Seven Stanzas at Easter

I like John Updike’s poem, “Seven Stanzas at Easter,” so much that I bought the book it was published in. Updike does a great job of emphasizing the importance of the real and concrete nature of the resurrection. (Jesus’s body was the first example of incorruptible physicality—the stuff of the new creation.) Here are a couple of excerpts from the poem:

Let us not mock God with metaphor,
analogy, sidestepping, transcendence;
making of the event a parable, a sign painted
in the faded credulity of earlier ages:
let us walk through the door.

Let us not seek to make it less monstrous,
for our own convenience, our own sense of beauty,
lest, awakened in one unthinkable hour, we are
embarrassed by the miracle,
and crushed by remonstrance.
— John Updike

At present, the entire poem is available online at this link:

John Updike, “Seven Stanzas at Easter.” In Telephone Poles and Other Poems (New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 1963), Kindle.


The Cosmic Nature of Salvation

Paul declares that the gospel has already been announced to every creature under heaven ([Colossians] 1.23). What has happened in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in other words, is by no means limited to its effects on those human beings who believe the gospel and thereby find new life here and hereafter. It resonates out, in ways that we can’t fully see or understand, into the vast recesses of the universe. — N. T. Wright

This is a point I have long held, that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ have cosmic implications, but Wright does a better job of putting it into words than I ever have.

N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (New York: HarperOne, 2008), 97.

An Introduction to Theories of the Atonement

Last week, in introducing the Passion reading from the Gospel according to Mark, I stated the truth that knowing the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection is more important than knowing a theory about Jesus’s death and resurrection. That’s still very true, nonetheless, if you want an introduction to theories of the atonement you could do a lot worse than a recent article in The Week titled “Four Competing Theories on the Theological Meaning of Easter.”


Easter Breakfast Potluck

We’ll have our regular 8:15 and 10:30 Sunday morning services for Easter Day tomorrow, but we’ll also have an Easter Breakfast Potluck at 9:30. If you don’t cook or bake, please know that a box of cereal and a half-gallon of milk would be an acceptable contribution. (Especially if that box of cereal is a box of Lucky Charms.)

Good Friday Service Tonight at 7:30

There will be a Good Friday service of the stations of the cross tonight (March 30, 2018) at 7:30 p.m. I’m not sure that any Good Friday service can be called “Child-Friendly,” but this one probably comes the closest. It’s very interactive and involves walking around the sanctuary to see and touch the stations of the cross. Hope to see you there.

Deadline for Lilies

If you’re bringing your own lily in honor or memory of someone (as opposed to having ordered one from the florist via the church), the deadline to drop it off is Friday at noon. If you want the name of the person it’s in honor or memory of printed in the bulletin please let me (John Collins) know by Thursday at 5:00 p.m. Video

This past Sunday, I announced that we’re beta testing an additional new system for electronic giving online or on your phone (we’re keeping all the current ways of giving right where they are). Here’s a 34-second introductory video. I really have found it easy to use. Please contact me if you’re interested in helping us beta test this new service.

God’s Estimate of Our Worth

In Jesus’ life and death on behalf of all human beings, we behold God’s estimate of our worth. — Dallas A. Willard

Let me add, that it’s not just our worth in mass, but our worth as individuals.

Dallas A. Willard. Twitter post, March 25, 2018, 9:44 a.m.,

The Story is the Reality

This Sunday we’ll be reading the story of Jesus’s suffering and death (“The Passion”) in parts. We’ll be reading it in parts because it’s a very long reading, two full chapters: Mark 14:1-15:47. We take the time to read the story because in the words of N. T. Wright: 

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are not simply telling us in descriptive language something that “really” belongs as a dogmatic formula. It is the other way around. The formula is a portable narrative, a folded-up story. The story is the reality—because it is the story of reality, historical reality, flesh-and-blood reality, Israel’s reality, life-and-death reality. — N. T. Wright

You don’t need to know a theory, explanation, metaphor, or model of the atonement, (although these can be helpful) you need to know the story. It is the story that tells us how Jesus defeated the powers of sin and death and launched the new creation of God’s kingdom. Come and hear it again with us this Palm/Passion Sunday, March 25, 2018.


N. T. Wright, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion (San Francisco: Harper One, 2016), 223.