On Tuesday morning the pastors of Lutheran Saints in Ministry gather in Fairborn Ohio to discuss the texts for Sunday.

These are the contributions that are brought to the table.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Revelation 7:9-17 Greek Studies

Greek Study Revelation 7:9-17

v9 μετα ταυτα "after this" - a new vision, not a sequential set of events. Commentators divide on whether the visions are different, i.e. is the "144,000" the same as "the great multitude"? It seems likely this vision complements the first and now John is describing the redeemed who have come through the tribulations. 
αριθμησαι (αριθμεω) aor. inf. "[no one is able to] count" - infinitive is complementary, an idiom, the crowd was too many/large to count. Who are they? It is often argued they are the martyrs but this is unlikely. In John's mind they are probably his own generation.
εστωτες (ιστημι) perf. part. "standing" – another idiom meaning to "tend  like a servant”.

v10 κραζουσιν (κραζω) pres. "they cried out" - durative "they keep on crying out."
φωνη (η) dat. "with a [loud] voice" λεγοντες (λεγω)  saying.
τω θεω (ος) dat. "[Salvation belongs] to God" – a dative of interest, there is no verb, but can be translated as "we are saved by God." In the context salvation refers to coming safely through the tribulation. 
τω καθημενω (καθημαι) dat. pres. part. "who sits" – God sits, servants stand.

v11 οι αγγελοι (ος) "[all] the angels" – an image of the heavenly court
κυκλω + gen. "around [the throne and ....]" των πρεσβυτερων (ος) gen. "the elders" - Debate rages as to whether these are human, ie. representing the resurrected saints of Israel, old and new, or angelic  but their function seems to be worship and administration. των τεσσαρων ζω/ων gen. "the four living creatures" - surround the divine throne, possibly one in front, one behind, and one either side – a visual of the holy of holies in the Temple. 
επεσαν (πιπτω) aor. "they fall down" - prostrate themselves face down before God’s throne.
προσεκυνησαν (προσκυνεω) aor. "worshiped

v12 λεγοντες (λεγω) pres. part. "saying" αμην "amen" - the angels confirm the worship of  the multitude and then give their own tribute to God.
τω θεω (ος) dat. "be to God" - Dative again no verb in this sentence, the attributes are  ascribed to God.
των αιωνων (ος) gen. "[forever] and ever"

v13 και "then" εκ + gen. "of [the elders]" - this preposition usually expresses source but  here it serves as a partitive genitive; so "one of the elders."
λεγων (λεγω) pres. part. "asked [me]" – here an Aramaic idiom "saying" = spoke/asked/answered and said.
οι περιβεβλημενοι (περιβαλλψ) perf. part. "[who are these] in [white robes]" - 
ποθεν "where [have they come] from?

v14 ειρηκα (αιρω) αυτω/ perf. "I answered" κυριε μου "my Lord" the respectful address  to an important person.
συ οιδας (ουδα) "you know" – the "you", is emphatic, "so the purpose of the question is to show John does not have the answer and needs divine interpretation. 
οι ερχομενοι pres. part. "they are the ones coming” the tense of a participle is durative  in nature and so conveys the idea of “have come, are coming and will come”.
της θλιψεως της μεγαλης "the great tribulation" - the eschatological troubles of the last days. 
επλυναν (επλυνω) aor. "they have washed" - the main verb is in the past tense. This serves to counter the wrong impression that the ones who have come through the tribulation are limited to believers from the present and future.  Those whose robes are washed εν + dat. "in [the blood]" – means that the sacrifice of Jesus, is the instrument by which cleansing takes place.

v15 ενωπιον + gen. "before [the throne]" - This first blessing describes ease of access to  God.
λατρευουσιν (λατρευω) pres. "serve" - durative action – a continuous priestly service, "night and day", ie. without a break. 
τω ναω (ος) "[in his] temple" - there is no temple in the kingdom but there is the realm  of God's eternal habitation.
ο καθημενος (καθημαι) pres. part. "he who sits [on the throne]"
σκηνωσει (σκνηοω) fut. "will spread his tent [over them]" - will tabernacle with  them. Here we have God's first provision for his people; He will cover, or dwell or  “shelter them with his presence."

v16 ετι adv. "[never] again [will they hunger; never] again [will they thirst]" - Temporal  adverb forms a temporal clause; "no longer". God's second provision for his people is that  they will never hunger or thirst again; reflecting the daily struggle for survival and harks  back to the wilderness journey. The promise is eschatological.
ουδε μη πεση/ (πιπτω) aor. subj. "[the sun] will not beat [upon them]" – a subjunctive  of emphatic negation, God's third provision for his people is this image of the cooling of  the desert-sun's scorching heat – a powerful image for someone who cannot afford an air  conditioner in Ohio in August. The end of all traffic jams, all lines, all 9 to 5 drudgery,  TSA checks, etc.

v17 ανα "at [the center of the throne]" - preposition, when identifying position, gives the  the sense of "at the middle", "in the midst", "among". 
ποιμανει (ποιμαινω) fut. "he will shepherd" - a common image for an agricultural   people but John’s letter is to urban dwellers so here it is likely metaphorical, to shepherd  as in ‘to lead”. 
ζωης πηγας υδατων "springs of living water" Cities in ancient times were subject to siege, those who had a spring (living water) as supposed to cisterns (water stored) were more likely to survive - stagnant water bred disease and pests. 

εξαλειψει (εξαλειφω) fut. "will wipe away" - remove every cause of pain and sorrow.

John 10:22-30 Greek Studies

Greek Study John 10:22-30

v22 εγενετο τοτε "then came" - the variant τοτε usually indicates a close connection with the preceding passage. 
τα εγκαινια "the feast of dedication" - the festival that celebrated the Maccabean  victory over the Syrians in 164BC and the rededication of the Temple after Antiochus IV.
εν τοις Ιεροσολυμοις (α) "at Jerusalem" - the article particularizes, but is unnecessary. It is likely that the Feast of Dedication could be held in regional centers also which necessitates mention of Jerusalem.
χειμων ην "it was winter" - or possibly "wintery weather". 

v23 περιεπατει (περιπατεω) imperf. "walking" - imperfect is durative expressing ongoing, rather than customary actions.
του Σολομωνος "Solomon's [Colonnade]"  According to Josephus, the eastern outer court of the Temple – a colonnade that surrounded the temple proper - the eastern one was dedicated to Solomon.

v24 εκυκλωσαν (κυκλοω) aor. "[The Jews] encircled/surrounded implying a threatening  press. 
ελεγον (λεγω) imperf. "saying" - a durative imperfect which implies ongoing  questioning, so they gave him the “second degree”.
εως ποτε "how long" αιρεις (αιρω) pres. "will you keep [us in suspense?]" literally “make us hold our breath”? While the implication is suspense, some commentators note in modern Greek the sense is to "provoke or annoy" which better fits the situation given that the Jews are unlikely to be asking for a clear declaration of who he is so that they can believe in him. The authorities want something to use against him.
ο χριστος "the Christ" παρρησια/ (α) dat. "[tell us] plainly" dative expresses the manner of the speaking. The motive of the request is unclear. The Jews may be frustrated Jesus has not clearly stated who he is OR they may have already decided he is not the Christ and want evidence to use against him.

v25 ειπον aor. "I did tell [you]" - Jesus was open with the Samaritan woman but there is  little evidence of him speaking plainly to the crowds in other circumstances. 
και "but [you do not believe]" - adversative.
τα εργα (ον) "the works
εν τω ονοματι του πατρος μου "in my Father's name" "In the name of" often with the  sense " with or under the authority of".
μαρτυρει (μαρτυρεω) pres. sing. "testify" the verb is in the singular while the subject is  in the plural – points to an oral source.

v26 αλλα "but" ου πιστευετε (πιστευω) pres. "[you] do not believe".
οτι "because causal. εκ + gen. "[you are not]" preposition expresses source.
των εμων "of my [sheep]

v27 ακουουσιν (ακουω) pres. "listen to [my voice]" children of faith give heed to Christ's  words and are known by Christ indwelling Spirit.

v28 καγω "I" αυτοις dat. pro. "[give] to them" ου μη + subj. "never [perish]"  a double negative with subjunctive idiom = never.
εις τον αιωνα "into the age” idio = forever 

v29 ο προ who μοι dat. pro. "to me" παντων gen. adj. "than all
αρπαζειν (αρπαζω) pres. inf. "[can] snatch" - infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "is able."

v30 εν neut. "[I and the Father are] one" - Jesus is talking about a unity of action. When it comes to the protection of the flock, both the Father and Son are in agreement. This verse was central to the great Trinitarian debates and was interpreted differently by all. For those who argued God is one and the persons of the trinity are but manifestations of that oneness, "one" was their big line. The Arians went to the other extreme and argued that the text reveals a moral unity between the Father and the Son, but nothing more.

Somewhere Seals are opened- A Meditation on John 10:22-39 and Revelation 7

“By the white robes (Rev 7:9) he means the gift of the Holy Spirit.” — Caesareus of Arels

It is Jerusalem at the commemoration of Judas Maccabaeus’ rededication of the Temple after the successful revolt over the Greeks about 200 years prior. The religious leadership is approaching Jesus again. They keep asking the question: “Are you the Messiah.” By now Jesus has done six of his great signs with the raising of Lazarus the only one remaining. Yet, for some reason, the question: “Are you the Messiah,” will just not go away. Investigations into the miracles have been had (Ch 9) but no conclusions were reached. 
Yes, Jesus has been questioned. He has said that he was the door for the sheep and that he was the Good Shepherd. It really does not get more obvious than that. Yet, on a day that nationalism runs high in an occupied Jerusalem perhaps one can forgive the question: “Are you the Messiah?” If he is the one, why is he not doing Judas Maccabaeus one better? 
We will not read it on Sunday, but there is a good reason Jesus is not terribly clear. The simple fact is that no one really wants to hear the answer. When the discussion in today’s text ends, stones are picked up because suddenly those who want the Messiah are angry that the Messiah, the son of the blessed, would actually stand before them. To be honest, if the Messiah can’t admit that he is the Messiah because you would stone said Messiah for saying that we was the Messiah then can you ever actually have a Messiah?
Yes, they ask the question: “are you the Messiah,” but they really have no way to handle the answer if there was a hint that the answer might be “yes.” The information is not for them. You either see or you do not. You see the signs and believe as the beloved disciple does. You see the folded grave clothes and believe. Or you do not. Somehow there seems to be a barrier. It is either up or you hear the voice of Jesus and believe. 
To put it another way: The Father has either called you and led you to Jesus or, well, the Father hasn’t. (Jn 6:44) You are of Jesus’ flock or you ain’t. When he speaks you either hear God speak or you do not. When you see a charcoal fire at dawn with an enigmatic figure inviting you to have breakfast of bread and fish — fish you know not how they were gotten because you certainly had caught nothing all night (Jn 21) — you either realize it is the Lord or you do not. When bread and cup are lifted you realize the Lord in with and under the bread and vine or you do not. In other words, if you have to ask: “Are you the Messiah,” then you are not one of Jesus’ flock.
Somewhere in heaven “seals” have been opened. That opening brings on calamity on a, pardon the pun, biblical scale. The horsemen of the Apocalypse are being released and visit their tribulations onto the world. It gets so bad that the martyrs beg the Ancient of Days: “please, let this end,” only to watch the mighty and the lowly alike being overcome by catastrophe and begging the mountains to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. (Rev 6:17) “The wrath of the Lamb?” That’s a phrase you don’t hear too often, but here it is. 
Then there is an interlude. The multitude of 144,000 are sealed. Note: John of Patmos knows their number and origin: they are from the tribes of Israel. Right after that, another multitude, one that no one can number (7:9) is seen and they are singing of blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might given to God and to the Lamb upon the throne. 
This multitude, who are they? They are those who have persevered in their allegiance to Christ in spite of all the calamity and catastrophe that was thrown at them. They are dressed in robes made white in the blood of the Lamb — not their own blood; these are not the martyrs, those were in 7:11 where they too are given their white robes. No, all these robes are made white in Christ’s blood. They are those who were baptized and the angel of eternal death passed over them. They stand at the ready to serve Christ in Heaven as they had been on earth. 
The white robes, they are the Holy Spirit, says Ceasareus of Arels. Those who are clothed with the Holy Spirt do not ask of Christ: “Who are you?” They do not have to. Instead they praise him, says Revelation. They look to the beach and know it is the Lord and do not dare ask: “Who are you” for they all know it is the Lord because the Holy Spirit has counseled them concerning it, says the Gospel of John, though it seems they need time to get used to it. (Jn 21:12)
In a way the problem really is in the question: “Are you the one?” The better question would have been: “Tell us who we are?” But, that question assumes that you would accept the answer and that you would acknowledge Jesus as the authority with the answer. 
When Jesus says: “I am the vine you are the branches,” it is said to the disciples who have accepted that authority. When he asks: “do you love me,” to the point that you ache that he is asking (Jn 21:17), you bear with it because you are his disciple, his lamb, his branch, even if right then your are being pruned. To pull away is unthinkable. It would mean death by the predators in the wild or oblivion on the burn pile where the dry, dead branches go. (Jn 15:6) John of Patmos has a burn pile as well. (Rev 20:10)
It is Good Shepherd Sunday again. Yes, “I am the Good Shepherd” is in Chapter 10 somewhere and it is the claim that brings on the argument that unfolds and drives Jesus to slip away until it is time to save Lazarus. Once the shepherd is discovered the next question is really simple: “Who am I?” The next thing to do is also very simple: “Will you follow?” And a third question is like it: “Will I live in Faith no matter what comes?” 

These are Easter questions. Now that I have seen the Resurrection — though I am to so sure what I just saw and how it figures — will I rearrange some things in life because though life looks the same today, and maybe worse, in all reality, all has changed? And the Holy Spirit whispers: “Your cup, it overflows. Sing! Sing of blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power, and might to God and to the Lamb. He was and is and is to come. Amen!”

Monday, April 22, 2019

John 20:19-31 Greek Study

John 20:19-31 Greek Studies

Greek Study John 20:19-31

v19 ουσης (ειμι when it was evening 
τη μια σαββατων "on the first day [of the week]
κεκλεισμενων (κλαιω) gen. perf. pas. part. having been shut the perfect tense emphasizes the locking, now complete. 
εστη εις το μεσον stood in the midst carries here both a sense of motion toward and at  rest in.
υμιν dat. pro."[peace be] with you" - dative of interest; an idiom meaning "I pray that all  may be well for with you".
v20 ειπων (λεγω) aor. part. "after he said [this]
 εχαρησαν (χαιρω) aor. pas. "were overjoyed" - thrilled.
 ιδοντες (ειδον) aor. part. "having seen”.
v21 παλιν adv. again καθως "so as" – a comparative.
αποσταλκεν (αποστελλω) perf. "has sent" - perfect tense indicating the action is completed with ongoing ramifications.
 καγω and so I adjunctive. πεμπω pres. "I am sending" – an emphatic present tense  indicating ongoing action.
v22 ειπων (λεγω) aor. part. "[and] saying that" - participle is adverbial, temporal; "and when  he had said this".
ενεφυσησεν (εμφυσαω) aor. "he breathed" – a hapax legomenon, possibly reflecting the divine breath in creation – a clash with Luke's account of Pentecost - one would expect that this is the appropriate moment for the empowering of the disciples for their ministry, but its clash with Luke's Pentecost account is not easy to explain. Pentecost is the moment we witness the outpouring of divine power so maybe John's account is inward?
λαβετε (λαμβανω) aor. imp. "receive" - translation "receive" is ingrained, but possibly  "accept", even "welcome" makes more sense.
v23 αν + subj. "if" - a conditional clause, 3rd class, where the condition stated in the "if"  clause (protasis) has the probability of coming true; "if, as may be the case, ...... then ....."  In English the use of "if" conveys doubt, in the Greek, certainty.
αφητε (αφιημι) aor. subj. "you forgive" - the word order makes "forgive" emphatic. To release a person of the consequence of their sins. This authority is given to the apostles and it is reasonable to argue that it extends to all believers. 
 τινων gen. pro. "anyone's [sins]" - genitive is possessive.
 αφεωνται (αφιημι) perf. pas. "they are forgiven" - a proleptic perfect tense.
κρατητε (κρατεω) pres. subj. "do not forgive"  

v24 ο λεγομενος (λεγω) pres. pas. part. "the one called Didymus"  the participle serves as a  substantive, standing in apposition to "Thomas". As a nickname, "Twin", seems a bit far  fetched.

v25 ελεγον (λεγω) imperf. "[the other disciples]said. imperfect may express ongoing action,  "they kept saying to him".
εωρακαμεν (οραω) perf. "we have seen" - as with Mary in v18, but these are men so the witnessing holds greater impact.
των ηλων (ος) gen. "[the] nail [marks]" – literally the nail scars
βαλω (βαλλω) aor. subj. "put [my hand]" – a strong word, so "thrust my hand into his  side."

v26 μεθ ημερας "a week later" - after eight days counting the following Sunday.
κεκλεισμενων (λκειω) gen. perf. part. "though [the doors] were locked" - The participle is adverbial, but given that the participle is part of a genitive absolute construction, temporal is more likely; "When the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them”.

v27 τω Θωμα (α ας) "to Thomas" - Dative of indirect object.
 μη γινου απιστος "stop doubting" - do not generate unbelief; the command takes the present imperative, here the cessation of action, so "stop doubting".
 αλλαÄ"but [believe]" – a strong adversative.
v28 ο κυριος (ος) "My Lord" - usually taken as a vocative; "you are the one who rules over  me.
v29 μακαριοι adj. "blessed" -  a state of joy in response to benefiting from God's favor.
 οι μη ιδοντες (ειδον) aor. part. "are those who have not seen" - participle serves as a  substantive, the aorist is gnomic, expressing a universal truth.
v30 σημεια (ον) "miraculous signs"- the original ending of John, or at least that secgiton  often referred to as the “Book of Signs”..
 ενωπιον + gen. "in the presence of [his disciples]" - possibly temporal; "while he was  with his disciples."

v31 γεγραπται (γραφω) perf. pas. "written" – the perfect indicating completion of the writing. What is written is written. A very important statement in that it declares John's purpose for writing the book, a purpose which is clearly evangelistic.
ινα + subj. "that [by believing you may have life]" - a purpose clause, but also a  consecutive clause expressing result; "and so (as a consequence) gain life by 
 πιστευοντες (πιστευω) pres. part. " believing" - the participle is modal, expressing  manner, so "through this faith".

εν τω ονοματι αυτου "in his name" – the  preposition εν may be expressing the sense of corporate union, that is God's gift of eternal life is found in union with his Son - "name" = person; so "in union with the person of Christ". "The name" can also carry the sense " authority of", such that εν would then take an instrumental sense, "by, through, or with = under his authority."

John 20:19-31 Refelction

Are you the One?

Without Easter we are history -- Carl E. Olson

A week after the resurrection events another appearance of Jesus occurs: The appearance to Thomas. This timing of the Gospel of John has obviously led to the habit of appointing that text to our lectionary every second Sunday of Easter.
I tell a story of a congregation in Washington Sate now and again. They were rich with woodworkers once and did much of their own work. One of those projects was the altar complete with the carving work on the face of it. The piece is absolutely beautiful. But, this is the here and now where things are kind of imperfect. The artist was an expert carver. He was not a student of antiquities or the Roman numeral system. As a consequence, the second table of the law is numbered as follows: IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, XI, X. Don’t see the mistake? Look again . .  Now you saw it! Yes, there is a question that this altar asks: What exactly is the 11th commandment? Being one who loved the Gospel of John, Pr. Phil Falk of blessed memory began to answer that question by saying: “Thou shalt be community.” (Jn 15:17)
In the continuity of the Gospel of John, Jesus’ greeting to the disciples at his first appearances is really a matter of continuity. His peace he leaves with them, not the worlds peace, but his peace. (14:27) The denial of Peter, and the unbelief of Thomas are the result of the false peace of and with the world. Does the world actually have peace to give and is what it can give actually peace? Let us remember that for 30 years the world kept “peace” by a system of mutually assured destruction. We now call it: “The Cold War.” Or is that: “the cold peace?” Maybe it is the same thing.
In a cold peace the Peters of the world do what it takes to stay alive, knowing their lack of faith and loyalty and oddly scared by the most common occurrences, even the noise of a rooster, that jolt their consciences back to their guilty states. In a cold peace the Thomas of the world live in hopeless disappointment with deep cynical scars on their sense of trust, having been betrayed by the world’s disposal of their hopes. In a cold peace the Mary Magdalens of the world cry by graves morning not just death but total deprivation of all that they love — even the dead tokens of the cherished memory seems to have been taken from them leaving them to wonder if everything that ever mattered to them actually ever happened. (20:13) 
Peter can live on but will always be guilty to the core by his own reckoning but putting on a brave combative front to cover it up and make sure you do not remind him. Thomas will live on, but never hope, commit, or trust again, wondering if anything really matters. Mary will live on but always wonder if anything is really real or if this is all but a crazy dream or, to use the bard’s words, a tale told by an idiot.
As Jesus appears post resurrection these are the people and the realities that he addresses person to person. Others witness Jesus, but these three get their names linked to a particular resurrection encounter. Those encounters have a certain commonality: He is familiar but he is strange somehow. He is not recognized. He is not expected. He is ambiguous but the situation eventually reveals it is he. (20:15, 20:26ff, 21:4ff) Yet in all these he is eventually recognizable precisely by the very scars that the world carved hoping to gain and maintain its cold version of peace. The fact that he lives exposes that that peace is a lie. His words tend to address the malaise of their souls so to take them out of the world’s peace and into the peace that he is bidding them. 

It is an otherworldly peace that they are to live in and under, this group that shall be community. It seems to be the peace of the disciple that Jesus loved. The one who knew the servants at the high priests home and got Peter into the courtyard, yet himself in equal danger did not deny Jesus. He is also the one who saw and believed at the sight of the folded grave clothes. He is one who recognizes the voice and ways of Jesus in the work of the Spirit in the midst of the community. He is the one who follows and will follow until eternity should Jesus will it. (20:9, 21:7, 21:20) He was handed over to Mother Mary at the foot of the cross and he inherited her as his own mother in that moment as well. He somehow believes. Are you the one? 

Monday, April 8, 2019

Reflection for Luke's Resurrection Texts, Luke 24:1-112

Winter is almost over now. I will miss it as I somehow like winter. Winter has a smell all its own. You can smell cold or rather you can smell the nothingness of the cold when temperatures really plummet. The air carries no scent of its own. The wind brings news of wood fires far off. The pig farm a mile away. The diesel truck being warmed up next door.
Spring on the other hand is rich in scent that needs no wind to carry it to you. Spring makes itself known by scent long before the eye cast on the fields and lawns alert us to the greening of the land. By the time the pastures gain their springtime emerald hue, their grasses have long since seeded the air with the smell of growth. That smell is ubiquitous it becomes the new background scent that mixes and often confuses other smells.
Between these two times of the year, in the place I live, stands late February and early March, skunk season, a rude assault on the nose. A whiff of it renders anyone incapable of smelling anything else.
As Mary, Peter, and the beloved disciple exit the tomb they do so with very different attitudes. John tells us that: “as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” (Jn 20:9) The latter
will not happen until Jesus breathes the Spirit unto them. (Jn 20:22)
Mary assumes that the body has been stolen and she persists in that conviction even after she had a vision of angels. She persist in it even after her eyes lay hold of the risen Jesus. (Jn 20:15)

Peter walks away. John does not tell us right then what his thoughts might have been. He just went home. (Jn 20:10) It might be premature to mention it, but he will require special attention later as it seems he is in danger of falling away into old patterns of living by returning to being a fisherman. (21:3)
The beloved disciple sees what the other two see. He, as yet, does not understand the scripture either. But, says John: “he saw and he had faith.”
Mary and Peter come to the same place as the beloved disciple. Thomas will as well, but they do so on the basis of a personal call. Jesus has to call Mary by name to have her sense who is standing before her. Jesus will call Peter to make an either/or decision on the beach. These are all personal challenges by the risen Jesus. The beloved disciple seems to be cut of a different cloth. He saw Jesus die. He is keeping Mary of Nazareth safe as part of his family as if she was his own mother. (Jn 19:27-28) The story is unfolding round
about him in confusing ways and he has faith. Even though he does not now understand, even though he sees an empty tomb, he remains loyal and trusts that he will see the Glory of God. (11:4) He shows what utter loyalty, even in the face of utter desolation, looks like.
We think of winter as a time of desolation. Winter has a cold — pardon the pun — clarity to it. Its smells are easily discerned. The sound of the lonely crow or hidden owl are easily pinpointed. The movement in the thickets is visible and recognizable to the interested eye. Yet, it is somehow sterile, antiseptic, and hostile to life, new or old.
Spring is a time of much more confusion. Smells abound and and are not easily locatable because there are just too many of them. The song of a hundred robins makes it difficult to pinpoint the individual. The advancing green makes the movement in the hedgerows invisible. But it is the time of living and new life from the rot of the old. Life is messy. It often confuses the senses, often doing so on purpose. Witness: The skunk. One thing life is not is sterile and antiseptic. For those who seek simplicity and clarity or simple pathways and pointers, spring is desolation by an overload of the senses.
The story of the Resurrection as John tells it is not for those who love everything nice and neat, clear and simple. The main characters, it seems, have to be called personally into faith, except the enigmatic beloved disciple. He seems to be navigating it in a spirit of detachment from the confusion of the senses. He sees but he as faith and remains loyal no matter what. Everyone else is overloaded by the first scent of eternal life and either walks oblivious or overwhelmed, or perhaps they are still numb by the skunk like scent of death.
And so walk we. Evidence of eternal life might surround us. How would we know though? This Jesus is the Son, the LORD. Quietly everywhere but hidden in life ever so noisy, ever filled with so many distractions and things covering the scent for anyone who would try to seek him. Where is he found?

And so we gather with the Mother of Faith and share in bread and wine. Will we see? Will we smell? Will we taste? Will we have faith? Will the skunk get the better of us?