Friday, April 10, 2015

Let's Not Forget!

Mark 16:19-20 New International Version (NIV)

19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was 
taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of 
God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached 
everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and 
confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

When we celebrate the risen Christ, we remember that we too will be raised in the body. This hope is anchored in the fact that Christ is not dead, but is alive! Not just alive for another 40 days until he goes away, but alive forever more, advocating for us at the right hand of the father. Indeed, we serve a Lord that has conquered death and reigns forever. A Lord that has done the work to make straight a path for redemption. A Lord that has demonstrated His great love for us by giving all He had to give.
Friends, Easter may have been last week, but let’s not be quick to forget the glory of God revealed in the resurrection! May we follow the disciple’s example and take this message of grace we have received and not be bashful about sharing it. This message is not meant to be kept in hiding, it is meant to be proclaimed. The best part is this: when we share the good news we have received, Christ is with us, confirming the truths that we proclaim. So get out there and share that our Lord is risen, remembering that Christ is present with you!

Daniel Reffner is a Religion/Philosophy major at Southwestern College.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Feast of Joy

Isaiah 25: 6-9 (NIV)

6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will 
prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, 
a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats 
and the finest of wines. 7 On this mountain 
he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all 
peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 
8 he will swallow up death forever. The 
Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears 
from all faces; he will remove his people’s 
disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has 
spoken. 9 In that day they will say,“Surely 
this is our God; we trusted in him, and he 
saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in 
him; let us rejoice and be glad in his 

Praise to the Lord! How great is this passage? When I read this I was immediately filled with joy and thanksgiving. It says in verse 8, “he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.” I find great comfort in that, Isaiah is saying that there will be a feast prepared with aged wine and rich food for all of the people. In my Interpretations to the Bible class Dr. Lashier encourages us to interpret the text and find the meaning behind the scripture. What I get from this passage is that we are celebrating the fact that God is going to save us and though we may get hurt or face trials in our eyes, He will be there to wipe the tears and pick us back up. We should have constant trust in God. It says so in the scripture that must mean its important right? While this scripture may not have been intended for us specifically that doesn’t mean we can’t turn to it in our times of trouble and stress. Whenever I find myself becoming burdened with worldly things like school or what the future holds I stop myself and take a step back and remind myself that God is in control and I need to put all my trust in Him. Not only is that reassuring but it takes so much burden off your shoulders, God wants us to be in constant contact with Him and tell Him our troubles. That’s what prayer is for! I encourage you in your time of fear and doubt to set aside whatever you are doing and pray. God is here for you, all you have to do is talk to Him.

Sarah Louy, Sophomore, Liberal Arts

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ripples of Belief

Luke 24: 13-49

Read the entire scripture here!

There are forty days of Lent. If you observe the Christian calendar, you have just completed walking through this rich and challenging season. Perhaps you gave up something, or added a spiritual discipline in order to align yourself more with the story and journey of Christ to the cross and into the grave. And now we are on the other side. We rejoice in the unbelievable truth of his resurrection.

Many Christians are not aware that there are actually fifty days of Easter – a season historically celebrated as Eastertide. The church, and even our culture, are generally well-adjusted to the idea of Lent – of a season of intentional fasting or rigorous reorientation. But why? Perhaps it is the idea of “extreme faith” gleaned from years of watching reality TV shows like Survivor or Fear Factor. In fact, sometimes we get so embroiled in the intentional rigor of giving up coffee or chocolate that we forget why we actually engage in this extreme sport in the first place. We miss the opportunity for reorientation into the image of Christ. Maybe this is why God gave us 40 long days to work at it every year.

But I reiterate: there are fifty days of Easter – more days marked for celebration than for difficulty. More time set aside for feasting than for fasting. Yet most of our Christian communities mark a single day – Easter Sunday, and then we are back to our ordinary lives. Why would the historic celebrations of the church have lasted fifty days? Perhaps it was the magnitude of what had just happened.

As we read through the different accounts of Christ’s resurrection found in the gospels, we see that Jesus’ followers came to hear the good news and to believe at different stages. John believed immediately upon seeing the empty tomb. Peter was perplexed and went away “wondering to himself what had happened.” Others understood after a long journey to Emmaus, as Jesus recounted the entire story of salvation to them, only to be recognized when he broke bread with them in their home. Still others saw him eat fish and realized he really was a living human again. Thomas needed to touch his wounds to believe.

Belief came in waves. The personalities and experiences of each Christ-follower required different situations for each of their hearts to be opened to the reality of redemption. Maybe this is why we celebrate fifty days of Eastertide. We need time to both wrap our minds around the reality of the resurrection, and to celebrate this truth in abundance! The end of the season of Eastertide is marked by Pentecost – when God sends the Holy Spirit to awaken and animate us in this truth even more.

Whether or not your church community marks Easter as a season, I would encourage you to walk through the post-resurrection narratives intentionally during the next 50 days – ask the Holy Spirit to create ripples of deeper belief in your own heart and mind. And don’t forget to celebrate! I’m going to go get another piece of chocolate…

Main post image by Sergiu Bacioiu from Romania (Water Drop – Explored) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Shannon Steed Sigler is a community artist, curator, and theologian. She also serves as the Director of Social Media Communications for and is teaching a course called Faith, Imagination, and the Arts this semester.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

This is the Day

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 (ESV)

118 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Let Israel 
say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 14 The 
LORD is my strength and my song; he has 
become my salvation. 15 Glad songs of salvation 
are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand 
of the LORD does valiantly, 16 the right hand of 
the LORD exalts, the right hand of the LORD does 
valiantly!” 17 I shall not die, but I shall live, and 
recount the deeds of the LORD. 18 The LORD has 
disciplined me severely, but he has not given me 
over to death. 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, 
that I may enter through them and give thanks to 
the LORD. 20 This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous 
shall enter through it. 21 I thank you that you have 
answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The 
stone that the builders rejected has become the 
cornerstone. 23 This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous 
in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Can I just take a moment and give a shout out to my hometown church. Every summer at Vacation Bible School they played this one song. You know the one. “This is the day. This is the day. That the Lord has made. That the Lord has made. We will rejoice. We will rejoice. And be glad in it. And be glad in it.” They made us sing it in canon with the right side signing first then the left side coming in next. By the end of it we would just be yelling so we could be louder than the other group. To this day, I can’t read verse 24 without singing it. Thanks, VBS.

What a joyful psalm. The writer knew he had gone through some hard times and knew there were more hard times to come just as Jesus knew he had to go to the cross and die. But hear how excited and thankful he is to have gone through it all. “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” You see that exclamation point? That one piece of punctuation says it all. God promises us there will be difficult times in our lives. But he also promises that his mercies are new each morning and he will not give us over to death (v. 18). When you make that first step out of the dark valley you’ve been walking through, when you roll away that rock that’s been keeping you in a dark tomb and you see the light shining outside, know that this day, THIS day, the day you’ve been waiting for, this is the day that the Lord has made. Rejoice! Be glad!

Kenna Corley is the Coordinator of Social Media and an alumna of Southwestern College.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Human Reactions

Mark 16:1-8

16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, 
Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought 
spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 
2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after 
sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and 
they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone 
away from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 But when 
they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was 
very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered 
the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white 
robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 
6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for 
Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! 
He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 
7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going 
ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, 
just as he told you.’” 8 Trembling and bewildered, 
the women went out and fled from the tomb. They 
said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

I would like to think if I ever have the good fortune to witness a real-live, honest-to-goodness, amazing and awesome miracle of otherworldly proportions, I will respond with appropriate awe, wonder and gratefulness. Unfortunately, I am a child of the modern world and a mother of two sons. As a result, I have developed an inquiring mind and a healthy bit of skepticism.

I think, if this would have been me, I would have engaged with the young man dressed in white and started asking him some pointed questions about exactly what he was doing in there. I would have probably been glancing around looking for TV cameras and Alan Funt – or for you twenty somethings – Ashton Kutcher. In fact, I know that’s how I would have responded – and to be honest, it makes me kind of sad.

In this passage, Mark doesn’t tell you what to think. Mark simply describes what happens so you can experience the event yourself. I love Mark, because it is so full of terrific dialogue and powerful adjectives. I like this particular passage because it marks the “moment before the celebration.” It describes a very human reaction to something that cannot be explained. In a word, it’s awkward.

“Don’t be alarmed,” the guy in white said. Well thanks, Captain Obvious. How in the world is one not supposed to be alarmed in this situation? The women were trembling and bewildered. Process that. How does that feel? I hate that feeling – that awful, heart pumping adrenaline rush you get when you are freaked out. The women “fled” from the tomb. They let the guy say his peace and then got the heck out of Dodge. And they didn’t say one more word about what happened. How very normal. How very human.

Passages such as these help me realize I am not necessarily expected to always react perfectly to things. Shoot – the Bible is full of people who don’t react perfectly to things. We are, after all, human. God became human in the form of Jesus so he could understand us. Jesus sacrificed his life to create a bridge between our imperfect selves and God. Hallelujah! Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen indeed!

Brenda Hicks is the Director of Financial Aid at Southwestern College

Friday, April 3, 2015

Behold the Lamb

When was the last time you took time to sit at the cross of Christ? Too often I merely glance at it from afar or consider it in a passing moment. This day, of all days, we’re called to take time to stay, to behold.
Grab your bible. Find a place where you can meditate on this passage. Take some time to stay at the foot of the cross: 

Read Mark 15

How can the hands that hung the stars                                
Hang, nailed, upon a tree?
The feet that walked with Adam’s steps                                 
Are pierced for one like me.           
Thy feet were nailed upon the tree,
To trample down our sin;
Thy hands stretched out for all to see,
To take thy murderers in.

Hear Him cry out, the Word made flesh,                       
Who called all things to be;
The sun, which knows His voice so well,                                   
In shock holds back its beams.                                                   
Hear how He groans, while nature shakes,
And earth’s strong pillars bend!
The temple’s veil in sunder breaks,
The solid marbles rend.

‘Tis done! The precious ransom’s paid.
"Receive my soul," He cries!
See, now He bows His sacred head!
The God of angels dies.
But soon He’ll break death’s envious chain,
And in full glory shine.
O Lamb of God, was ever pain,
Was ever love like thine!

Matthew Sigler is the interim campus minister at SC.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Would Jesus Have Washed My Feet?

John 13:1-17; 31b-35 (NIV)

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. 
Jesus knew that the hour had come for him 
to leave this world and go to the Father. 
Having loved his own who were in the world, 
he loved them to the end. 2 The evening meal 
was in progress, and the devil had already 
prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, 
to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father 
had put all things under his power, and that 
he had come from God and was returning to 
God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off 
his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel 
around his waist. 5 After that, he poured 
water into a basin and began to wash his 
disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel 
that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 
“Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now 
what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash 
my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, 
you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” 
Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my 
hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, 
“Those who have had a bath need only to wash 
their feet; their whole body is clean. And you 
are clean, though not every one of you.”11 For 
he knew who was going to betray him, and that 
was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he 
put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do 
you understand what I have done for you?” he 
asked them.13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and 
‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have 
washed your feet, you also should wash one 
another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example 
that you should do as I have done for you. 
16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater 
than his master, nor is a messenger greater 
than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you 
know these things, you will be blessed if you 
do them. 31 When he was gone, Jesus said, 
“Now the Son of Man is glorified and God 
is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in 
him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and 
will glorify him at once. 33 “My children, I 
will be with you only a little longer. You will 
look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I 
tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot 
come. 34 “A new command I give you: Love 
one another. As I have loved you, so you must 
love one another. 35 By this everyone will 
know that you are my disciples, if you love 
one another.”

Our scripture passage for today invites us into one of the most intimate scenes in the Gospel of John. While the other Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke recount the “Last Supper,” the Gospel of John recounts a different meal – a meal accompanied by an incredibly selfless act, washing feet, the focus of our passage today.
Washing feet during Jesus’ time was an important act of hospitality. Normal hospitality included taking guests’ sandals off, washing their feet and sometimes anointing them as well. The detail that sets this occurrence apart, though, is that feet-washing was traditionally the job of a slave. So, we cannot blame Peter too much for his skepticism and rather dramatic reaction in this story when Jesus prepares to wash his feet. While there are many focal points in this text, Jesus exercising power as a servant-leader being a commonly discussed one, the detail that I want to focus on is the motivation behind Jesus’ actions. In John 13:34 Jesus gives his disciples a new command. He tells them to love one another, and that they will be known as his disciples by their love. Surely love was Jesus’ own motivation to wash his disciples’ feet. Perhaps the most beautiful part of this entire story is that, out of love, Jesus chooses to wash ALL of his disciples’ feet – Peter and Judas Iscariot’s feet included. He did this with the knowledge that they were both going to betray him. Jesus sets a pattern for his own disciples here. He shows them what unconditional love looks and how that translates into serving others. This is totally fundamental to the entire Gospel message. Holy week invites us to consider our own betrayal. As we do that this week, let us also consider Jesus’ love for us, for his love is always stronger than our betrayal. Let us take confidence in knowing that despite our sin, Jesus would have also washed our feet. Amen.

Molly Just is the Director of the service-learning team, Discipleship Southwestern, and is alumna of Southwestern.