bLOGOS

WHAT IS bLOGOS?

The Ekklesia Project “bLogos” seeks to bring together relevant theological commentary from our contributing editors and from the wider electronic world.  It regularly reflects on the news of the day from an EP perspective, asking what the news we are offered might look like from an angle that is God-centered, church-centered, peace-centered and political.  In so doing, we hope that our commentary helps members of the church to think more critically and theologically, and to see daily events and ideas in new ways.

And we invite you who read to join the conversation by leaving a comment on our posts.

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Identity Politics

First Sunday in Lent

Deuteronomy 26:1-11
Luke 4:1-13

This time of year, especially every fourth year, we find ourselves in the US of A faced with representatives of the powers and principalities of this world. They offer to order the nation around things we most want – psychological safety, economic security, access to “someone like me” brokering power – in exchange for allegiance symbolized by a vote. Some even cite Scripture (or attempt to) to make their case, ostensibly as a proxy for shared identity and commitments with a desired bloc of voters.

It’s not so different a scenario from the story that confronts Christians this time of year, every year on the first Sunday in Lent. Jesus is faced with a representative of the powers and principalities of this world who offers authority in exchange for allegiance. The devil even cites Scripture to make his case – for what it’s worth, more accurately than most of the presidential candidates – as part of his test of Jesus’ freshly baptized identity. Read more

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It’s About Jesus


Transfiguration Sunday

Luke 9:28-36

This is a strange story; we don’t often know what to make of it. What does it mean? What does it do? Jesus on a mountain, a shining moment, a voice from on high? This is the final story we read in this season of Epiphany, the season of revelation, manifestation. In other words, this is the season when things of God should be revealed, uncovered, be brought into the light. This story is no different. So what does it reveal? Read more

God, Presidents, and the Running of the World

The Ekklesia Project does not endorse political candidates, nor does it take positions in partisan political controversies, but its friends and endorsers live in a world in which Karl Barth urged Christians to read both the Bible and the newspaper, interpreting the latter through the former. Debra Dean Murphy, an Ekklesia Project endorser and leader, takes Barth’s approach as the already tiresome political season enters a new phase.

An excerpt:

Would-be American presidents may always feel this pressure—either from within or without—to cloak themselves in religious garb, sometimes heavily, sometimes lightly; to see themselves as saviors of a sort, as those called to run “the greatest country in the world” and thus have a powerful hand in running the world. This seems laughable when it comes to the kind of servant leadership, the kind of counter politics that a crucified messiah asks of his followers. But it’s not funny. Especially when the religious rhetoric we’re hearing is so charged with murderous hate.

Read the full post on her blog.

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The Unwelcome Word

Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 1:4-10
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Luke 4:21-30

This Sunday’s Gospel gives us the conclusion to the gripping story we heard last week about the Jubilee Year. Last week, Jesus read from Isaiah about bringing good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind, and proclaiming the year of the Lord’s favor – the year of Jubilee. More than that, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” It has been fulfilled NOW. And NOW. And NOW.

We discover that the year of Jubilee, the year of the Lord’s favor, isn’t only the Jubilee as we have it from Jewish law, where debts are forgiven and an unjust society is reordered, ever forty-nine years. When Jesus proclaims the word has been fulfilled, the Jubilee becomes now, and every moment. The Jubilee is constant.

Last week’s Gospel ended on that joyful note – but this week’s Gospel presents those same words – “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” This week, we experience some of the effect of what it means to say that the Jubilee is now, and always. Read more

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Transformative Worship

Third Sunday after Epiphany
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Nehemiah 8:1-10
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Luke 4:14-21

Today’s scriptures tell the story of two worship gatherings. Nehemiah describes a reboot of worship in Jerusalem by recently returned refugees from Babylon. We don’t know if this account describes a typical worship experience, but let’s hope so. Read more

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Not Yet at the Wedding Banquet

Second Sunday after Epiphany
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 62:1-5
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
John 2:1-11

This is one of those blessed Sundays in which the Catholic and Revised Common lectionaries are almost exactly concordant, the only differences being the inclusion or absence of a few verses in the first two readings. How interesting, then, that today’s gospel reading is often mined to text-proof theological positions in direct contradiction to one another.

That details of the wedding at Cana passage – an episode that appears only in John’s gospel and designated by the author as the first of Jesus’s signs – should be interpreted variously by different ecclesial traditions comes as no surprise. Traditions shape not only what we do and believe, but how we see, read, speak, and hear. What troubles me is how easily differing interpretations can be turned into hammers to smash the heretical Other. Read more

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The Kingdom Unleashed on the World

Baptism of the Lord
First Sunday after Epiphany

Isaiah 43:1-7
Psalm 29
Acts 8:14-17
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Before there was an ekklesia, before there was a Messiah, before there were mangers or magi or shepherds or heavenly hosts, there was talk among the common folk in and around Jerusalem—furtive whispers and improbably hopeful snippets of conversation among a people long since accustomed to injustice and subjugation at the hands of series of imperial oppressors and collaborators from among their own leaders. The topic of conversation was not new in any absolute sense. Its roots were a thousand years old, and exchanges like it had emerged and reemerged over the years whenever things became grim and the people wondered whether the God of their ancestors had abandoned them altogether.

The conversation invariably revolved around hope, and the hope voiced was for deliverance, a liberation such as their ancestors had experienced under the leadership of Moses in the Exodus from Egypt. This time the liberation was expected to come through the leadership of a “new” Moses, a descendant of King David, under whose rule the people would be freed, their oppressors vanquished, and shalom — peace and prosperity — established, not simply among the people Israel, but throughout Creation; not simply for now, but for all time.

In the second century before the Common Era, when the Seleucids sought to destroy Judaism by completely assimilating it into Hellenistic culture, the authors of the book of Daniel and some of the apocryphal texts gave this hope a name. They called it the reign (or kingdom) of God, and they looked for its advent through God’s anointed one, the Messiah. Read more

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The Power of Fear

Epiphany Sunday

Isaiah 60: 1-6
Ephesians 3:1-12
Matthew 2:1-12

On Monday of this week, a grand jury in Ohio declared that the police officers who shot and killed 12-year old Tamir Rice while he played with a pellet gun in a Cleveland park and then left him unattended on the ground for four minutes before administering comfort or assistance would not be indicted on any charges related to his death. The officers said the boy looked like he was 20. They said they told him to stand down. He was a large black boy in a park and they were afraid. People do stupid and sometimes horrible things when they are afraid.

As a country we’re being told that we should be afraid of a lot of things lately: immigrants, Muslims, crazy men with guns, black men (with or without guns), ISIS, the jobs report, tap water. We’re told that there are forces afoot in this world, embodied in these and many other things, which threaten our way of life. We’re told that if we do not eliminate these threats, bad things will happen. We’re told to hold nothing back, however immoral or inhumane, to keep ourselves and our way of life safe: border controls, internment camps, religious tests, militarized policing, racially skewed drug laws, carpet bombing, suppression of unions, bottled water.

Fear maintains order. Collateral damage is to be expected. When those in power fear that they are losing hold on that power, ramping up the fear of the general populace is a surefire way to secure and maintain power.

Exhibit A: Herod the Great. Read more

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Holy Family Values

Luke 2:41-52
First Sunday after Christmas
Feast of the Holy Family

I once lost my younger son in a department store.

He was a toddler, chubby and unwieldy on his feet but, man, did he disappear in a flash. For the two or three minutes it took to find him (an eternity in such situations), my heart was in my throat. The dread was as unbearable as the relief was palpable when I finally found his impish, grinning self.

This weekend offers something of a holiday smorgasbord liturgically: the First Sunday after Christmas, the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, the Commemoration of St. Stephen, and the Feast of the Holy Family. There is a wide array of readings and alternate readings, too.

For churches using the text from St. Luke’s gospel, we’ll hear that the infant Jesus is now twelve years old and has gone missing in Jerusalem. Despite the decorous prose (“your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety”), we can imagine the unbearable dread and palpable relief when, after three days (not three minutes), his parents find him safe and sound.  Read more

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A Multitude of Ruptures

The post for the 4th Sunday in Advent is Jim McCoy’s post from 2012.

The word “preachy” has never been a complimentary term, even less so these days. The ministers rightly highlighted in the national news who have been doing their vital and admirable work are described as “compassionate, not preachy.” Those of us who not only have to preach but believe we should preach have been faced with how in God’s name do we preach the last two Sundays of Advent 2012, and how to do so in such a way in which compassion and preaching are not pitted against each other.

Read More…