God be with you, brother dear
If you don’t mind me asking what brings you here?
Oh, nothing much, I’m just looking for the man
Need to see where he’s lying in this lost land—Bob Dylan, Goodbye Jimmy Reed, Rough and Rowdy Ways, 2021
“Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.”—Matthew 28: 5-6
Being on the writing team for The Journey is an intellectually stimulating challenge for me. The task is straightforward: pen a short reflection/devotional/rumination that provides a mid-week connection between the worship services. The challenge, at least as I take it, is to do so in a way that does not read like every other five-hundred-odd-word devotion.
To bring a “unique” perspective, I have some tricks up my sleeve that I developed over the years. Holistically, my process allows me to be ready to draft something or present—sometimes off-the-cuff—and that comes in handy in my adventures. It works like this:
· Read. Read all manner of things: fiction, non-fiction, history, essays, cartoons, poetry. The more you marinate in the thing you try to do, the more likely you are to do it well yourself.
· Stay current. News, trends, movies, and scholarship are constantly developing, evolving, and generally happening. Sometimes, current events are great entry points to discuss the past; sometimes, they are solid endpoints for the past.
· Curate. I have a personal book of collected quotes (135 pages and growing), a folder stuffed full of annotations from books and articles, another with odd and random facts that I find interesting, another with pictures that I find fascinating (among my favorites are “odd pairings”—Harpo Marx and Amelia Earhart? Einstein and Charlie Chaplin? Muhammed Ali and Bob Dylan? Mae West, Ringo Starr, and Alice Cooper? I’ve got ‘em.). When you need inspiration, it helps to have someplace to go.
When it’s my week to write a Journey article, I’ll double-check with Nathan to make sure I know what the general direction, theme, or scripture he’s planning on (it’s more embarrassing to duplicate Bible verses than it is to show up in the same outfit); pray for guidance; research the topic; dig into my resources, and write. More often than not, it works. I won’t say I’m always terribly original. I don’t pretend to be wiser by any measure than anyone else I’ve met or read. I can overwrite—both in subject matter and in length—my favorite teacher of all time once noted on an assignment that “your verbosity can be an obscenity,” and she was right. All-in-all, though, I like to think I can bring an honest voice to the work, which makes the writing team stronger.
Why am I telling you all this? Because sometimes, everything I just explained is precisely the wrong way to approach the work.
This is Holy Week. We remember, reflect, and celebrate the culmination of God’s plan for bringing us back into right relationship with him. We examine our hearts and wrestle with the incomprehensible sacrifice that Jesus made for our souls. We gather on Easter Sunday as living witnesses to an amazing grace that saw Death vanquished and the stone rolled away to reveal an empty tomb.
Brothers and sisters, there is absolutely nothing I can write here that could add to the glory of the Resurrection. The only wisdom I can impart is this: Jesus willingly died for us and then conquered Death itself; He rose from the dead in triumph so that every one of us can spend eternity in Paradise with Him. Let’s get to Church and offer our praise.
In Christ our Redeemer,