It’s still dark on Easter morning as I join other worshipers for our annual sunrise service. We gather on a tree-studded hillside in a cemetery that overlooks a peaceful river. As the first shards of light glisten on silent waters, we sing and pray. Then a pastor stands and asks:
“Do you reaffirm your renunciation of evil and renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?
You may find it strange that I, an African American, do not believe in interracial marriage. I do not believe in interracial dating or even in having friends of other races. I do not espouse trying to understand racial differences or promoting awareness of other races. I can say all of this unabashedly because I do not believe in race!
I struggle to make peace with Jesus ordering the sea into peace. If we were to stumble across a time traveler’s videotape and find that it all happened just as Mark reports, I’d still be troubled. Because this isn’t the way the world works. People don’t go around saying, “Peace! Be still!” to the wind and the waves, and find that the wind and the waves obey. And I don’t like the “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” business. Of course Jesus’ disciples are afraid!
"The walking dead.” These are the words of African-American soldier Leon Bass as he described the horror he saw when Americans liberated prisoners in the Buchenwald prison camp in April 1945. Today some call confirmed drug addicts “the walking dead.” Then there’s the book/film Dead Man Walking—which describes many of us spiritually.
Vacation time grips the imagination of Westerners. In Britain, it is now possible to buy an airline ticket on the Internet for a few pounds, then land in a European city for a quick break, boosted by the elixir of novelty and the thrill of just being able to do it. A different language, a different currency, a different climate and adventures await. And why not? The best way to understand your own culture is to live in another.
It must have been the mother of all squalls. Some of the disciples were seasoned fishermen, skilled in the art of navigating dangerous waters. But this was a red alert. They were going to perish—and the one person who might turn the situation around was sleeping peacefully in the boat’s place of honor, the stern. They woke Jesus up with a strident “Don’t you care, Teacher?” But he did not respond to their lack of faith. Instead he responded to the peace within himself, and produced a calm that impacted nature as well as the frightened disciples.