Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Nine years into retirement from formal day-job and career commitments seems hardly possible for me. I officially retired from ‘formal’ Christian service in summer of 2008. That statement is not to be understood as retirement from Christian service or ministry. The key is the word ‘formal.’ I am a follower of Christ. Easter Sunday has now come and gone. The resurrection of Jesus Christ remains the essential element of Christian faith. ‘Gospel’ is good news. There is no gospel without the resurrection. If the resurrection did not happen for Jesus Christ, then nothing that he told humanity can be believed and further there is no divine forgiveness of human sin and there is no hope for life beyond the grave. However, I am convinced that the Bible concentrated upon personal testimonies that affirmed Jesus revealed himself demonstrably alive after his violent execution and further, that all that pertained to him had been prophecied hundreds of years earlier. His arrival on earth, his death and his resurrection was a divine plan. In the act of dying, he who was sinless through three decades of living, sustained punishment for all of human sin, and he could do this because of who he is. He is the one included in the conversation in the garden of Eden as God spoke as a plurality, “Let ‘us' make man in ‘our’ image, according to ‘our’ likeness. He is the one about whom the apostle John wrote when he said, “all things were made by him and without him nothing was made that was made.” Jesus has been invested in human spiritual and moral wellbeing from the beginning of our human race. Sin so soon tarnished the reflection of God in humanity. Jesus’ death makes possible the restoration of the image and likeness of God in each person who trusts the good news summed up so memorably in the words, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” In these retirement years that rush me forward to my completion, my service is confined, no longer speaking weekly to several hundred people, but rather to the few I randomly meet in our housing community, and at the golf course where I marshall and play, and through my contacts with artists and clients. Occasionally I am given the privilege of preaching from scripture as I once did regularly. Interestingly, almost cruelly, I remember as a young inexperienced pastor preparing and preaching twice on Sundays, teaching two or three times each week, and yet now I have doctoral level knowledge, the wisdom of years, acquired communication skills, the confidence of experience, and the understanding that I can accomplish nothing of significance without God. What’s missing is the sustainable energy for a full-time ministry commitment. Everything about a three score plus ten plus five human has frayed ends. What is important is for me to be faithful to my vows, my promises to God. Ultimately, that is the commendation for which I am waiting. 

In keeping with the Easter and resurrection theme here is a painting of interest to me. 
Ron DiCianni is an American illustrator/artist specializing in Christian themes. His ‘Resurrection’ mural measures 12X40 feet and commissioned for the Museum of Biblical Arts in Dallas, it is the largest depiction of this theme in the world. This size permits the viewer to look into Christ’s eyes. It required two years to complete. Definitive scenes are identified with some great artists, like Michelangelo and his “Creation of Adam” in the Sistine Chapel; Rembrandt, and his “The Prodigal Son.” DiCianni sees “The Resurrection”, as his definitive piece particularly because this act in history distinguishes Christianity from every other religion, philosophy and dogma. It authenticates The Nativity, The Crucifixion of Christ, and legitimizes every word Jesus said concerning Himself and His relationship to God. Blessed Easter to you. (If you care to hear him describe how and why he painted this cast of characters, here is the link,https://youtu.be/-yABivU-AKQ )

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