Saint_Paul_the_Hermit_-_Walters_37278

The Way the World Works?

First Sunday after Pentecost
Trinity Sunday

Romans 8:12-17

John 3:1-17

Two of our scripture passages for today – the story of Nicodemus from John 3 and Paul’s admonition to the church in Rome from Romans 8 – wrestle with the nature of spirit and flesh.  Throughout the history of the Christian tradition, interpretation (or mis-interpretation) of passages like these has led many Christians into the sort of gnostic dualism that condemns the flesh and elevates the spirit. In recent years, a subtle sort of Christian Gnosticism – that literary critic Harold Bloom has called “the American Religion” – has tempted us to be careless in our stewardship of our bodies and the creation at large (the “God is going to destroy it anyway” mentality).  In the late 1990s, for instance, one research study found that evangelical Christians tended to be more obese than other sectors of the US population, and more interestingly, that this tendency was even stronger among those Christians who claimed to read the Bible literally.

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Assembling in the Spirit

Pentecost
Acts 2:1-21

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.” Acts 2:1

I was going to title this post “The Summer of Our Discontent.”

For various denominational bodies, late spring and early summer are seasons for gathering “all together in one place.” United Methodists conference together, Episcopalians and Baptists convene, and Presbyterians generally assemble (or assemble generally). Long-time participants in these gatherings and others like them might say, with a cynical wink, that, except for the “all together” part (and the being “in one place” part), these meetings are a real blast—productive, enjoyable, edifying . . . . . . Not.

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rutilio grande

Show Us the Way

Acts 10:44-48
1 John 4:7-10 OR 1 John 5:1-6
John 15:9-17

(The following lectionary reflection was published in bLOGOS three years ago, commenting on the same gospel text. Except for a few minor alterations, it appears as it did then. The photo is of Rutilo Grande.)

On March 12, 1977, Fr. Rutilio Grande, SJ, and two companions were assassinated as they drove toward evening mass through the fields near El Paisnal, El Salvador. Fr. Grande knew where he was going. Read more

VA_504

Believe It or Not

Acts 8:26-40

1 John 4:7-21

John 15:1-8

Monday evening as I was sitting down to read the lectionary for this Fifth Sunday in Easter, NPR carried a story that has haunted me since.  It was the testimony of a Methodist pastor, Teresa MacBain who found that she could no longer believe in God.  Her reasons were classic—the problem of evil, etc.  For a time she continued in her role as a minister—albeit a faithless one.  The cognitive dissonance eventually led her to “come out” as an atheist at convention of non-believers.  The video of her coming out went viral on the internet and soon enough her congregation found out, in the way of many an internet age breakup, through social media.   Read more

Slow and Abundant Faithfulness

In the mid-2000s, I served two small-membership United Methodist churches in small towns in West Virginia.  One of those churches served as a pilot congregation for the CFI process.   About 15 people in a church of 45 active members committed to a two-year engagement with the CFI material.  Of the five pilot congregations, ours was probably the least educated, and we were Read more