THE BLOG

14
Apr

Easter, a reflection

On the day of the resurrection, some of the followers of Jesus went to the tomb. They were going to make the final preparations of Jesus’ body, for he had been buried with haste.

And when they got there, they were met with the amazing revelation that Jesus was…no longer dead. He was dead, but now he wasn’t anymore.

He was very much alive. And different. Mary didn’t recognize him. He had to speak her name so that she knew it was him. He wasn’t just resuscitated. This was something different. He was made new.

But, this wasn’t just something that happened in the morning. He came back in the evening, and met the disciples in the upper room. He also met two other disciples on the road to Emmaus that evening.

The Easter event was an all day thing. Some people think that the early Christians worshipped on Easter night because of all of the events which happened on that first Easter night.

But, that wasn’t all.Continue Reading..

14
Apr

Good Friday, a reflection

I have this wonderful painting hanging in my office, “Cimabue after Disney” by the Rev. Dr. Dennis McNally, SJ. Jesus is muscled, teary-eyed, and dead. Blood trickles down his hands and feet.

He’s also naked, and exposed just enough that that’s the one thing people notice when they see it for the first time.

Subtly, at the bottom of the painting is a less-known feature. A mouse, with a dark halo, lapping up some of the blood of Our Lord, and in the not far away from a trap with the door open. It’s an allusion to St. Augustine’s statement: “The Lord’s cross was the devil’s mousetrap: the bait which caught him was the death of the Lord.”Continue Reading..

14
Apr

Maundy Thursday, a reflection

“For as often as you eat this bread, and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death, until he comes.”

We sometimes speak of Holy Communion as being a “memorial.” We use this language because Jesus himself said that we are to “do this in remembrance of him.”

This is, I think, dangerous in our context because we have a weak understanding of what exactly constitutes “remembering.” We say we remember something when we recall it. When we think about it. Even if just for a moment we bring it to mind, we say we “remembered it.”

As if we forget Jesus until we gather at the Altar and remember him.

How many sermons have been preached on this, reminding congregations that remembering is literally broken down as re-member? The opposite of dis-member.

Many, but still I don’t think enough.

If the Eucharistic action is reduced to a simple recollection of Jesus, well then, let’s forget about it. There are lots of ways to remember Jesus. Perhaps even better ways than a little piece of dry pressed bread and a sip of cheap wine. (Or, grape juice…)Continue Reading..

25
Mar

lent 4a, a storyboard

So, I’m trying out Haiku Deck as a sermon story-board tool. We don’t use “PowerPoint” in church, but tools like this help me think through a narrative arc, and this one in particular helps me keep my sentences short, punchy, and (hopefully) more effective. And…I LOVE the pic of the dead fish!

UPDATE: I’m liking Haiku Deck, and I think it has a lot of promise…but it’s kinda buggy right now. As much time as they’ve spent in getting the thing to where it’s at right now, I’m reasonably certain that they’ll eventually make sure it’s rock solid. But, I’ve had like 10 different things go wrong, crash, disappear, etc. in the last 24 hours… If you’re an early adopter like me, jump in and give it a try. If bugs drive you up a wall…wait a few weeks.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

22
Mar

lent 4a: rise from the dead

Zombies.

Hungry with an insatiable appetite for living flesh, they roam alone and in hordes, looking and listening for prey. They have no regard for their own safety. No regard for life. No compassion. No relationships, not even with each other.

They just want to feed. They want to consume. They are all hunger.

As such, they are a grotesque statement on humanity. On culture: mindless consumming.Continue Reading..

01
Mar

lent 1a: reclaiming the vision

The version of the Creation in Genesis chapter 1, as we know, shows a remarkably ordered world, with an unfolding plan of creation that springs forth from the words of our Creator God. There is a place for everything, and everything is in it’s place.

The creation story in Genesis chapters 2 and 3 is a little different. God is still creator, but he’s hands-on, digging in the earth and collaborating with others in the naming process.

This second creation story marvelously shows the world as God intended it to be.Continue Reading..

01
Mar

Lent 1a Prayers of the People

These prayers are inspired by the great Psalm of contrition, Psalm 51. These prayers are designed to be used each week in Lent, except for the closing prayer which will reflect each week’s Gospel lesson. These prayers will work best if a brief pause is observed before the couplet. All churches have express permission to use, modify, or adapt these prayers in a way that best serves the individual community.

Celebrant Have mercy on us, O God, according to your loving kindness; in your great compassion, hear our prayers.

Intercessor We pray for the whole church, all leaders and ministers, and all the holy people of God.

Wash us through and through,
And cleanse us from our sin.

We pray for our nation, for all the nations of the earth, and for all who govern and judge.

Purge us from our sin,
And we shall be pure.

We pray for those who hunger, those who thirst, those who cry out for justice, those who live under the threat of terror, and those without a place to lay their head.

Make them hear of joy and gladness,
that those who are broken may rejoice.

We pray for those who are ill, those in pain, those under stress, and those who are lonely.

Give them the joy of your saving help,
and sustain them with your bountiful Spirit.

In this season of Lent we pray for those who prepare for baptism, and we pray that we all might be given the grace and strength to repent and grow closer to you, O God.

Create in us clean hearts, O God,
and renew a right spirit within us.

We pray for those who have died, (especially _____ )and who have entered into the land of eternal Light and your abiding peace.

Cast them not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from them.

We especially pray for… (the sick, those serving in conflict, etc…)

We pray for those celebrating birthdays and anniversaries this week…

Celebrant Lord Jesus, you were tempted by the Evil One in the wilderness and yet did not succumb. Be present to us who live with temptation day by day, and give us your strength, and your amazing grace. Amen.

01
Mar

Ash Wednesday

One of the interesting features of Year A in the Revised Common Lectionary, is that Ash Wednesday’s traditional year-after-year Gospel lesson comes after five Sundays in Epiphanytide of Gospel lessons from The Sermon on the Mount.Continue Reading..

19
Feb

last epiphany a: overcome with fear

The mission of the Church is to be a vessel where transformation can happen. Where lives may be changed by the Presence of God. Where people are reconciled to God in Christ, and to each other as neighbors.

That transformation isn’t a small thing. It’s not a fresh coat of paint. It’s not even an upgraded operating system.

It’s metamorphosis. It’s wholesale change. From the bottom up. From the inside out.

And, to be honest…it’s not always something that I want.Continue Reading..

31
Jan

epiphany 5a reflection: lose the morons

It is to be noted that the semantic parallel of “low-grade” with imbecile is far closer than might have been expected. (The Anchor Bible Commentary: Matthew by W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann. Page 55.)

That is, quite possibly, the funniest statement that I’ve ever read in a biblical commentary. Had I been enjoying a beverage whilst reading that statement, I would have soiled the book.

Albright and Mann have a quite different translation in their Anchor Bible Commentary than the NRSV of Matthew 5:13. The salt hasn’t “lost it’s saltiness,” but it’s “low-grade” salt. The Greek word here translated as “low-grade” is “moraino”.

Etymologically related to: moron. Imbecile.

Salt can’t “lose it’s saltiness.” There’s no “sell by” date on salt. It’s salt for goodness sakes.

But, salt can be diluted. Or it can be contaminated by other materials which make it taste bad.

And, if that’s the case, it’s time to throw the salt out. It’s useless. There’s no going back.

Fuggedaboutit.

Jesus in in the opening stanzas of the Sermon on the Mount here, and he’s talking about us. “You are the salt of the earth” he proclaims to the disciples, and to us. Great things are expected of us, and great things can we do in the name of God and God’s Kingdom.

But, there is another way to go. We can do great things…or we can be morons.

This is literally Jesus’ big speech where he turns to his followers and tells them/ us not to be an embarrassment.

I love Bishop Michael Curry’s push to create more “crazy Christians.” I love the holy fools who throughout Christian history have given up their material goods, their freedom, and their lives to live out the values of the Kingdom.

But, there is a line, and if you cross it, you go from “crazy Christian” to imbecile pretty quickly. It’s hard to define where that line is…but we all know it when we see it. We all know it when we stand squarely on the other side of the line, and looking back we see Jesus standing there shaking his head. We all know it when we turn on the TV and another yay-hoo with “Rev.” in front of their name is proclaiming why this tornado or that hurricane struck a particular area.

So, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

But, quit being a moron.