Dave Dodson, Fort Walton Beach, FL
How do you decide how to spend and how to save your money?
Though I’m a fan of a wide range of music, I must admit that I never cared for the works of rapper Waka Flocka Flame. His earlier albums always seemed to me to celebrate the wrong sort of things: materialism, egoism, and sexual exploits, for a start. Call me old-fashioned, but I like my music humble.
Imagine my surprise, then, when Waka Flocka gave an interview in September 2015 in which he decried his former materialism. In his own words, he recalls an experience in which he travelled to Africa and met a teenaged boy who had never owned a pair of shoes. Ever. Waka Flocka was absolutely stunned by this. As he put it, “That’s why I stopped wearing jewelry! I started traveling, I starting seeing these [people]. I was giving my diamond chains, breaking them apart! I’m dead serious. It changed my perception on life.”
According to Waka Flocka, he now sees the music industry as being meaninglessly materialistic and missing out on what really matters. Instead, he has begun investing his money in technology, healthcare, and environmental programs.
It’s the last part of Waka Flocka’s quote that gets me the most. Remember, he said, “It changed my perception on life.” In other words, rapper Waka Flocka Flame experienced a rebirth. His entire perspective changed, and it affected his values and his priorities in a very tangible way.
- Have you ever spoken with a friend or family member after not seeing them for years? Was it difficult or strange to talk with them? Did they seem like the same person?
- In what ways are you a different person than you were before high school? In what ways are you the same?
Resurrection of Our Lord, Easter Day
(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings
For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.
Alleluia! Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!
Easter is truly a special time for the Church. Today, we celebrate the culmination of Lent and our season of awaiting the resurrection. Our focus today is on Jesus’ miraculous resurrection from the dead, three days after his death on the Cross. It is that resurrection that serves as the most powerful witness to the divinity of Jesus. As we hear the story of the followers of Jesus finding the tomb empty, we share in their overwhelming joy and amazement: Jesus is part of Almighty God, and he came back for us!
The amazing news is that the resurrection story isn’t only about Jesus! The theme of resurrection and rebirth is incredibly important in Christian theology. Today, let us remember three distinct truths about rebirth and resurrection in our faith:
- God replaces what we release. Many of us choose to give up something for the season of Lent. Often, it is something that we thought we could barely live without (perhaps chocolate, soda, or one of a thousand other luxuries). Yet now, forty days later, we have realized the truth: We were fine without those things. It turns out that God’s love sustains us magnificently, no matter what. This invites us to consider what we’re still holding on to. Are you stressed about school? Are you worried about family and relationship issues? Are you holding onto guilt from something that happened in your past? Give those burdens up! God is there to help us take those burdens off of our shoulders.
- We can always be reborn. We sometimes speak of being “born again” as followers of Christ. This isn’t a one-time thing! We make very human mistakes, and we stray away from God (sometimes even when we don’t intend to). However, we always have the invitation to be reborn. This is the nature of God’s forgiveness: We are given the gift of a new beginning from an amazingly gracious God!
- What is lost isn’t lost forever. You are the one sheep out of the hundred, and the Shepherd is committed to finding you. You are the lost coin, and God will never give up on finding you. Even when all looked bleak, and the disciples had given up hope, Jesus came back. God’s faithfulness is so great that we cannot separate ourselves from God’s divine love. Even if you feel lost sometimes, know that you are never too far away for God to reach.
In Luke 24, we are shown what to expect. Jesus’ followers arrive at the tomb to find it empty. Two men in radiant white (an angels?) tell them that they are looking in the wrong place. Don’t we do the same? We dredge up old fears and stresses, guilt and shame. We won’t find anything worthwhile there. It’s time to leave those in the tomb, for Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed!
- Have you ever felt God’s providence in your life? Have you ever felt that God has put someone in your path to show you God’s love and support?
- If you were one of the disciples on that first Easter morning, what would Jesus’ resurrection have made you feel and do? How would you respond to His resurrection?
- Why do you think the Church places such importance and ceremony on Easter?
We may celebrate the New Year on January 1st, but Easter marks another important beginning in our faith! Celebrate the occasion in true New Year’s fashion by sharing resolutions for your new beginning. What will you do with the fresh start God has given us?
Holy and Loving God, in you we find peace, hope, life, and love. Your power sustains us, and your everlasting faithfulness gives us joy beyond measure. May we reflect your love to all of your creation, bringing a message of hope and rebirth to a tired and hungry world. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.