas, I also have doubts. I was just not willing to speak up. Can this really be Jesus? After all, his body was so broken when they pulled him off the cross. Yet, he’s now in front of us. Jesus insists that Thomas, who doubted when they said Jesus had risen from the dead, stick his finger into his wound. I’m watching. Thomas is reluctant, but Jesus grabs his wrist and pulls his hand toward the wound. Can this really be the same Jesus, that just a little over a week ago, hung on a cross?  And is he the same Jesus we followed throughout Galilee? Will people believe us when we tell what we’ve experienced? I no longer understand what is happening, but I know that nothing will ever be the same.

Let us read from the gospel of John, chapter 20, beginning with verse 19.

 

          What a week it. From the Parade to the cross and now on the evening of the first day of a new week, the disciples gather in secret. The doors are locked. Everyone is exhausted. Fright and fatigue show on their faces. After three years, they only have each other. And now there’s a rumor going around, started by Mary Magdalene, that Jesus is alive. Some think it possible, but others believe it’s just idle tale?”[2]

        And then suddenly, as the sun sinks in the West, Jesus appears. How did he get through the locked doors? But here he is, when he belongs, in the middle of the middle of the gathered disciples. Jesus was the one who unites the disciples. He’s always in the middle. He was even in the middle of those crucified on Friday. The middle is where Jesus belongs.[3] Remember that!

Holding up his hands, greeting his friends, Jesus says: “Peace be with you.” What a sight! The nail holes are evident. There’s a rip in his side where the Roman spear was thrust. The fatigue on their faces disappear, but the fright remains.

Again, Jesus says: “Peace be with you,” only this time he continues, telling them that just as he was sent by the Father, he’s sending them out into the world. The unique thing about the resurrection is that Jesus speaks to the disciples as if they are his equals and able to continue in his mission. Then, reminiscence of God blowing breath into the nostrils of the clay figure there in the Garden, giving life to Adam, Jesus blows upon the disciples.[4] Obviously, they weren’t worried about COVID-19.

A week later, the disciples are again in the house… Again, it’s the first day of the week, Sunday, the day after the Jewish Sabbath, the day of resurrection, the primary day that most Christians worship.[5] Again, the doors are locked. The shades are pulled… So much for Jesus’ command to go out into the world… It’s been a week since they’ve seen the resurrected Christ, with his wounds still visible, yet they’re still hiding, still afraid for their lives, still afraid to go out into the world…  Then Jesus reappears. And, where is he? Standing there among the disciples—in the middle—where Jesus belongs.

Thomas, the empiricist who wants to see, sense, and touch Jesus before he commits himself to believing is also present. Knowing this, Jesus invites Thomas to place his finger in his wounds… Imagine Thomas reaching out his hand. And then he sees. In awe, Thomas cries out, “My Lord and my God!”

         We could argue that this is the climax of John’s gospel. “My Lord and my God,” acknowledges that Jesus is more than the Messiah. We get a whiff of this in Matthew’s gospel where we’re told the women at the tomb worshipped Jesus.[6] We don’t worship a person; we worship God. Thomas takes this a step further and declares that Jesus is God. His confession has gone beyond all other confessions of the disciples up to this point.[7] A doubter at first, Thomas is the first disciple to recognize Jesus as more than a teacher. Jesus is God. Furthermore, Thomas’ proclamation is a political statement. Roman emperors were addressed as “Our lord and god.” Here, Thomas confesses who truly is Lord and God, and it’s not Caesar or anyone else to whom we might be lured into professing allegiance.[8] By calling Jesus Lord, Thomas asserts Jesus is worthy to obey. By calling Jesus God, Thomas declares that Jesus should be worshipped, as we’re doing today.

N. T. Wright suggests that Thomas serves as a parable for our need to both have the historical and scientific facts. He wanted to touch, to experience, and to see. But when he claims Jesus to be God, he transcends the historical and scientific realm into something “higher and richer.” We’re into a new creation.[9]

         What all this means to us, today, two millenniums after the resurrection? Jesus’ last words in this passage are interesting. It’s a blessing on us. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe,” Jesus says.  Did you hear that?  He’s talking about you and me; he’s blessing those of us who have not had an opportunity to stick our fingers into his wounds. Instead of seeing, we believe due to the presence of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of others who have felt Jesus’ presence in their lives. And because we have faith in Jesus Christ, we’re to listen to his teachings and to live lives that strive to glorify him. That’s the challenge we have, as individuals, to listen to Jesus and to live faithful.

       Furthermore, as a community of believers, we’re able to offer forgive sins. That’s quite a task. You know, there are a lot of good things that the church does in the community that other groups can also do, and in some cases these groups can even do it better than the church. But there is one thing that no other group can do. The government can’t do it, civic clubs can’t do it, political parties can’t do it—and that’s forgive sins. As God, Jesus has this power and he grants it to his church. For this reason, the church is an essential business. But the church isn’t a building; the church is wherever God’s people are at, which now, hopefully, is in the safety of our homes.

There’s a lot of hope in this passage. We have a God who can do incredible things and I believe God is doing that right now. This pandemic is offering us a chance to pause and re-evaluate our lives and what is important. We have plenty of time as we sit around the house watching TV and reading novels. But just remember this, the church isn’t here in this building, it’s where you and all the other believers are located. And, more importantly, as it was in that first Easter, and the next Sunday, Jesus needs to be present, in the middle of us. It’s easy to be depress these days, but Jesus is here, ready to give us strength and hope and encouragement. While this pandemic might suggest that it’s not safe to invite people into our homes, the exception is Jesus. Invite him into your home. Spend time with him during these weeks of isolation, asking him what you might learn from this time. For Jesus is not in the grave, he’s descended to the Father, but he’s left behind his Spirit to guide and comfort us. And for that, we should be thankful.  Amen.

©2020

[1] https://cac.org/death-transformed-2020-04-12/?utm_source=cm&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dm&utm_content=summary

[2] Luke 24:11, “and these words seemed to be an idle tale.”  John’s gospel only tells about Jesus’ encounter with Mary Magdalene prior to meeting his disciples later in the day.  See John 20:1-19.

[3] Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014), 1162.

[4] See Genesis 2:7.

[5] Christians worship on the first day of the week because the Lord rose that Day (John 20) and the Holy Spirit descended upon the church on that day (Acts 2:1ff). See also 1 Corinthians 16:2.

[6] Matthew 28:9.

[7] As an example, the climax in Mark’s gospel comes with Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah, but Thomas makes a stronger Christological statement, proclaiming that Jesus is also God. See Mark 8:29.

[8] Raymond Brown, The Gospel According to John XIII-XXI: The Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1970), 1047.

[9] N. T. Wright, Surprised by Scripture: Engaging Contemporary Issues (New York: HarperOne, 2014), 60.

“I Have Seen the Lord!”

 

Jeff Garrison
Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church
John 20:1-18
Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020

 

Throughout Lent, we have been looking at pieces of art from around the world as a way to get into the Scriptures for each Sunday. We’re going to continue this tradition through the Easter Season. Today, we are looking at another artwork from the country of Cameroon, as the artist imagines Jesus and Mary Magdalene looking like the people of that country. Let’s think for a moment about what Mary Magdalene is thinking up to this point in the story:

          I’ve stuck by Jesus ever since I encountered him that day on the road, long before we came to Jerusalem, when he freed me of those seven demons that had tormented me.[1] I gave him what I had to support his ministry. I followed him from Galilee to Jerusalem. This past week has been overwhelming, from the glorious entry into Jerusalem, beginning with the waving of palm branches and the shouting of Hosanna. Whenever I could be close to Jesus and listen to his teachings, I was there. I heard him teach in the temple about giving to Caesar what was Caesar’s  and giving to God what was God’s, and about the generosity of the poor woman with two coins, whom most ignored, but whom Jesus lifted up as an example of faith. I was there, in the background at the dinners, and I followed Jesus as he was led away like a criminal. How a man who had freed me of such evil could be considered a criminal and a threat to the nation, I’ll never understand. I watched in horror as he was beaten and mocked and then led to the hill of death, where they crucified him. I couldn’t believe what was happening.

          I’ve had a hard time sleeping the last two nights. I kept wanting to be with him again, but I know he’s dead. When the birds began to sing in the predawn hours, I decided to get up and head to the tomb. I wasn’t prepared to find it empty, and Jesus’ body gone. I wondered where they had taken my Lord, and ran and told the disciples. Afterwards, as I was wandering around lost, I couldn’t believe my ears. He called me by name, “Mary.” Things are never going to be the same…[2]

Now let us listen to today’s lesson as I read from the 20th Chapter of John’s gospel.[3]

         We have spent all of Lent looking at the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry: From the entry into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday, to the teachings at the temple and the various dinners and then the betrayal that led to Jesus’ death. On Friday, we appeared to be the end of the story. Jesus is dead. His lifeless body is sealed in a tomb as the sun is going down on the day for preparing for the Sabbath. Everyone returns to their homes or where they’ve been staying. I’m sure Caiaphas, the chief priest, and Pilate, the Roman governor, along others in leadership positions are glad to be done with this rabble-rouser. They may have even rested well on the Sabbath. Others, like the disciples and those who had followed Jesus were troubled. But they, too, felt it was over. They saw Jesus’ limp body be taken from the cross. But, as we know, the story doesn’t end.

         John begins the 20th Chapter with several statements about time. It’s early. It’s the first day of the week. In the first chapter, John’s gospel has an echo of Genesis. Both start the same way, “In the beginning…” John takes that well-known phrase from the opening chapter of Scripture and applies it to Jesus. Jesus, the Word, was with God at the beginning of creation. God is doing something new. As in the seven days of Creation, when God created heaven and earth, we now have a new week. In the first week of Creation, God created humanity, the crown of creation, on day six. Now, on day six, God once again does his triumphant work, reconciling a sinful humanity with the divine through the sacrifice of God’s Son. That’s Good Friday. God rests on the seventh day, the Sabbath, our Saturday. And then, on the first day of the new week, in those early morning hours, God begins a new age.

          As Paul proclaims, Christ is the first fruit of those who died.[4] With the resurrection of Christ, God is beginning to do something new. N. T. Wright explains in his essay on John 20, the Easter story is more than just God putting a happy ending to a really bad week. Easter is the beginning of God’s new creation. The work of the Father in creation, and the work of the Son in redemption, are complete.[5] It’s now the eighth day. We’re in a new era.

         The reports of this new era start with a restless Mary Magdalene going to the tomb while it’s still dark and seeing that it’s open. Of course, her experience, as is ours, is that once you are dead, there’s no coming back. So she runs to tell the disciples. Two of them, Peter and probably John, race each other back to the gravesite.[6] And there they find an empty tomb, with the linen cloths that had wrapped Jesus’ body left behind. But none of them know what to think. In verse 8, we’re told that the faster disciple believed, but what did he believe? The next verse seems to indicate that he only believed the tomb was open, and that Mary’s report was factual. They did not understand that Jesus must rise from the dead. So instead of hanging around, they head back to bed.

        Mary hangs around. We get a sense of what she is thinking when she answers the angels who want to know why she’s crying. “They’ve taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” Mary Magdalene still believes that Jesus is dead. She assumes, because she can’t imagine otherwise, that some grave robber broke into the tomb and took the body away. In her mind, this is a terrible deed. It would be a terrible deed. You don’t mess with dead bodies. Even our military prosecutes soldiers who desecrate enemy dead. After all, once they are dead, they no longer pose a threat and are no longer enemies.[7]

Mary Magdalene, who has a front row seat at what God is doing, can’t imagine what’s happening. Even when she first sees Jesus, she assumes he’s the gardener. After all, dead men don’t walk around. She thinks the gardener may even be responsible for removing Jesus’ body. It’s only when Jesus calls her by name does she realizes that what has happened is more marvelous than she could ever imagine. John has already told us that the Good Shepherd knows his sheep by name.[8] And Jesus knew Mary, and when she hears her name, she recognizes him.

In Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, he is always assigning his followers with a mission. Jesus assignment for Mary Magdalene is insightful. Go and tell my brothers…” he says. The disciples are elevated; instead of disciples, they’re now brothers, on equal terms with Jesus. Furthermore, Mary is lifted up into this family, for Jesus tells her that he’ll ascend to “my Father and your Father, my God and your God.” Having been called by name, Mary Magdalene is now a part of Jesus’ family.[9] She runs off to obey Jesus, going to the disciples and saying “I have seen the Lord!” Could there ever be a more wonderful proclamation? Their world would never be the same.

         This is an Easter unlike any we’ve experienced before. Instead of being together, wearing new clothes, bringing flowers to decorate the cross afterwards while kids hunt Easter eggs, we’re all separated as we strive to stop this virus that has unleashed death upon the earth. In some ways, we’re like the disciples, who were essentially hiding on that first Easter. Yes, Mary was out, as well as Peter and John for a short period, but once they saw Jesus’ body is gone, they head back to where the rest of the disciples are hiding. In fact, if you keep reading, you’ll see the disciples were not only hiding, they were behind locked doors.[10] But this time of isolation didn’t last for them, nor will it last forever for us. Sooner or later, things will go back to some kind of normality.

We will once again be able to gather and to enjoy each other’s presence. Yes, we’ll once again show off Easter bonnets and hunt eggs and flower a cross. But we won’t be able to go back to exactly the way things were, and that’s okay. This was true for the disciples, too. They didn’t go back to those carefree days of traveling around Galilee with Jesus. But that was okay, too, because they were experiencing something new and even better. They got to tell the world the good news.

          This is the meaning of this “great pause” we are living through right now.[11] In a way, we’re given a gift. We have the time we need to ponder what’s important in our lives. And if we can hold on to what’s important, what we value and cherish, our lives after things return to normal will be much richer. Friends, use this time, this gift, to grow closer to our Lord and to learn to depend upon him. And if we do that, we can be like Mary Magdalene, so when our Savior through the Holy Spirit calls us by name, we’ll be ready to answer. Amen.

 

©2020

[1] Luke 8:2

[2] Inspired by John 20 and an article on Mary Magdalene in Frederick Buechner, Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who’s Who (New York: Harper and Row, 1979), 101-103.

[3] In the worship service, the Reverend Deanie Strength will do the opening monologue of Mary Magdalene’s thoughts and read the Scriptures.

[4] 1 Corinthians 15:20

[5] N. T. Wright, Surprised by Scripture, (New York: HarperOne, 2014), 209.

[6] While John’s name is not given, it is generally assumed that he is the other disciple.

[7] For such rules from all nations including the United States, see https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v2_rul_rule113

[8] John 10:3.

[9] Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012), 1152 & 1154.

[10] John 20:19.

[11] The term “great pause” comes from Julio Vincent Gambuto, “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting,” April 10, 2020, https://medium.com/@juliovincent/prepare-for-the-ultimate-gaslighting-6a8ce3f0a0e0.

Jesus in the Garden

Jeff Garrison
Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church
Mark 14:32-43
April 5, 2020

 

Our text for today, as we finish looking at the events of Jesus’ final week of earthly ministry, is his prayer in the Garden. It’s a time of temptation. Jesus is worried. He knows what will happen and grieves. He’s troubled. A lot of us may be like Jesus on this night, as we worry about the future and this unseen enemy that we all face. May we learn from his prayer.

As we’ve done throughout this Lenten Series of looking at the events of Jesus’ final week of earthly ministry, we will use a painting. This painting come from the African country of Cameroon. We see Jesus praying while his inner-circle of disciples nod-off. Let’s imagine what Peter is thinking as he falls asleep.

          Too much wine, perhaps. Or maybe I’m so sleepy because I’m just so very tired. This week is taking its toll. Watching our every step, wondering when the other shoe will drop, afraid that the commotion stirred up about Jesus will result in something terrible. I’ve been on edge ever since we got here.

          But oh my, that parade! Who would have thought that this man I met on the shores of my fishing spot would turn out to be three years of non-stop surprises?! The entrance into Jerusalem was more amazing than all of it combined. I felt sure that I was part of something that was going to change everything! Now I’m not so sure. Not everyone, it turned out, was so pleased about Jesus’ arrival here. We’ve been under scrutiny for days.

          Then tonight at the table, Jesus revealed that one of us was about to hand him over. My gut turns over with the thought of it. Could we, who’ve become family, my family, turn against one another under pressure? Fear threatens our very bonds!

          So why put ourselves out here in the open? I need to stay awake, keep watch! I’ve got my sword. I know Jesus told me not to bring it, but come on! All he seems to think we need to do is pray. He asked us to pray with him. Yes, I pray, I’m praying, I’ll fervently pray! But is it enough? How can God help us if soldiers arrive? And yet… I’m so sleepy.

 

Soloist sings: Enter
Enter the story
Enter the place you belong
Not just looking on
For this is your story
Enter the story

 Enter
Enter the passion
Enter the place we belong
Not just looking on
For this is our passion
Enter the passion
[tag] Enter the story…
Enter the passion…
Enter his passion.[1]

          There are many paintings of Jesus praying in the garden in addition to this one from Cameroon. One of my favorites hung in the Session room in the congregation I served in Utah. I always felt it was an appropriate picture for a board room. Board rooms often have photos of the company founders, or the company president. Such paintings remind us of our heritage. Having Jesus in a church board room reminds us of who’s really in charge. It’s not the Session. Jesus Christ is the head of the church.

In this painting, Jesus overlooks Jerusalem. A few lights can be seen in houses below. Just above the horizon, a full moon hangs in the sky but it is partly covered by clouds or fog and you get the sense that landscape might soon be totally dark. By the way, since Passover occurs at the full moon in the Jewish month of Nisan, this part of the  that something sinister will soon happen. Looking back on this final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry, we have been given hints all along that something isn’t right, something is going to happen. Now, we’re at the decisive point. Does Jesus go through with this plan or not?

        Leaving the bulk of the disciples behind, Jesus takes the three disciples that consist of his inner-core and heads into a garden. For those steeped in Scripture, a garden recalls the perfect adobe of Adam and Eve, but also the temptation that occurred there.[2] And certainly, now, Jesus is to be tempted once more, perhaps ever a greater temptation. Does he follow his Father’s will and endure the shame and pain of a crucifixion? Or does he slip out of town and head back to Galilee? This is a pivotal point.[3] Does he go forward and experience the horror of an abandoned death? He can still back out, but that won’t be the case once Judas arrives.

Matthew and Mark both identity this garden as “Gethsemane,” a Hebrew word that means oil press. Luke says it’s on the Mount of Olives, which is a fitting places for an oil press, and John’s gospel says this occurs across the Kidron Valley, which cuts between the temple and the Mount of Olives.[4] So essentially, all the gospels are in general agreement on the rough location of Jesus’ prayer. And they agree that he prays fervently.[5]

         Jesus positions the three disciples close by. While he wants to be alone with the Father, he also wants to be close to friends. He asks them to stay awake. Yet, they immediately fall asleep. Was it the wine? Was it the exhausting schedule? Are they worried and depressed and the only way they can shut their brains off is through sleep? Jesus steps away and prays, then comes back to check on the disciples. He does this three times. Each time, they’re asleep. This compounds his troubles. He will have to go through the experience all alone. After his third trip back to the disciples, he arouses them and announces the arrival of the betrayer.

         What can we learn from this story? Let me suggest three things. First, to prepare ourselves for trouble, we need to take our concerns to God in prayer. Prayer is important even when we know the answer we’ll receive might be no.[6] God the Father wasn’t going to remove his cup, yet Jesus prayed. We might pray, “Lord, take this cancer away.” Sometimes God does, sometimes God doesn’t. But in praying and in bringing our personal concerns to God, we are drawn in closer to our Creator, and that’s a benefit that can help us cross troubled waters.

At a time like the present, we all need to be in prayer, for ourselves, our friends, and the world. We need to pray for our leaders, for those who are sick, for those who have lost loved ones, for those who have lost their jobs, and for those who are treating and fighting the virus. But we also need to pray for ourselves, our own struggles and for our own peace of mind. For we can endure almost anything if we have God on our side.

         A second thing we can learn from this story is that there is a benefit of being supported in prayer. While God will hear our prayers, there is something to be said about having others praying with us. Like they were in the garden, separated by some distance, and like us now dealing the COVID-19 and being separated by six feet, we need to remember that we don’t have to lay hands on one another for our prayer to be effective. We must be willing to ask or to be asked to pray. And when someone asks us to pray for them, we should consider it an honor and fulfill their request. It helps to be supported in our prayer.

        And finally, we learn that even when we fail come through (and we’re all human and won’t always do what we should), we should remember that God doesn’t abandon us for petty failures. Look at the disciples. None of them could keep their eyes open on this most important night of their lives, but Jesus didn’t throw them under the bus. Instead, he faithfully kept his promise and even though Peter would go on to deny him, Jesus would use him to build his church. In fact, these three—Peter, James and John—would all become major players in the church following the resurrection. So even if we fail, don’t lose hope. Keep going and trust that God is with you.

These are tough times in which we’re living. Let us do what we can to support one another. We begin our preparation in prayer. Amen.

 

©2020

[1] This edited monologue and song is from the Worship Design Series: “Entering the Passion of Jesus: Picturing Ourselves in the Story.” Subscription from www.worshipdesignstudio.com.

[2] Amy-Jill Levine, Entering the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Week (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2018), 133.  See Genesis 2 & 3.

[3] William L. Lane,  The Gospel of Mark: NICNT (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1974), 516.

[4] See Matthew 26:26, Luke 22:39, and John 18:1.

[5] John’s gospel doesn’t have Jesus praying in the garden, but while still at the table. His prayer isn’t even for himself, but for his disciples and is found in John 17.

[6] Levine, 132.  

In Memory of Baseball (a poem with a recording and a book review)

The 2020 baseball season was scheduled to kickoff this past weekend. Unfortunately, it has been postponed due to the current pandemic. So here is a poem I wrote this weekend (you can even listen to it–how neat is that) along with a review of a book I recently read with my book club on the 1949 baseball season. Enjoy and wash your hands!.

I am not sure why there is not the arrow to start in the strip below, but if you click just to the left of the 00:00, you can start the recording. It’s a minute and 16 seconds long. 

David Halberstam, Summer of ‘49, (1989, New York: HarperPerennial, 2002), 354 pages, with a bibliography, index, and some black and white photographs.

 

In the post wars years, as players returned from the war, baseball captured the imagination of Americans. It was America’s sport. Football and basketball prominence was still in the future. The ballpark was a place where the melting pot vision could be witnessed firsthand. Immigrant children like the DiMaggios (there were three brothers who played in the majors) were second generation Italians and stars. Then, staring in 1947 with Jackie Robinson, African-Americans were included in the roosters. Postwar ball reached a new height with the thrilling 1948 pennant race in the American League. In the days before playoff series, the top team in each league went to the World Series, and if there was a tie, there was a one game playoff. Three teams were in contention in ‘48: the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox’s and the New York Yankees. The Indians won, leaving the younger Red Sox’s and the older Yankees disappointed.

The 1949 season turned out to be just as exciting as the Yankees and Red Sox’s battled it out for the American League pennant. The season began with the Yankees great Joe DiMaggios (who’d bridged the team from the Ruth/Gehrig era to the Mantle/Maris era) being out with an injured foot. The other great hitter was the Red Sox’s Ted Williams. Also playing for the Red Sox’s was Joe’s brother, Dominic. It was an exciting season in which the Yankees won the pennant in the last inning of the last game as the two teams battled it out.

Halberstam, who was a teenager during this season, captures the excitement that came down to the final inning. Once again, the Red Sox’s are disappointed. The Yankees win. Halberstam tells the story of this season, providing insight into the financial workings of baseball as well the changes that were taking place. This was a time when players still mostly traveled in trains, but planes were making their debut. It was also a time that most games, which had previously not been broadcast locally, were being on the air and great names were emerging in the broadcast booth, many who would soon become the well-known reporters who overshadowed the previously honored sportswriters. Even television made an appearance during the World Series. And for the Yankees, new names were rising up such as their new manager, Casey Stengel, and their rookie catcher, Yogi Berra. Other players who would grow into greatness were also beginning to make themselves known such as Willie Mays (whom the Yankees took a pass on due to his race).

Although I have never liked the Yankees, I was impressed with their teams discipline and how they instilled hard playing in each member of the team. Joe DiMaggio exemplifies this when asked why he plays so hard in games in which little was at stake and he responded that there might be someone in the crowd who’d never seen him play. For anyone who enjoys baseball, this is a good read.

The Second Dinner

Jeff Garrison
Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church
John 13:1-20
March 29, 2020

 

 

Before reading the scripture, I want us to take a look at our image for the day, which can help us get into the text. We’re looking at part of a mural by the late David Paynter titled, “Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.” The setting is along the Sri Lankan coastline. Zoom in on the guy on the left, a servant, who’s looking at what’s going on.[1] Let’s get into his head:

Jesus and the disciples have booked my master’s banquet hall. I have prepared everything according to their wishes and am ready with the water and basin as I always am. Years ago, my parents gave me to the owner as collateral for the debt they owed. But things did not go well for them, and the debt was never repaid. And so, I work to pay it off. Roman law says that someday I could be a freed person, but I will never again have the full rights in society. I’m marked as a slave for life. I keep my head down and do what the master asks because legally he has the right to punish me.

          So, here I am with the bowl, just waiting for the go-ahead. The honored guest will be first, of course, and I know which one he is by where he’s seated. This is protocol, everyone has a place according to status. When he shows up, I recognize him and remember the stories I have heard about this teacher. He says things that upset those invested in this system of status… things like “the last shall be first.” I just can’t imagine a world like he describes.

          And then he comes up to me. Smiling, he takes the basin of water from my hands. He takes my servant’s towel and wraps it around his own waist and kneels, inviting Peter to come sit. This is going to be no ordinary night. I realize my life, my view of myself and my station in life, is never going to be the same.

Sung:
Enter
Enter the story
Enter the place you belong
Not just looking on
For this is your story
Enter the story

Enter
Enter the passion
Enter the place we belong
Not just looking on
For this is our passion
Enter the passion
Enter the story…
Enter the passion…

Enter his passion.[2]

Our Scripture this morning comes from the 13th Chapter of John’s gospel. Read John 13:1-20.

Last week we explored the first meal recorded during Jesus’ final week of earthly ministry. This is the dinner in Simon’s home interrupted by the woman with perfume anointing Jesus. Today, we’re looking at the second meal of this week. Of course, there weren’t just two meals eaten during these seven days. These are just the two recalled in the gospels. Both meals are rich with symbols. Last week, we could almost smell the expensive perfume being poured. This week, we have the bread and the wine, the foot washing, and the betrayal, all mixed in. We know this dinner as the “Last Supper” and there’s enough material here for two dozen sermons. I promise I won’t exhaust the passage.

All four of the gospels have these stories about Jesus’ final meal with his disciples. John’s gospel, unlike Matthew, Mark and Luke, has a unique twist to it. Instead of it being the Passover, it’s the day before the Passover. You could say that in John’s gospel, they start partying early! Seriously, John wants us to think of Jesus as the Passover lamb, the one who was slain for our sins.[3] So the crucifixion occurs on Passover. The other thing John emphasizes is that there is evil lurking, but Jesus allows it to go on. It’s not like Jesus was dragged to the cross, as would have happened with most of those condemned to such a death, but that Jesus willingly gives up his life to fulfill a greater purpose. So, Jesus allows Judas to do his deed.

Interestingly, unlike the other gospels, John doesn’t recall Jesus reciting the words of the Lord’s Supper… There’s no, “This is my body broken for you…” or “This cup is the new covenant…” Instead, we’re told that as they enjoy the meal, Jesus does something strange. But before we get there, John tells us that Jesus loved the disciples to the end. Now, this can be taken that Jesus loved the disciples all along, up to this point, but there’s more here than that. It’s not merely a chronological statement, implying that up to this point in time Jesus has loved his disciples. Instead, it implies the fullness and completeness of his love. He will love them unto death, which will become clearer as the events of the night and next day unfolds.

Jesus then assumes the role of the servant. For those of us living on this side of the resurrection, we immediately think of Paul’s “Christ Hymn” in Philippians, where we’re told that “Christ emptied himself, taking the form of a slave.”[4] Like a servant, like the dude in the picture whose job this should have been, Jesus goes around the table with a basin and washes the disciples’ feet. This is an example of extreme humility and sets up the rest of our reading. There are two implications of Jesus’ action. The first, which is covered in verses 6 to 11, is theological. This deals with our relationship to God. The second, covered in verses 12-20 is ethical. It focuses on how we relate to others.[5] Let’s look at each.

Peter has a problem with what Jesus is doing. In his book, this is just not right. The Master shouldn’t wash the dirty feet of the disciples. But Jesus not only offers to do this, he insists that he must. In verse 8, Jesus says that if he doesn’t wash Peter’s feet, he’ll have no share in him. The Gospel is summarized in this short sentence. We must be open to Jesus taking on our sins, washing them away, if we want to be in fellowship with him. This is the theological part of this passage. If we think we are too good or to dirty for Jesus to wash our feet, we won’t be able to share in his free grace.[6] Jesus freely takes up the towel and basin, just as he freely takes up the cross, and we have to accept him. Theologically, if we are not open to God doing for us what we can’t do for ourselves, we can’t experience grace.

The second implication of the foot washing is ethical. “I’ve done this for you,” Jesus says, “so you need to do it to one another.” Jesus has shown us how to live our lives. We are called to live in mutual service, showing submission to one another, being willing to forgive when we are wronged, and having patience. All these traits, Jesus demonstrated. We too must learn from the Master. We must be willing to follow his example.

So how do we live this way at a time when we’re called to keep our social distance for the sake of society? Obviously, Jesus wasn’t worried about COVID-19 when he washed the feet of his disciples, and these days we’re told, again and again, to be sure to wash our own hands. We are living in a unique time. After all, we been called to sit on the couch and watch TV as if that’s a sacrifice. But we got to do more. We are still the church deployed in the world.

Who wasn’t moved by the story of the priest in Italy whose parishioners purchased him a respirator? But the priest insisted the respirator be used on a child who was ill.[7] He died. That’s showing the extreme side of what Jesus is talking about here.

But there are other things we all need to be doing. Staying away from others and isolating ourselves will help slow this disease. With the marvels of technology, we can still be connected through the phone and over the internet. And don’t forget the U. S. mail. The Session and Pastors of this church have made a commitment to call every member every week through this crisis. If you don’t get a call, let me know. We’ll see to it that you are included. And you can join us in calling and checking in on one another. After all, we do have new directories that are well suited for this. There are those who live by themselves and are lonely. Let’s do what we can to stay connected. We can also uphold one another in our prayers. We can write letters of encouragement. We can still be supportive of organizations that are making sure the most vulnerable in our communities are safe and cared for during this scary time. Did you know that this congregation collected 190 pairs of socks on the last day we were able to meet in worship? This Monday, those socks will be taken to Union Mission to be distributed.

Finally, we’re living in a time when we should be extremely grateful for others. Think of the sacrifices others are making, as they assume the role of the servant. Those work in the hospital, whether they are doctors and surgeons or the cleaning staff, they’re on the front line for us. And how about those who work in the club here at the Landings, working hard to get for food and groceries to us. Those who pick up our trash. And don’t forget the grocery workers, those in the shipping industry, those making masks and gowns for the medical profession. At a time like this, we need to remember all these people we depend on and be thankful and grateful.

Jesus comes before us at the table, with a towel wrapped around his waist and a basin. He kneels. Do we let him wash our feet? And, if so, are we willing to humble ourselves and serve others in the manner that he has served us? These are questions we need to ask ourselves. Amen.

 

©2020

[1] A copy of this mural is in the “Art in the Christian Tradition” collection at Vanderbilt Divinity Library in Nashville, Tennessee. The original is in Trinity College.

[2] This edited monologue and song is from the Worship Design Series: “Entering the Passion of Jesus: Picturing Ourselves in the Story.” Subscription from www.worshipdesignstudio.com.

[3] This image of Jesus as the Passover lamb becomes clearer in John’s revelation.  See Revelation 5:12 and 6:1.

[4] Philippians 2:7.

[5] Frederick Dale Bruner, The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Grand Rapids, MIhigan: Eerdmans,2012), 749.

[6] Bruner, 765.

[7] https://nypost.com/2020/03/24/italian-priest-dies-of-coronavirus-after-giving-respirator-to-younger-patient/

Two Books and Two (or three) Wars

If you have time on your hands as we wait out this pandemic, there are two good books that I recommend to anyone who enjoys history. In they cover three wars (Mexican, Civil, and World War II).

S. C. Gwynne, Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson (New York: Scribner, 2014), 672 pages including appendix, notes, bibliography, maps. There are eight pages of black and white photos.

Stonewall Jackson was an amazing man. Deeply religious, somewhat of a hypochondriac, who had led an honorable but not overly impressive life, he rises to the top during the Civil War. Gwynne portrays his life and death in a compelling manner that shows not only what he meant for the Confederacy but also to America. At the end of the book, he may have overreached when he suggests that Jackson’s death at the height of his career was the first major death in this country by someone at the height of their fame. While the nation had lost former presidents and war heroes, most had been out of office or their deaths came years after their military career. Jackson’s death, mistakenly shot by his own troops, occurred just after his army won a major victory over a much larger Union army at Chancellorsville. In two years, Lincoln’s death would be the next major American hero to die at the zenith of their life.

Jackson was a man who overcame many obstacles. He was orphaned at an early age and sent to live and work with relatives in Jackson Mill, Virginia (now West Virginia). However, Jackson was ambitious and while not a great student, he was able to work himself into West Point. There, he worked very hard as it was quickly evident that he was not prepared for the rigorous course of study. By the time of his graduation, he had come from the bottom of the class to graduate at number 17. His class of 1846 would produce more generals than any other class at the Academy: 22 in all, 12 for the Union and 10 for the South.

In the Mexican war, Jackson stood out as a brave officer, one whose artillery unit held its ground against a much larger Mexican force at the Battle or Contreras, just outside of Mexico City.

After the Mexican War, Jackson served at a military post in Florida before taking a teaching position at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. He was considered a poor teacher except for in the subject of artillery.  He was known for his Puritanical habits, but also had a happy home life until his first wife died, along with her daughter, in childbirth. He would marry again. Anna, his second wife, would also lose a child. In 1862, staying with her parents in North Carolina (her father was a Presbyterian pastor and president of Davidson College), she gave birth to daughter whom Jackson would only see for a few days including the day he died of his wounds. Jackson, while very private in person, was much more social and warmer with his family. This biography liberally quotes from Jackson’s personal letters that show his warmth.

Jackson was also a very committed Christian and a member of the Presbyterian Church. He had considered the ministry, but never became a a public speaker. He was a Deacon and started a Sunday School for African Americans in Lexington, both slaves and free. Interestingly, while he owned six slaves, they were obtained in a unique manner. His second wife received three as a wedding present, but the other three had been purchased by Jackson. The first, Albert, had asked Jackson to buy him and to let him work off his bondage for freedom. Jackson did and leased him to VMI as a waiter. When he was ill, Jackson took care of him, and before the war, Albert had paid Jackson for his purchase. Amy, his second slave, was about to be sold to pay a debt of her master. She, too, asked Jackson to buy her. And the third slave he purchased was a young girl owned by an older woman in town. This girl had a learning disability and Jackson agreed to buy her, thinking she could be useful to his wife. The three slaves that came with Anna included her nurse from infancy and her two teenage sons. Anna would teach both boys to read.

Much of the book is about Jackson’s rise to one of the great military geniuses of the Civil War. Being from the Virginia mountains and lacking the “blue blood” of Virginia’s planter class, Jackson was initially looked down on by many within the Southern leadership. This had also been the case when he was a he had been a student at West Point and a few of those earlier feuds (from “Blue Blooded” Virginians) continued into the war years. Jackson became a hero at First Manassas (Bull Run). Then, given command of the mountainous area in Western Virginia, he crippled three much larger Union armies that had been sent against him with a plan to burn the breadbasket of the Shenandoah Valley. Jackson was known for the element of surprise, pushing his men harder to do what no one thought possible. He was not one to share much information with others, including his commanders. These had to learn to trust his commands. Jackson was also strict as a commanding officer, demanding obedience of his orders. Often, his strictness, especially his punishment of those under his command, were overruled by the President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis.

Jackson was involved in the Peninsula campaign. During this campaign, Jackson failed on several occasions to achieve the initiative but coming on the aftermath of his victories in the Shenandoah Valley, his failures may have resulted from exhaustion. He would later take a lead role in routing the Union Armies a second time at Manassas. Afterwards, at Harper’s Ferry, he captured the largest group of soldiers up to that time ever captured in America, even larger than the number of British who surrendered at Yorktown. A few days later, at Antietam, Jackson was responsible for the Union’s inability to break the Confederate lines and achieve a victory. He would later be responsible for the Union disasters at Fredericksburg. During the winter of 1862-1863, Jackson spent time encouraging religious revivals and establishing a chaplain corps for the Confederate Army. As the winter waned, Jackson’s brilliant strategy at Chancellorsville stopped the Union attempt to move behind the Confederate Army. It was there, where he was shot in the arm and hand. His arm was amputated. He would later die of his wounds. His was a glorious career, that was cut short by a mistaken identity.

This book reads like a novel. It is the second book I’ve read by Gwynne. A year or so ago, I read Empire of the Summer Moon. Both are excellent reads. Gwynne’s research is impressive, and his writing is engaging.

###

MY-WAR-by-Andy-Rooney

Andy Rooney, My War (1995, NY: Public Affairs, 2000), 333 pages including an index and a few black and white photographs.

Like many Americans, I always enjoyed listening to Andy Rooney. He was the best part of the CBS news show 60 minutes and even if I missed the show, I tried to catch Rooney’s monologue at the end. Reading this book about his war years, I could hear his voice and imagine him reading the words to me.  The book is filled with insight and humor, as only Rooney was able to pull off.

Rooney was in college before the war. The draft had begun, and he had been called up for the Army. He trained to be in the artillery. Even back then, Rooney was something of a troublemaker. He told about one officer whom he disliked and who was bucking for a promotion. Rooney’s job was to put the right amount of powder bags into the gun behind the projectile. They would call out the coordinates and the bags of powder needed, and Rooney would either put too many or two few and the projectile would either fall short or overshoot the target. The officer didn’t get the promotion. After the war started, Rooney’s unit headed to England, where he received a lucky break. He transferred into the correspondence pool, become a writer from the Army’s Stars and Stripes newspaper. With a million Americans in Europe, the newspaper was a major production. It was also a training ground for those who would step up and take starring roles in American media for the rest of the century.

While in England, Rooney was assigned to a wing of the 8th Army Air Force. He would write stories about the mission and the men whose daring raids over German was attempting to crush the German industrial might. But it was a costly business as planes were often lost behind enemy lines. As a correspondent, Rooney even had an opportunity to go on such missions, including one horrific event that he describes. In this book, he also writes honestly about what he didn’t write for the newspaper. He’d heard and witnessed many horrors that he wouldn’t report on because it would not have been good for morale

As D-Day approached, Rooney was assigned to go ashore with the Army. He spent most of the rest of the war driving his own jeep around Europe in search of stories. At times, he was dangerously close to the enemy and at other times he was enjoying the good life of food and wine. He did miss out on the Battle of the Bulge when he was temporarily reassigned to New York (each of the correspondents took turns of working a few weeks in the New York offices).  But he was back toward the end of the war. When other reporters told him of the horrors of Buchenwald (one of the German concentration camps), he wouldn’t write about it as he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He set out to see for himself, an event that continued to haunt Rooney for the rest of his life.

As the war in Europe came to an end, Rooney had a chance to travel to American bases in India, Burma and China, before traveling home.

I appreciated Rooney’s insight on heroes, which he suggests that it’s best that we don’t meet our heroes. Hemingway had been a hero of his, until he met him in Europe. He was never much of a fan of General Patton, which he remarked in one of his 60 minutes monologues. He recalled how Patton’s daughter wrote to inform him that her father wouldn’t have been impressed with him, either.

My biggest complaint about the book was Rooney’s take on my home state of North Carolina. He didn’t like the state and even questioned why his friend and North Carolina native Charles Kuralt liked it so. Sadly, Rooney had the misfortune of spending 6 months in barracks at Fort Bragg, which is one of the less nice parts of the state.

A couple of quotes:

“Patriotism and war go together. Anytime anyone gets to thinking patriotism is one of the supreme virtues, it would be a good idea to remember that there was never any group of people more patriotic than the Nazi Germans. It’s strange that a love for country brings out the vicious character in so many people. In that respect, it’s a lot like religion. Here are two things that almost everyone believe are good, patriotism and religion, but between them they account for almost all the people who ever died in a war.”

“The whole business of reporting makes me suspicious of history.”

###

How are you handling this pandemic and avoiding crowds? Read any good books lately?

 

Taking a Risk at the Table

Please remember, especially during this time when we need to maintain social distance from one another in at attempt to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, that you can always worship virtually with Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church on Sunday mornings at 10 AM Eastern Daylight time.  Just go to sipres.org and click, “Watch Live.”  The sermon will also be available to watch later this week on our church website. 

Jeff Garrison 
Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church
Mark 14:3-9
March 22, 2020

 

 

As we’ve done in the first few Sundays of this series, let us concentrate on this painting that depicts the passage I’ll read. Focus in on this guy, looking down as this woman who is anointing Jesus. Let’s get into his head. Listen:

        None of us are happy with the way things are going in Jerusalem. It’s not just the political oppression. We’re troubled by the dire situation of the hungry, the poor, the sick, and the disturbed. The Roman’s don’t’ care about them? At least we try. Every penny we scrape up we try to pass on to those who need it. Before Jesus arrived for dinner, some of us were also wondering if we should save some money in case we needed to hide out in the not-too-distant future.

          And then SHE walks in.

          Look at that beautiful alabaster jar! Get a whiff of the oil. This is expensive stuff! And a whole bottle. How much does this stuff cost? It seems a ridiculous waste, given what we had just been talking about. This kind of money could go a long way.

          Look at her. She’s not said a word. Yet she is intense and devoted. This love lavished on him is somewhat embarrassing and yet it’s what I really want to do—tell Jesus how he has changed my life and how finally I have a purpose. I’m loved, and it’s such a gift. But how can I offer any gift to Jesus. He’s “The Messiah,” anointed by God. But here she is anointing him! I’m jealous and fear we are losing him. He tells us to stop judging her. “She is preparing me for burial,” he says. No! Don’t say that, Jesus. It can’t happen.

Soloist sings: Enter
Enter the story
Enter the place you belong
Not just looking on
For this is your story
Enter the story

Enter
Enter the passion
Enter the place we belong
Not just looking on
For this is our passion
Enter the passion
Enter the story…
Enter the passion…
Enter his passion.[1]

 Let’s listen as I read of this story from Mark’s gospel. Listen for the differences.  Read Mark 14:3-9.

         There are two big meals highlighted in the final week of Jesus’ earthly ministry.[2] We all know about the Passover meal, the Last Supper, but a few days earlier there’s another highlighted meal in which a woman enters and anoints Jesus. In two of the gospels (Luke and John), like the picture we see, the woman anoints Jesus’ feet.[3] In Matthew and Mark, from which we read today, the story is of the woman anointing his head with oil, something that might be done for a king.[4] Reflecting on this scene, Dale Brunner suggests it serves two purposes. It’s a call to worship. Jesus is to be worshipped, something that will come clearer in less than a week, after the resurrection. The second purpose is as an illustration of the double-love commandment Jesus used to summarize the law—the love of God and the love of others. This woman demonstrates her love of God through her unselfish actions toward Jesus. And Jesus, by protecting her dignity, shows how we can care for others.[5]

 

Think for a minute about this woman. Because this story is told a little differently in each of the gospels, we tend to get it all mixed up. In Luke’s gospel, she’s identified as a sinner. Her presence upsets those around the table. But that’s not the case in Mark’s gospel. She’s totally anonymous. Luke may have been describing a different event. If that’s the case, both women take risk to show love and devotion to Jesus Christ, and that should be a message to us.[6] What kind of risks are we willing to take for our faith?

 

Jesus is at a banquet in a home where he can relax. He’s reclining. It’s a laid back affair. He’s with friends. We’re not sure who Simon is. It was a popular name back then. But being labelled “the leper” takes the reader back to early in Jesus’ ministry when he cured a man with leprosy.[7] Leprosy was generally an illness that created isolation, but maybe, if he’d been healed by Jesus, he’s proud of the description and continues to use it after his healing as a way to honor Jesus. Maybe this was a dinner party in honor of Great Physician?

        Now consider the risks this woman takes. She shows up uninvited. She shocks the guests with her generosity. Ever give a gift and wonder and worry if it would be accepted? Her gift does upset those around the table. Why isn’t this money being given to the poor? They ask. Jesus’ protects her dignity, saying she’ll be remembered because of what she’s done. And Jesus doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say we’ll always have the poor, but he won’t be around long, at least not in person.

The verse concerning the poor always being with us is possibly the most misinterpreted passages in scripture. Think of all the times you’ve heard this passage quoted in support of inaction when it comes to helping the poor. I bet many of us, and I’m guilty, too, have used this passage in such a manner. But it’s a misuse of scripture. Jesus is quoting the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 15:11 reminds us that we will always have the poor, but because of that, we should always be willing to help. “Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbors in the land.’”[8] The ubiquitous poor are not there so we can opt-out from helping. They are there to remind us of our need to help others.

          In Matthew’s gospel, we’re told that helping the poor and needy, the sick and the prisoner, is the same as helping Christ,[9] but here she is able to do something to show her devotion and love. It’s kind of like buying flowers for someone. They may seem frivolous as they don’t heal us or enrich us. In a few days they wither. But we don’t give flowers for such reasons. We do it because we want to be able to do something, to show our love and concern. This woman can’t keep Jesus from the cross,[10] but she can do this, and she does.[11]

          What can we do? We certainly can’t heal the world, just as the woman couldn’t keep Jesus off the cross. But what kind of risk might we take for Jesus? Things are changing so rapidly around us. It’s scary. But we need to remember, this is not the first time Christ’s church has witnessed pestilence. In the 14th Century, a large percentage of the population died from the plague, but at the same time Great Cathedrals were being built.[12] Our call is not to fear and worry. Our call is to be faithful to Jesus. If we are sure that Jesus, as Lord, has our best interest in his hands, we can take risks that will further the kingdom and do good for others.

There are going to be a lot of hurting people in our world in the near future. Not only will we have to deal with folks who are infected, and a small but not insignificant percentage who may die. But we will also have to deal with those who are so traumatized they aren’t sure what to do. We’re going to need to encourage those who are depressed. In the short-term, we’re going to need to find new ways of connecting beyond handshakes and being physically present. And then they’re those losing their jobs as the economy contracts. I fear it will only get worse. We are going to need to support them. We’ll need to live fearlessly, trusting despite evidence to the contrary that God has things under control. This is a time that we as the church and as individual believers need to be bold and positive. For we’re on God’s side and our Savior won’t abandon us.

          This woman might be seen as a fool for Christ. She faced ridicule, but Jesus protected her dignity and honored her. Don’t be afraid to be a fool for Christ. For our Master will take care of us. Amen.

©2020

[1] This edited monologue is from the Worship Design Series: “Entering the Passion of Jesus: Picturing Ourselves in the Story.” Subscription from www.worshipdesignstudio.com.

[2] Three of the four gospels place the woman anointing Jesus at the table during his final week of earthly ministry. John’s gospel names her “Mary.” In addition to this passage, see Matthew 26:6-13 and John 12:1-8.

[3] Luke 7:36-50 and John 12:1-8.  Luke’s gospel, unlike Matthew, Mark and John, place this event earlier in Jesus’ ministry, not in the week of his death.

[4] Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9. Anointing the head may symbolize Jesus’ kingship. It was often something done to honor guests (which the host may not have done on this occasion). And it’s also points to Jesus’ coming death. See Morna D. Hooker: Black’s New Testament Commentaries: The Gospel According to Saint Mark (1991, Hendrickson Publishers, 1997), 327-328.

[5] F. Dale Brunner, The Churchbook: Matthew 13-28 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 599.  

[6] For this idea of her taking risks, see Amy-Jill Levine, Entering the Passion of Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to Holy Week (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2018), Chapter 4, “The First Dinner: Risking Rejection.”

[7] Mark 1:40-45.

[8] Deuteronomy 15:11, NRSV.

[9] Matthew 25:31ff.

[10] There are two types of anointing. She anoints Jesus (GK: myrizo) brial. Anointing for kingship and as “the anointed one” or the Messiah uses another word (GK: mashiach). See Levine, 95.

[11] Mary Ann Tolbert, Sowing the Gospel: Mark’s World in Literary-Historical Perspective (Minneapolis, Fortress, 1996), 274.

[12] See Barbara W. Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (New York: Knopf, 1978.

Where do our loyalties belong?

Jeff Garrison
Skidaway Island Presbyterian Church
Matthew 22:15-22
March 15, 2020

 

 

        If you read the entirety of Matthew 22 (and with the extra time we may be having on hand as everything is being cancelled because of the Coronavirus, it’s not a bad idea), you’d witness a masterful campaign to trap Jesus. But Jesus isn’t so easy to catch. He’s kind of like Stonewall Jackson in the Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862. Jackson faced much larger armies who wanted to trap and do him in.[1] Similarly, with Jesus during Passion week, he’s confronted with a large number out to destroy him. But Jesus doesn’t fall in their traps. Jesus bewilders his enemies.

         What’s happened is that unlikely groups join together to challenge Jesus. The old cliché, “politics make strange bedfellows,” rings true. Groups who wouldn’t normally give each other the time of day have come together to take on Jesus. They sense that Jesus is challenging the existing order. You have a few Herodians, who are Jews who believe they’re be better off cooperating with the Romans. They take their name from Herod, who had Jewish blood but worked for the Empire. And you have the Pharisees; a group of seriously committed religious leaders who believe in the resurrection. Theologically, they’re most like Jesus, but Jesus constantly challenges them and exposes their hypocrisy.

        What we read this morning could be described as one movement in a tag-team wrestling match. The Herodians and the Pharisees team up on Jesus.[2] Once they are dismissed, in the next passage we have the Sadducees, the conservatives of the day, crawl up on the mat.[3] According to most translations, Jesus’ “silenced them,” but the original language is a bit harsher. A better translation would be that Jesus “muzzled” them.[4] Think of muzzling a dog!  Jesus is on a roll! But the Pharisee’s still come back for more.

    So what is Jesus telling us in this passage? Do you remember those big posters that use to sit out in front of the Post Office and government buildings with Uncle Sam pointing his finger and saying: “I want you!” I believe we could easily surmise this text into a big poster of God saying: “I want you!”

Let’s now look deeper into the passage. We’re told that the Pharisees are plotting to entrap Jesus. How does Jesus know this? We could say that because he was God he knew, but that explanation does not uphold the human side of Jesus. The human side of Jesus would have realized something was up when he saw the Pharisees and the supporters of Herod walking hand in hand.

These two unlikely groups approach Jesus. They try to butter him up a little by telling Jesus he’s sincere, he speaks the truth, and that he is impartial. This Jesus’ second clue. “For flattery is on their lips, but their heart is set on their gain,” we read in Ezekiel.[5] Most of us, I would expect, are smart enough to realize something fishy is up when those who have nothing to do with us began to butter us up. And that’s what happens here. With compliments, they try to catch Jesus off-guard before snapping the trap with their sixty-four thousand dollar question.

         “Tell me,” they ask, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”  Jesus has to be careful. Last week you heard Deanie preach about the revolutionary act of Jesus cleaning the temple. Now they want Jesus to make a revolutionary statement against the civil authorities. If Jesus says they should not pay taxes, the Herodians could have him arrested for treason. But then, if he says to pay the taxes, the Pharisees can attack him for not being a patriotic Jew.[6] It’s almost a no-win situation.

          Jesus asks them for a coin. Unlike us, he didn’t have to worry about where that’s coin has been or picking up some a virus from its surface. However, Jesus still has to be careful. The disciples, we know, had a common purse and he could have gone there to fetch a coin, but then the Pharisees might have charged him with toting around an engraved image of the emperor.[7] So Jesus has them to look at a coin they are carrying, and he asks them whose picture is on it…. They reply, “Caesar’s.” Jesus then flips the coin back to them, saying give Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to give God what is God’s. The little band of tempters are astonished. They are amazed. They don’t know what to say, so they leave.

These men are amazed, but do they understand all that Jesus says? They hear “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s,” but do they hear “Give unto God what is God’s.” Do they understand what Jesus meant? Probably not for they continue their attempts to attack Jesus throughout this chapter. But let’s not worry about them. How about us? Do we hear what Jesus is saying? Back to that revised army poster of Uncle Sam saying, “I want you!” Jesus is saying, “God wants us!”

The coin had an image on it, Caesar’s, therefore give it to him. In Genesis, we’re told we’re created by God, in God’s image.[8] The coin belongs to Caesar, it bears his image; our lives belong to God, they contain God’s image.  Caesar may have a lien on our possessions while we’re on earth, but God has a lien on our total being—now and forever.  God is calling us to dedicate our lives. God, in Jesus Christ, is in that poster pointing, and saying, “I want you.

        Give to God what is God’s.  This phrase is often overlooked.  We tend to get hung up on what is Caesar’s and what is ours. We get hung up on the petty details and we miss the important question. What does it mean for us to give ourselves to God?

Sure, a part of devoting ourselves to God is about money, but it’s more than that. Money is only a start for God wants and expects much more from us. God wants us to trust him and then to do what we can to live in a manner that will further God’s work in the world. If we believe that we are owned by God and not Caesar, our lives should reflect such faith. If we believe that we belong to God, and are in God’s hands, we have nothing to fear, not even the Coronavirus. For regardless of what happens to us on this earth, God has us in his hand and is working out all things for good.[9] That may be hard to believe considering that panic that is going on around us, but it’s true. It’s why Christians for the past two thousand years have risked their lives and their well-being on behalf of others. Yes, we can give Caesar what is Caesars. But we can also take risk and do what is right and noble and good because we have trust in God.

         Earlier I mentioned Stonewall Jackson, whose biography I’m currently reading. But let me tell you two other Civil War stories, they’re both short, and demonstrate this point. At the Battle of Shiloh in the spring of 1862, Albert Sidney Johnson led the Confederate troops as they overwhelmed the Union forces near Pittsburg Landing along the Tennessee River. It was a bloody day and the Union lines were broken in places. During a lull in the first day of battle, Johnson, seeing a number of wounded Union soldiers in need, ordered his surgeon to set up an aid station and to tend to their needs. According to Shelby Foote in his novel about the battle, his surgeon, Dr. Yandell protested. Johnson cut him off saying “These men were our enemies a moment ago. They are our prisoners now. Take care of them.” A few minutes later, a stray bullet struck Johnson’s leg and without medical aid, he quickly bled to death.[10] To this day, there is debate as to whether or not Johnson’s death caused the tide of the battle to turn. But the tide did turn and General Grant became a national hero.

          A second story comes from the city of Wilmington during the Civil War. In 1862, a blockade runner that had come in from the Caribbean brought Yellow Fever to the town. Those who could fled to the country, but several of the pastors and the leading citizens of the town stayed behind, feeling it was their Christian obligation to help out the victims. Over 400 people died of Yellow Fever that fall, including many of those who intentionally stayed to care for the dying.[11]

Of course, with the current threat we face, we need to think about our response. We need to help when and where we can, but we also need to be wise enough not to become a carrier of the disease. So while mercy might call us to act boldly, it also might call us to isolate ourselves (especially if we’ve been recently travelling and could have potentially been exposed to the illness). Such isolation might help slow the spread of the disease and, with the phone and the internet, there are many other ways that we can read out to those for whom we care and love. The Christian faith calls us to be brave, after all we don’t belong to ourselves but to God. But it also calls us to be wise!

      Give to God what is God’s, is the message here. So yes, we should pay our income tax. And when you write that check this April, we might remember that giving Caesar his due can be a lot easier than giving to God what is his. For our whole life belongs to God. But then, God’s given us life and in Jesus Christ has redeemed us to be his people. That’s a debt we can’t repay, nor is such repayment expected. As the old hymn goes, “Jesus paid it all.”[12]  Amen.

 

©2020

[1] I have been reading S. C. Gwynne, Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson (New York: Scribner, 2014).

[2] Matthew 22:15-22.

[3] Matthew 23-33

[4]  Frederick Dale Bruner, The Churchbook: Matthew 13-28 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 410.

[5] Ezekiel 33:31b.

[6] Bruner, 397.

[7] Bruner, 398.

[8] Genesis 1:27.

[9] Romans 8:28.

[10] Shelby Foote, Shiloh (1952, New York: Vintage Books, 1991), 199.

[11] James Sprunt, Chronicles of the Cape Fear River, 1660-1916 (1919: Wilmington, NC: Dram Tree Books, 2005), 286-288.

[12] “Jesus Paid it All,” Elvira Hall (1865).