Talking About God

Trinity Sunday

 

 

Genesis 1:1-24a

Psalm 8

2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Matthew 28:16-20

Trinity Sunday can be exciting and perplexing. For some pastors, it is an occasion to dust off some of their theological knowledge from seminary and maybe stretch laypeople’s intellectual muscles. For others, it is a nerve-wracking time. Knowing all the inadequacies of popular Trinitarian analogies, they are full of concern about having something to say about the Trinity (and having something relevant to say). While the church certainly needs to learn and remember the Trinitarian affirmations found, for instance, in the Athanasian Creed, there is also the need to speak to the moment. This is the tension as we arrive at Trinity Sunday. Read more

Air Hunger

Pentecost Sunday

Acts 2:1-21

Psalm 104:24-34

1 Corinthians 12:3-13

John 20:19-23

 

Then the LORD God formed man from the dust

of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the

breath of life; and the man became a living being.

                                       Genesis 2:7

 

When he had said this, he breathed on them and

said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

                                     John 20:22

 

You who pour mercy into hell, sole authority in the

highest and lowest worlds, let your anger disperse

the mist in this aimless place, where even my sins

fall short of the mark… Arouse my heart again with

the limitless breath you breathe into me, arouse the

secret from obscurity.

                                    Leonard Cohen,  The Book of Mercy

 

Pentecost, with its attention to the life-giving breath of God, seems especially poignant this year, with the world immersed in a pandemic caused by a virus that takes away breath and, tragically often, life.  In spite of assurances that the worst may be over, many of us continue to live day-to-day with simmering anxiety that threatens periodically to boil over into full-blown dread, that we or someone we love will become sick and perhaps even die. One of the most fearsome things about the virus is the way it attacks the respiratory system, making it difficult for the lungs to oxygenate blood. Inadequate blood oxygen causes faster and deeper breathing, which causes changes in blood chemistry that lead, among other things, to panic. The name for this response and the terror it causes is “air hunger,” and anyone who has had a serious asthma attack has experienced at least a measure of it. It is a dreadful thing to watch, much less experience.

It’s small wonder, then, that we are so anxious, for breath is essential to life. This is as much a theological claim as a physiological one; Creation is animated by the breath of God, and the breath that sustains the life of every creature has God as its first cause. Just so, the lectionary for this Pentecost reminds us that God’s ultimate intention, both for us and for the rest of God’s beloved Creation, is not sickness and death but healing and wholeness, given freely in the limitlessly merciful and limitlessly powerful breath of God. Read more

Distance Learning

Seventh Sunday of Easter

Acts 1:6-14

1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

I work in a school, and on March 12 we dismissed students a day early for our Spring Break because the Governor had ordered all schools to close due to COVID-19. Of course, we had no idea that school wouldn’t be back in session for the remainder of the academic year. 

Since then, like many educators, students, and supportive families across the world, we’ve attempted to cope with this new reality. From new distance learning platforms and video conferencing tools to drive-by graduation parties and online award ceremonies, we have been struggling to be human without the real presence of humanity.  Read more

Communities in Transition

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Psalms 31:1-5, 15-16

Acts 7:55-60

1 Peter 2:2-10
The world changed. There’s no going back to “normal” — only a march toward some kind of new normal that hasn’t fully revealed itself.  Society is restructuring to figure out how to meet people’s basic needs, but a lot of people suffer and die in the process. Some people cover their ears, grab weapons and mob the truth tellers like Stephen.  With all of the post-resurrection upheaval, life must have been so disorienting, overwhelming and exhausting for the early church.

Acts describes a community in transition that’s trying to figure out how to live in light of the ongoing revelation of God.  Spoiler alert – they weren’t the first and they aren’t the last to embark on this journey. In the epistle lesson, Peter compares that community to spiritual infants.  Figuring out how to order our lives seems to be the eternal Judeo-Christian project. Read more

More links

We continue to gather links to helpful articles, poems, videos, podcasts and anything else you suggest for things that have helped encourage and sustain you as we continue through the struggles that result from this pandemic. Please share your links and suggestions here: Suggestion Form.

The Corrymeela community was one of the previously suggested links. Here is one of the recent prayers they shared: 

God of tumult, God of peace: more will change in the weeks and months to come. Further landscapes of our normal will be shaken to the ground. Gradual movements will accelerate, market trends will shift, and they will sweep away much of what we know. And so we pray for what we need: the reassurance of your strength in the midst of our community; and the life that returns in fuller resurrection after what we love is laid to rest.

Amen.

Other links:

Reading Barth Together, webinar series with Hauerwas and Willimon (begins Tuesday May 5) 

In Your Light We See Light (recording of a Zoom concert and conversation with Sandra McCracken and Dr. Ellen Davis)

Finnegas by Paul Kingsnorth (Emergence Magazine)

Devotions from Ragan Sutterfield

Short Prayers in a Time of Virus by Victoria Emily Jones (Art and Theology)

Uncommontary by Marty Duren. Podcast including discussions on technology relevant to our 2021 Gathering, with one of our plenary speakers, Dr. John Dyer. 

A Prayer for Working from Home by Will Sorrell (Christianity Today)

Essential Work by Todd Edmondson (EP blogos)

The New Normal by Kyle Matthews (worship video, sermon begins at 38:23)

Essential Work

Fourth Sunday of Easter

 

 

Psalm 23

John 10:1-11

Every year, employment agencies and worker advocacy groups publish lists of the most dangerous jobs in America. Usually, there is little variation among these lists. At the top are occupations in which people are exposed to some of the harsher, untamed elements of the natural world, like commercial fishermen and loggers, or those who labor in precarious worksites, like roofers and steel-beam construction workers. Using our imaginations, we could probably come up with some other vocations that carry with them the likelihood or inevitability of danger—firefighters, police officers, members of the military. Few people would argue that these are dangerous jobs.

Lately, though, as the COVID-19 crisis has caused us to think about a lot of things differently, I can’t help but be struck by just how dangerous some other jobs have become, jobs that we normally wouldn’t think of as particularly hazardous but which have come to carry an inescapable element of very real danger. Health-care workers, from doctors and nurses to respiratory therapists, pharmacists, chaplains, and various other hospital support staff, have been on the front-lines of this situation. Each day, so many of these brave workers don their masks and gloves and take their health into their own hands, caring for those who are suffering greatly.

But beyond these heroes in the medical profession, we can look to others whose work we so often have taken for granted—grocery store workers dedicated to providing people with the food they need, deliverymen and women who make it possible for people to stay at home and still receive essential items, janitors and custodial staffs committed to keeping environments clean and safe for others. We don’t often think of these jobs as dangerous, but in these times, when we need them most, they certainly can be. We don’t often think of these people as heroic, but our current situation has driven home the point that so often, it’s those we’re most prone to overlook who are the truly essential members of our communities. Read more

Suggested links

If you have suggestions for articles, poems or songs that have been important to you during this time of pandemic, you can enter them here: Google form.  While we do try to be aware of any misinformation that is being shared, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the form if you feel any of our links might be inappropriate. We have not read or viewed everything suggested. 

Here are some of the links suggested by EP Endorsers and friends, in no particular order. 

Written: Entering the Joy of the Resurrection in a Time of Pandemic, In the days of the coronavirus, Prayers for Community in a Time of Pandemic, Thinking about Good Friday during a pandemic, How to handle epidemics as a Christian, The Reality of Covid-19 is Hitting Teens Especially Hard, Why live streaming is not the full answer for churches during COVID-19, Politics of a Plague, Cellphone data shows coronavirus kept churchgoers at home in every state on Easter, In Everything (including coronavirus) Turn Towards JesusChurches Should Think Twice Before Webcasting Their Worship Services, Improvising in a PandemicLeaving EarlyThe coronavirus pandemic feels like an unending Holy Saturday, Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed ToGeorge Steiner on Holy SaturdayThe Shift Americans Must Make to Fight the CoronavirusAllowing Worship to Continue to be a Sacred Space in the Zoom WorldSacraments, Technology, and Streaming Worship in a PandemicBauerschmidt, Homily Worship in a Violent WorldBeing Present to God and Each Other During Zoom Group GatheringsWe Are All Monks Now

Podcasts: Analog Church with Jay Kim, On Being, A Poem in Gratitude for Health Care Workers, On Being, Wendell Berry and Ellen Davis.

Videos : The House We Sheltered In, Journey Into SilenceThe Pittsburgh BlessingChristian Ethics Amid Covid-19

Other: Pray as you Go App

Two Versions of the Resurrection

Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:14a, 36-41

1 Peter 1:17-23

Luke 24:13-35

One way to tell a story about the resurrection is the one we find in Luke’s gospel. The disciples on that road to Emmaus seem to have been in Jerusalem through the whole week-long events that took place: the parade on Sunday, the crucifixion on Friday, the attempt to anoint Jesus’ body with spices on Sunday.

When the spice-bearing women return with a report of angels proclaiming Jesus was risen, these two Emmaus disciples appear not to know what to do with this information. They must be thinking to themselves that the women’s account can’t possibly be factually true. Some other disciples go test the theory, but apparently see no angels, but no body either. Read more

Poems, articles, videos.

One of the ways we will be staying connected until we can gather again is to share things that resonate with us during this time of uncertainty. We’ve begun sharing articles, stories and poems on the web page and through Facebook and Twitter. We continue to share our weekly lectionary reflections. We’d also like to ask for you to suggest links that you’ve seen that were helpful.

If you go to this link: Google drive form you will see a place to enter up to 5 links at a time. Did you see a worship service or sermon that you think others at EP will find encouraging? Please take a second to enter it on the page. If you have more than 5, just submit and you can add more. We’ll be sharing those links on the web page with the Signs of the Times tag, as well as through Facebook and Twitter, and once or twice a month through the newsletter.

If you want to receive an email when new items have been added to the Ekklesia Project page, you can subscribe through this link: Ekklesia Feedburner Email.
If you want to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you can do that here: EP Facebook, EP Twitter. As always, if you have questions or comments, you can email us at info@ekklesiaproject.org.

We also have a youtube channel where you can see videos that we’ve liked and categorized. Youtube.

Here’s one recent video we liked: