Joe and Nick…

by DanWolgemuth on April 22, 2019

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So, he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So, they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So, because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. (John 19:38–42, ESV)

Joe had a bit part. A passing mention, a few verses, a single day to contribute.

While those closest to Jesus were paralyzed or immobilized or frozen or disbursed, Joe did, what only Joe could do.

He acted boldly, wisely, prophetically, thoughtfully.

Only a few hours remained before Sabbath began, and so every minute mattered.

The political implications were complicated and risky. Joe was part of an elite group. The Sanhedrin. Seventy-one rabbis who shouldered the judicial authority and responsibilities that ultimately condemned Jesus. Joe dissented. He resisted the onslaught of peer pressure, but it wasn’t enough. The wave of outrageous condemnation prevailed. The decision drove nails, not only through flesh, but through justice.

Now what? Jesus, His dead body still hanging on a cross. The powerless surrounded him without solutions. Without energy. Without influence or resources.

In that moment, in the depth of unspeakable grief, Joe acted. He did the right next thing. He crossed the line. He rolled the political dice.

He wasn’t about to let Jesus hang on a cross. His dead body wasn’t enough to extinguish the righteous compulsion of his soul… and so he acted, and so he asked.

He needed permission. He asked for the authority to remove Jesus’ body from the public humiliation of the cross. To bury Him. In a respectable tomb. An unused tomb. His family tomb.

There would be fallout. Politically, professionally, personally.

His focus was on Jesus. His dead body. Lifeless. His lungs breathless. His skin cold and rigid.

He lowered Jesus from the cross and wrapped Him in a linen shroud. Nick, a fellow griever and bit player, who himself had appeared earlier in the unfolding story, joined him in a plan of action. A plan that propelled them both to do the next right and righteous thing on behalf of the man they loved, admired and indeed, worshipped.

Burial blankets, spices and ointments weighing 75 pounds! Grief propelled both of these men to action. To sacrifice. To profound steps of obedience. They weren’t about to let the story end on a cross.

They invested every last cent of their reputation to make certain that dignity washed over the catastrophic miscarriage of justice. Even at His death, they cast their ballot for Jesus.

Did they know? Did they have more faith than the others?

I don’t know, but what I know is that while fear paralyzed those closest to Jesus, it did something very different for these men.

Even in the darkest hour of human existence, Joe and Nick acted. They moved. They did the next right thing, without knowing what would be next.

And in a fallen and sinful and evil world… this is what Christ followers do. Against the press of public opinion, they do what is right and appropriate and holy. Today. Now. Without a clear line of sight to tomorrow.

While He was lifeless, they obeyed. Before He breathed again, they acted.

Bit parts, but big impact. The right next thing.

Even before hope returns. A step of obedience. An act of worship.

A lesson for the ages. Joe and Nick.

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I am LaGuardia Airport

by DanWolgemuth on April 12, 2019

$6 Billion.

The largest current infrastructure project in the state of New York. LaGuardia Airport. LGA in aviation terms.

A seven-year project that completely overhauls highways, terminals, and gates.

For any LGA traveler, this is a welcome transformation. The airport boasts some of the worst reviews in the country.

Last Friday afternoon I arrived at LaGuardia. It was my first visit to the airport in a year. It was a wonderful surprise to exit the jetway and spill into a new Terminal B concourse. Open space, high ceilings, new restaurants and retail. An amazing transformation. I should note, a partial transformation. The work isn’t done, and frankly, once you exit a hallway out of Terminal B, you are quickly escorted back to the chaos that is LaGuardia.

Less than 24 hours later and I was back. I sipped a cup of morning brew from a brand-new coffee shop. And as I sipped, I sat at a new high-top table with cool seats and a plug for my phone. The vibe was tangible and exciting.

An hour later I was on my Southwest flight bound for Denver. Home. We pushed back from the gate within a few minutes of scheduled departure time. Once disconnected from the Tug that propelled us away from the gate, engines revved, and we began to move. But only for a short distance.

Then we sat. And we sat.

In roughly 15 minutes the pilot broke the silence. His words were a version of the following… “Welcome to LaGuardia. We’re presently in line to take off. But at this point there are 16 planes in line in front of us (and I might add, incoming air traffic that used the same runway). We’ll notify you when we’re ready to take off.”

Ugh. LaGuardia.

This announcement provoked an investigation for me. LaGuardia was constructed in 1939 for $23 million. At the time it was designed with four runways. Over the decades that followed, increased airplane velocity and capacity has forced the airport to consolidate into two runways. Both are a constraining 7,000-foot length.

Two runways. 16 airplanes in line in front of us.

The glossy brochures say this: “…an entirely new LaGuardia airport from the ground up…”

But wait, the $6 Billion LaGuardia will still only have two 7,000-foot runways. Two.

A new airport?

The mission of an airport is to get airplanes up and down safely and on time. A perfectly crafted latte does not define a successful airport. Comfortable lounge chairs and charging stations are a perk, not a purpose.

And then reality. Then a conviction. I fear that in many ways I am LaGuardia Airport. Focused on comfort and convenience but distracted from my mission. A mission that Jesus defines as being “my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

The coffee is great… but the planes sit.

$6 Billion – and the same old airport. The same delays. The same missed connections. The same dicey landings in bad (and sometimes good) weather. The airport will be able to accurately claim new, more modern comfort for the misery, but not a new airport.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)

Not just a new souvenir shop, the latest in sushi, or a bold new pour over coffee… but a NEW CREATION. The old has gone. The new is come.

Am I settling? Are you?

LaGuardia got me thinking…

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“I love you, too.”

April 5, 2019

Several days ago, when Mary stopped by Peakview Assisted Living Center to pick up Eunice, her 93-year-old Mom, she witnessed an interesting exchange between Eunice and the head of maintenance, named Pete. Although the details of the interaction remained a mystery to Mary, what was vivid and clear was Pete’s gratitude for something that Eunice […]

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Reach for the fringe

March 29, 2019
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Desperate. But not hopeless. Penniless. But not broke. For twelve very long years. She knew the law. She lived the shame. For twelve very long years. Unclean. If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time […]

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From Arbel

March 22, 2019
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A simple walk. A familiar setting, and once again, Mary spotted wild life that I would have walked past. This time, a Cooper’s Hawk in a Ponderosa Pine. I paused and she calibrated my line of sight. And yes, there it was. Beautiful. Elegant, really. A puffed chest and a spotted tail. Virtually motionless. Hidden […]

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Beyond a Hero

March 15, 2019

Thanks for continuing to read my weekly Friday Fragments.  I hope they encourage and inspire you.  The Fragment below is a piece that I wrote a couple of years ago. Against the backdrop of focused evil, heroes emerge. Names surface from the ashes. Individuals step in harms way on behalf of others. From Brussels, to […]

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From Boggle to Beauty

March 8, 2019

Thanks for continuing to read my weekly Friday Fragments.  I hope they encourage and inspire you.  The Fragment below is a piece that I wrote a couple of years ago with the shadow of Good Friday and Easter on my soul. The letters dance, the timer gets flipped, and the competitors unleash their minds to […]

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Only June…

March 1, 2019

She was young…but we were younger. Youth For Christ was all of ten years old when June Thompson joined the chorus. March 1, 1954 in Brantford, Ontario, Canada – the hometown of hockey icon Wayne Gretzky. It was Evon Headley who recruited her and it was Evon who invited her to join him on the […]

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The Slave Bible

February 26, 2019

It was my final stop on a day of stops. The Museum of the Bible had been a profoundly impactful and inspirational experience… but the most powerful was yet to come. All six floors of the Museum are packed with remarkable artifacts and inspirational stories, but the most convicting was yet to come. It was […]

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Pops… “What if?”

February 15, 2019

Drew Jones Wolgemuth. All boy. Nearly four years old. A tornado of activity. A tsunami of questions. But not just inquisitive questions, ponderous and vast and provocative questions. They leap over symmetry or continuity, but they never lack sincerity and passion. “Pops… what if my finger falls off?” And while I’m forming a thoughtful response […]

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