Upside Down Kingdom // Unsatisfying // Kate Murphy

Some of us are surprised, and a little ashamed, to admit how difficult just staying home with my family can be. We cycle through feelings of boredom, worry, panic, and frustration. As followers of Jesus, we thought this would be our time to shine with hope and wisdom and courage. We had hoped that this would be a season of great spiritual growth and deepened relationships and creativity and abounding love I thought it might be the beginning of a glorious renewal. Honestly? For many of us, including me, it hasn’t been. And that can be disappointing.

But—Jesus shows up for disappointed people

If you haven’t been the person you’d hoped to be in this extraordinary season, or—more devastatingly—if God hasn’t been active in the ways you hoped, this Sunday’s worship service is especially for you. Sometimes, the Upside Down Kingdom of God is so extra-ordinary we can’t miss it, even when we are in the midst of it. I hope you will listen in with us for some real. good. news.

Upside Down Kingdom // Unappealing // Kate Murphy

On Easter evening, Jesus broke into a room, where the disciples had barricaded themselves in fear, and breathed on them.

And what was in him was infectious and contagious. They caught his peace, his power—his Spirit. Jesus gave to them the most impressive and most valuable thing in all creation. And God offers the same to us today.

But do we even want it? In our kingdoms on earth, the Spirit of God is worthless: you can’t sell it or trade it, and everyone gets it for free. And being infected be the Spirit will totally change how people live. It did for the early disciples (just read past the gospel accounts into Acts to see how…), and it can for us if we let it.

Listen in to hear more.

Upside Down Kingdom // Unfinished // Kate Murphy

Mark’s account of the Gospel, and especially his story of the resurrection (which he would have learned from Peter, an eyewitness) is the worst. The story leaves out some of the best details and then ends without much good news at all.

The tomb is empty. But now what?

This Easter, amidst a pandemic and some difficulty seeing the good beyond the present moment when so much of our world is in crisis, we learn something meaningful and powerful about how Mark tells the story of the resurrection. And we learn it’s not so bad after all.

Upside Down Kingdom // Unimpressive // Kate Murphy

This Sunday, we enter into Holy Week. And many of the things we treasure most about these days will be absent. We won’t break bread around one long table for our beautiful Maundy Thursday meal and foot washing service. We won’t gather in a hushed and holy sanctuary to sing and pray and weep our way through the passion of Jesus on Good Friday. We won’t hold a prayer vigil on the lawn on Holy Saturday. There won’t be flowers on the cross or eggs on the lawn or pews packed with beautiful people on Easter Sunday.

We won’t have any of those things and I will miss them.

But, these things we won’t have—they were never the things that made this week holy. The things we’ll lack were never the things we were supposed to be celebrating. The moments we’ll miss were never meant to be the sacred center of this holy week that tethers us to our faith.

They were only signs. Beautiful and powerful—but only signs.  They were never holy—they only pointed us toward the Holy in our midst.

The life-giving Holy reality remains, and we may be able to see it and celebrate it and experience it more fully this year than ever.

I believe that these might be the most powerful holy days we ever live.

They will be stripped down and strange and uncomfortable. And they will help us see that it is God who gives us life, not our sacred rituals. We don’t produce Holy Week and Easter for ourselves—we make a space for God to reveal salvation through Jesus Christ.

So, I invite you to enter into this Holy Week with all the real feelings you have—doubt, loss, and fear are welcome. But, make room for some unreasonable expectations and wild anticipations. Because—it’s Holy Week, and there is power and life in the cross of Jesus our savior.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, those who understood who he was and why he was coming waved branches to celebrate. They rejoiced that he was the savior of the world. They celebrated that he was coming to destroy everything that destroys us. Authorities tried to shut them up, but Jesus said nothing can stop the joy and hope of those who know him.

So, nothing will stop us either.