Monday, April 25, 2011

Widening the Circle

John 20:1-18

Don’t miss the Resurrection!

It is possible to do that, you know. Like poking around in high grass for creatively hidden Easter eggs, hunting for what really happened on that Sunday morning long ago is bound not to turn up much. That is no way to find the Resurrection. In fact, it might even be the best way to miss it.

Like many things that we puzzle over, stand in awe of, find ourselves totally overwhelmed by—things that defy easy belief and yet also persist beyond easy dismissal—Jesus’ resurrection is not so much complex as it is totally at odds with anything we would ordinarily expect. We can understand the physics of tsunamis and appreciate the behavior of sub-atomic particles. We can document the appearances of ghosts and the occasional resuscitation of a corpse. But the resurrection is one of a kind. Ghosts do not eat and drink. And resuscitated corpses do not pass in and out of rooms at will. So all of our stories about the resurrection of Jesus point to its uniqueness. Little wonder that we often don’t know quite what to do with it. And even less wonder that in trying to make sense of it we are likely to ask the wrong questions and look in the wrong places for answers.

To make matters more interesting, we have not one or two but four—count them—accounts, not to mention what you might call a very personal account that we owe to the Apostle Paul. Each account is different, though quite clearly they stem from traditions more ancient than the gospels themselves. The story we hear today is from the pen of the Fourth Evangelist. It is in some ways the most detailed. Its account of the encounter between the grieving Mary Magdalene and the Risen Jesus is among the loveliest stories of all, simply as story. We can almost feel the early morning darkness, imagine the sounds of Mary weeping, sense her shock and surprise when she hears him call her name, picture her reach for him and his drawing back saying, “Do not hold me.” The scene is, in fact, so clear and the story so artfully told that for a minute or two, we can put aside our hunt for the meaning of the resurrection and simply relish the scene.

But our scene comes from John the Evangelist, not John the novelist or John the producer. His aim is to evoke the response of faith—belief—not to garner a Pulitzer Prize or an Oscar. And for John, “belief” is not just intellectual agreement that a resurrection took place and all that goes with it, but a giving of heart and soul to Jesus. Belief for John is the key to connecting with the Risen Lord. John has in mind that other disciple, the Beloved Disciple, the one who, though not the first to go itno the tomb, is the first to see and believe: he is the model for you and me.

We are beginning to get close to what the Resurrection is all about. Notice that the people to whom Jesus appears (like Mary Magdalene) and the people who have not yet seen him (Peter, the Beloved Disciple, and the other nine) are Jesus’ community. That is key. The Risen Lord does not waste time, so to say, appearing to those who never believed in him in the first place. No episodes recount an appearance to Pontius Pilate, to the Sanhedrin, to the Roman soldiers who a chapter ago mocked him with purple robe and crown of thorns. The resurrection is not about proving anything, still less about validating Jesus’ life and miracles. It is about the creation of a community that—to borrow a phrase from St. Paul—will be his body in the world. “By this all shall know that you are my disciples,” Jesus says during his last supper, “that you love one another. As I have loved you, you are to love one another.” And the point of that, of course, is not that the community of disciples simply be a little fraternity enjoying their own special bonding rituals, but to become an ever-widening circle of believers that lay down their lives for the world, who follow Jesus to the cross, who risk all to live the paradox that letting go of their safety and security will assure their lives, while clinging to the familiar is a sure way to lose them.

The Resurrection that draws us here to celebrate today is less about what happened to Jesus than it is about what happens to us through Jesus. The surest way to miss the Resurrection is to confine it to stained glass and lock it up in tabernacles thinking that somehow we honor Jesus by according him a status so special that he could not possibly be emulated, so far from us that we could not possibly follow him let alone catch up with him. The Fourth Gospel is quite clear that Jesus’ entire ministry, the point of his death, the thrust of his glorification was to become the source of life to his community. Jesus prayed, “As you, Abba, are in me and I am in you, may they [the community of believers] also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one,…”

And why does the community exist? So that the world may believe. And if the world believes, truly believes, then the boundary between community and world gradually disappears. The goal of the community is to draw the whole world into itself, just as Jesus, when he was lifted high upon the cross, did exactly that: he drew the whole world to himself. So the circle gets wider and wider as more and more people are drawn into the community of Beloved Disciples. The community that mirrors Jesus’ self-giving love becomes nuanced enough that it is no more bound by definitions of “church” or “institution” than the Body of the Risen Lord is confined by locked doors. The community, empowered by the Spirit breathed into it by the Risen Lord, becomes as courageous as its Lord on his way to glory, carrying his own cross, confident to the last of what he was doing and where he was going. It is ready to get down on its knees and wash the smelly feet of adolescent boys and the lame feet of old diabetic women. It understands more and more that its purpose is not to get to heaven but to proclaim that heaven is here and now because the Eternal God is here and now, having broken into human life by blasting open the tomb of the buried Word and raising him to New Life.

Don’t miss the Resurrection, because it is going to happen twice more in this liturgy this morning. First it will happen when we encircle the font and bring into the New Community of Beloved Disciples two sisters and one brother who will share in the death of Christ by being buried in the depths of baptismal water. They will proclaim Christ’s resurrection by learning to live the life of love so well that somebody and maybe more than one or two will say, “I see in them Jesus Christ, and I believe.” The Resurrection will happen a second time when we encircle the altar to receive what to us tastes like bread and wine but which to our God and Lord feel like flesh and blood. It means the same thing as baptism. One is a bathing and the other is a feeding, but the meal is more than food just as the bath is more than water. They are outpourings of Spirit to make us—what? To make us one—one with each other and one in him. That is the Resurrection you don’t want to miss!

Every one of you, and dozens and hundreds more have a place in our circle at font and altar. We will not cease until every possible soul that we could embrace knows—knows—that he or she has come into a community where there is welcome for the sinner, and more graces for the good, and mercies for the hurting, and healing through the Blood that makes us new and makes us one. Our home, this building, will keep opening its doors the way we open our arms, bidding all to a great banquet where things as varied as square dancing and working for justice, hip-hop and tutoring, demonstrating against torture and chowing down on different ethnic foods, listening to Shakespeare and honoring the art of neighborhood children, singing Bach chorales and Negro spirituals and Latino love songs will be as natural here as picking up a hymnal or opening a prayer book.

You might notice that all of those things are happening now. Yes, they are, because the circle has been widening for some time. Back in the 1950’s when St. Stephen’s was a lily-white congregation, the neighborhood began changing as white people fled to the suburbs after court-ordered desegregation of the schools. Into the neighborhood went Father Stuart Gast, inviting new African-American neighbors to come into the circle. Three years after 1954, St. Stephen’s had remained here, the church declared itself integrated, and the circle was wider. A dozen years later when the nation was torn by the Viet Nam War, protestors and peace advocates found a place to sleep in St. Stephen’s. The circle grew wider. It grew wider still when a woman ordained priest celebrated at our altar for the first time ever in The Episcopal Church. It grew yet wider when gay and lesbian couples and later transgender and other sexual minorities were embraced. It grew wider five years ago when Misa Alegría was born, our Spanish-speaking congregation which has grown to about 15 times the size of the original seed group.

Today, after months of conversation, thought, and prayer, we choose the Day of Resurrection as the time to share with you the direction of St. Stephen and the Incarnation. It is called “Widening the Circle,” because the circle must and will become wider still. We know where we believe God is leading us in the next few years—and what we together have decided we need to do together to widen the circle. But we have no clue as to where the Spirit may lead us beyond that or as a result of our attempts to widen it. But we know that God’s Life is real Resurrection, and we are ready to run to strange places where death is said to be, knowing that resurrection happens most frequently there. We know that any resurrection worth going to is an event that will test our patience and probably find us saying from time to time, “I miss my Lord. By God they have taken him away and I don’t know where they have laid him.” We know that there will be moments when, despite our best efforts, all will seem useless and we will know all over again just what the Magdalene felt like standing there in the chill, sorry and probably angry. And we know, as surely as anything, that when we least expect it, we will hear a familiar voice, calling our name, and we can wonder how we ever have thought he wouldn’t show up as we exclaim, “Rabbouni!” which means, “My Master.”

© Frank Gasque Dunn, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No Hay Amor Más Grande

La Santa Eucaristía y El Lavatorio de Pies

San Juan 13

Tal vez ustedes saben que Jueves Santo es el día que Jesús nos dio La Santa Eucaristía. Pero, es un poquito extraño que el evangelio que nosotros leemos y escuchamos esta noche no dice nada sobre la Santa Eucaristía. En la cuenta que San Juan nos da, la cena no es la Pascua. Pascua no llegará hasta mañana, viernes, a puesta del sol. Por supuesto, Jesús estará condenado a muerte a mediodía de viernes, exactamente a la hora cuando los corderos van al matadero para la Pascua.

San Juan es diferente de los otros escritores de evangelios. Nos da historias más o menos largas de conversaciones, a veces argumentos y disputas, entre Jesús y sus oponentes. En estas conversaciones, San Juan nos da su interpretación del bautismo o de la eucaristía.

Por ejemplo, una vez un miembro del grupo de fariseos, llamado Nicodemo, vino de noche a reunirse con Jesús. La conversación estaba una exploración de los temas de la enseñanza de Jesús. Jesús dijo a Nicodemo que es necesario ser nacido por agua y espíritu para entrar en el Reino de Dios. Nadie puede ver el Reino de Dios sino nacer de nuevo desde arriba. Inmediatamente, cuando escuchamos estas palabras, pensamos en bautismo, por qué el bautismo es nuestro nacimiento por agua y el Santo Espíritu.

De manera similar, San Juan da cuenta de cómo Jesús dio de comer a cinco mil personas por multiplicación de pan y pescados. Cuando un grupo venía buscando a Jesús, él les dijo, “Yo soy el pan de vida. El que viene a mí nunca tendrá hambre, y el que cree en mí nunca tendrá sed.” Además les dijo algo muy interesante: “El pan que yo daré es mi carne, y lo daré para la vida del mundo.” Entonces, hay una conexión entre Jesús, tu, la muerte de Jesús, y la eucaristía.

Si bautismo es nuestro nacimiento, la eucaristía es la manera en la que crecemos en Cristo por recibir regularmente el alimento de pan y vino que nos dan la vida nueva. Jesús ha hecho la posibilidad de compartir en él, y en su resurrección, por medio de su muerte en la cruz.

El secreto es este: para vivir totalmente en el espíritu de la eucaristía, debemos seguir el ejemplo de Jesús lavando los pies de los discípulos. Según San Juan, no hay otra opción si queremos comprender y practicar ni solo el signficado de la eucaristía, sino también la vida y el ministerio de Jesús. Él vino para servir, no para ser servido. Él lavó los pies como un servidor, también murió en la cruz, sirviendonos y sirviendo al mundo.

El misterio el más grande del evangelio no es un gran milagro, pero la verdad que escuchamos repetidas veces: “el que quiera ser el más importante entre ustedes, debe hacerse el servidor de todos, y el que quiera ser el primero, se haré esclavo de todos.” También hay la promesa, “El que ama su vida la destruye; y el que desprecia su vida en este mundo, la conserva para la vida eterna.”

Cuando lo oímos, ¿quién no quiere decir, “Aparta de mí esta copa”? Y contestamos a Jesús, “Tu, Señor, ¡jamás me lavarás los pies!” Pero el Señor nos responde, “Si no te lavo, no podrás tener parte conmigo.” Luego llega nuestra hora que ser glorificado, nuestro momento para rogar, “Señor, lávame no sólo los pies, sino también las manos y la cabeza.”

Laying Down

Eucharist and Washing Feet

John 13

Ask nearly any average informed Christian what Maundy Thursday is all about and chances are you will hear the response, “That’s the day of Jesus’ last supper, when he gave us the eucharist.” And so it is. But don’t you think it is rather strange that the gospel we read tonight does not once mention the eucharist?

Instead, we have Jesus at supper, which in John’s gospel is clearly not the Passover seder, because Passover does not begin until Friday at sundown, according to him. Indeed the Lamb of God will be sentenced to death at noon on Friday, the very hour when the bleating of lambs being slaughtered for Passover will split the ears of all Jerusalem. Thursday night in John’s story is the last supper, but there is no accent at all on the supper, its menu, the significance of bread and wine. Nothing. Complete silence. Instead we have a story about the washing of feet.

Many heads wiser than mine have puzzled over John’s omission of any account of something so central to Christian practice as the eucharist. Noticing that he does not explicitly tell us anything about baptism either, some have figured that John was not all that keen on sacraments. Others have suggested that all John has to say about the eucharist is packed into his account of the feeding of the five thousand, and the long discussions that follow. Actually, those things give us a clue as to what in fact John has in mind, and thus help us to hear the Word he is speaking to us tonight.

Recall that in John’s story one of the Pharisees, Nicodemus by name, had once gone to Jesus during the night to discuss with him the substance of his teaching. The conversation became a discussion of being “born from above,” or of being “begotten from above.” Jesus tells Nicodemus that neither he nor anyone can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. We immediately and instinctively know that John is telling us something about baptism, that central and major practice of the Christian community which is a symbolic way of being born anew—not just a bath is it, but an outpouring of Holy Spirit. In baptism we are remade thoroughly, a project that extends throughout our lives. It is so radical a remaking that it can only be described as a new birth, a second birth; or, as the other gospels put it, becoming a child all over again and starting life anew. Life in the Spirit is, for the baptized, life built day by day in the image and likeness of the Son of Man, to whom we increasingly and repeatedly give our hearts.

Something similar happens in John’s story after Jesus multiplies the loaves and fish to feed the multitude. Crowds come looking for Jesus. When they find him, he tells them that they have come looking not because they saw divine action in the feeding, but because they had eaten their fill of bread. They must work, he tells them, not for perishable food but for the food that endures to eternal life. That food is Jesus himself. “I am the bread of life,” he tells them. “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Giving one’s love and life totally to Jesus (John calls that “believing”) is the way to eat the Bread of Life. When one eats it, one has eternal life. Then Jesus says something very astonishing: “the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

So there is a deep connection, then, between Jesus, you, the Living Bread you eat in the eucharist, and Jesus’ death. If you make those connections, you catch on to what John is up to. If baptism means that we are born in the Spirit, eucharist means that we continually grow by feeding on the one who makes possible our union with God by his death.

Though this does not solve the puzzle as to why John tells us nothing about how Jesus instituted the eucharist, it does point to the relationship of washing feet, Jesus’ death, and what the eucharist means. More than once in the gospels we encounter Jesus’ teaching that he is among his followers as one who serves. He came not to be served, but to serve. That is exactly the picture John gives us of Jesus when he washes his disciples’ feet. The whole episode is set firmly within the story of the Passion. Jesus does more than give us the model for Christian love and service, though he does that. He relates that to his own laying down his life for his friends. As the evening goes on, he tells them that this new commandment he has given to them to love one another is what he himself does in laying down his life.

To live that way is to live eucharistically. To be willing to wash feet is to follow the pattern of the Master and Lord who stoops to wash the feet of his disciples. To be willing to have one’s feet be washed—to let yourself acknowledge your own dependency and vulnerability—is to have a share in Jesus’ person, in his life, in his ministry, in his death. To live in the eucharistic fellowship is to serve, not fundamentally to be served. The greatest mystery of the gospel, perhaps, is nothing miraculous and dazzling, but this truth that keeps turning up that the last shall be first and the first last; that the servant must follow the way of the master who follows the way of a servant; that the way of life is the death of self which is paradoxically the way of life.

It is a hard truth, to be sure. Something in us says no, let this cup pass me by. When this truth is offered to us, we instinctively say, “You will never wash my feet.” If you don’t recoil at the idea of giving up your life in order to gain your life, you are one of a rare breed of human beings. Have patience and hang on, for the one who is offering that truth says, “Otherwise you have no share in me.” Then comes your hour to be glorified, believe it or not. Then comes your hour, your moment to pray, “Not only my feet, Lord, but also my hands and my head as well!”

© Frank Gasque Dunn, 2011

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Working Wonders

Prayer and Miracles

John 11:1-45

Ironic––isn’t it?––that the very things that might have inspired faith in the first century or the second are some of the things that can create obstacles for twenty-first century people. For instance, the only story told essentially the same way in all four gospels is the story of how Jesus fed the multitudes with five loaves and two fish. I don’t know if people a generation or two after Jesus would have found that particularly easy to believe, but it is a cinch that none of the gospel writers considered it a stumbling-block to faith in Jesus as Christ, else they would no doubt have quietly edited it out. Yet no one who serves meals at our Loaves and Fishes kitchen thinks of saying grace over a couple of chicken breasts, multiplying them to feed the crowd downstairs of several hundred. And anyone who came off the street, even I dare say, some Senior Priest or other, offering to do so would be promptly reported to the police, likely banned from the building as a danger to others, and shipped off St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. We have a hard time taking the supernatural seriously.

If you have a hard time with the notion that someone literally fed 5,000 people or more with five loaves of bread and two fish, then I suspect you have a big-time issue with believing that Jesus actually raised the dead Lazarus—after the latter had been carefully buried for four days, long enough for rot to start. Some of you will tell me that you have no problem with that at all precisely because Jesus is God and can thus do anything. Yes; but what do you say to Pat, a young man who once said to me when his father dropped dead of a heart attack, “I know that if we believe strongly enough that Jesus can bring back my dad from the dead, isn’t that right?”? I think you will concede that, well, Jesus is alive and well and Resurrected but that does not exactly mean that we can get the same results from him that those people back then could and did. Others—I myself on many a Fifth Sunday in Lent—have dodged that whole issue, taking this story of the raising of Lazarus as a theological tour de force, highly symbolic, seeing it as a testimony to the truth that indeed Jesus—God—brings us out of various dead places and into new life. Still others will say that the raising of the dead to life actually happens in our world (people who are as good as dead are sometimes resuscitated with wise and timely use of CPR). So, they would point out, we really do the same thing that Jesus did (sort of). We just go about it a little differently.

Are these matters just “academic,” with little relevance to us? I think not. For both the believer and the unbeliever, the supernatural presents a challenge, and not only because it occurs with some frequency in the Bible. How many times have you heard or said, “We’re just praying for a miracle”? When pushed against the wall, and when someone’s life is at stake, like Mary and Martha we send for Jesus or for someone who can intervene and work a miracle. We get ourselves in the frame of mind that if we can call on the right Power, anything is possible. Granted, that shakes out to getting the right professional help, if we are able to afford it. Go to Mayo, Cleveland, Sloan-Kettering, Johns Hopkins, Duke, the Menninger Clinic, Hazelton, if you are financially blessed enough to do so. Still, we are sometimes willing, if one of those things works, to say that the Hand of God was in it. And that may well be true.

But what of the poor folk who don’t have the resources? Are they left just to bang on the door of heaven hoping to God that someone somewhere will hear their desperation and respond? Or don’t we want them to feed on the wonderful mysteries of their religion and ours, replete with stories like healing lepers and blind people and raising the dead to life? That is a roundabout way of saying that miracles are more attractive the fewer resources you have. If you can buy your way through intensive care, you might not find yourself quite so frequently in need of a miracle. But when you are out of resources (and that can happen to the rich, too, by the way), divine intervention can seem like a good idea.

So here we are, a week away from Holy Week and almost two away from Good Friday. It is as good a time as any to deal with how we pray in the face of death—or more generally, how we deal with suffering, tragedy, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. What might help us is to look carefully at a few aspects of this story about the raising of Lazarus.

If we are wondering about whether we ought to pray for miracles, the story suggests that we might be asking the wrong question. One of the major points that the Fourth Gospel makes is that the presence and power of Jesus (and thus of God) is quite different from what we might imagine. Mary and Martha send for Jesus, presumably hoping that he will come and heal Lazarus whom he loves. When Jesus comes, too late for a healing, both of them express their disappointment that Jesus was not there. “Had you been here, my brother would not have died.” No doubt. Martha goes further, saying, “Even now, I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” It is not clear what she has in mind, but it is quite probable that it is not her brother’s resuscitation. She must assume that the time for miracles is over. Something more like the healing of grief, perhaps, or dealing with life after the male on whom the family depended had died: these might have been on her mind and in her prayer.

But look at it from another angle. Observe Jesus. He knows from the moment he gets the message, that Lazarus is dead or soon will be. (That is so characteristic of Jesus in John’s gospel. He is clairvoyant, omniscient.) Then he stays an additional two days east of the Jordan, which is a good day’s hike from Bethany. He says that the glory of God will be revealed through Lazarus’ illness, and specifically that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” I suspect you see immediately that that is exactly what John’s purpose is: to narrate how Jesus is glorified more than to spotlight Lazarus himself. Yet there is a larger truth here. Many times we approach life, quite naturally, from the point of view of what we want, what we need. “We need a miracle.” “I want to be healed.” “Do what you have to, Lord, to make this situation better.” I am not saying that there is anything necessarily wrong about that; but I do think we might acknowledge that we do not always—indeed frequently do not—see the larger picture, including where God’s Presence and Power are already at work. The effectiveness, the dependability, of God’s being in a situation does not preclude our praying for healing or rescue or spectacular intervention. But the point is that God is present whether we are praying for those things or not. One of the prayers of the Book of Common Prayer refers to God’s doing “better things than we can ask or pray for.” Exactly. Practicing prayer involves growing out of the idea that God is largely passive until we start pushing God’s buttons by praying. Prayer includes acknowledging that God is, that God is active at all times and in all situations, just as surely as air silently surrounds us, and just that close.

All the Bethany people in the story are grieving, and ultimately Jesus joins them in one of the most memorable scenes in the New Testament, which we nearly always remember at funerals: “You wept at the grave of Lazarus your friend.” In the King James Version of the Bible, that is the shortest verse of all: “Jesus wept.” He is human, he feels deeply. Perhaps there is a hint here that before this mighty act Jesus is on edge, emotionally raw. But there is a sentence in here that doesn’t make it into English very well. Instead of saying that “Jesus was deeply disturbed in spirit,” the text actually says something more like, “Jesus was inwardly angry” or “Jesus was royally irritated.”* At what? It is not clear, but a good guess is that all the cavorting and crying and carrying on did not set well with him. You might remember another story from the Synoptic gospels in which Jesus goes to Jairus’ house ultimately to raise his little girl from death, and he summarily puts the wailing mourners out of the room. Jesus apparently did not like that kind of drama. Perhaps that was just a personal preference, with no particular implication for us. I think, however, that it might be a commentary on how easy it is for people caught up in their own tragedies, to miss the larger point of God’s presence and power in a situation.

Then notice something else. Jesus himself prays. It has been said, “It is because he is one with God that he prays, and because he prays he is one with God.” Thomas Aquinas wrote, “When the Father does the Father’s will, the Father does the Son’s will.”** What strikes you about Jesus’ prayer? Does he ask for special power? Does he confess that he is nervous? What strikes me is that his is a prayer of thanksgiving. “I thank thee that thou hast heard me.” This, too, is a clue as to the relationship of prayer and miracle. The miraculous, if you want to call it that, is going on all the time, and most of it is wrapped in what we call the commonplace. The supernatural, so named because it does not fit our understanding of the natural, is just more from the same God who is constantly sustaining us and all creation. I myself have known of unexpected joy, surprising healings against all odds, startling rescues from tragedies and disasters. Many of these came on the wings of prayer, and a few occurred without pleading or warning or both. Miracles happen, but never because God has to be convinced to work one, as if somehow God sits on God’s hands until we get worked up enough to mention the possibility of a miracle. “I thank thee that thou hast heard me,” prayed Jesus. You can pray that prayer, too. Avery Brooke, who for years had an astonishing ministry of healing in the Church, taught me to end prayers for healing with, “Thank you God, for hearing our prayer, and for the healing that you have already begun in this person.”

John’s gospel is clear about the place of the raising of Lazarus. It was the tipping point in Jesus’ ministry. We shall be again at Bethany next week on Palm Sunday, because it is from there on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives that Jesus will take the fateful journey into Jerusalem. Raising Lazarus was for John what ultimately convinced the authorities that Jesus had to die. “Better that one man die on behalf of the people than to have the entire nation destroyed,” warned High Priest Caiphas. So Jesus ultimately went to his death. But yet another stone was to be rolled away and another body to be raised from death, this time not to be a resuscitated corpse, but to be the glorified body of the Risen Lord. Sometimes we pray for miracles, and sometimes they happen. But the thing not to miss is that sometimes it is the very cross we would most like to avoid that turns out to be the thing that saves us. The more we learn to trust in a surrounding and sustaining God, the less we might find ourselves praying for miraculous things, yet giving thanks in all our tragedies, doubts, terrors, and deaths for the Presence of the One who is himself our Resurrection and our Life.

*Rudolf Schnackenberg,The Gospel According to St. John, vol. 2, (New York: Crossroad, 1990), pp. 335-336.

** Ibid., p. 517, note 66.

© Frank Gasque Dunn, 2011